It is common to see increased skunk activity during the fall, as these animals try to gain the extra weight needed to survive the winter. The Evanston Police Department’s Animal Control Bureau and the Health and Human Services Department would like to remind residents of some of the basic things they can do to mitigate a current or future problem with a skunk on their property.

Skunks will burrow under sheds, homes, businesses, porches, decks, crawlspaces and woodpiles to create a home. They will enter foundation openings to get to these spots or to create skunk holes. They have large feet with well-developed claws, which make them very good diggers.

One way in which skunks can be abated from a property is by exclusion. Exclusion, in this case, is the elimination of all possible sites of habitation where they might make their dens. Residents should move the den sites under and around structures such as garages and homes. Seal all possible entrances along the foundation, but leave the main burrow entrance open.

A resident who suspects that a skunk inhabits a certain area should sprinkle a thin layer of flour two feet in circumference on the ground in front of a suspected opening to a skunk den. Flour tracks seen after dark will indicate the skunk has left to feed. If tracks are not present, the area should be re-examined in about an hour. After the den is empty, any entrances should be covered immediately – with wire mesh, sheet metal or concrete. One of the entrances should be re-opened the next day for one hour after dark to allow any remaining skunks to exit before permanently sealing the entrance. This is particularly important in May and June, when baby skunks may still be in the den.

Fencing should be buried one foot to one-and-a half feet in areas where skunks could gain access by digging. Additionally, outside garbage cans should be tightly sealed and no pet food should be left outdoors, as it can be a food source for skunks.

The Evanston Police Department monitors complaints about wildlife. If a particular neighborhood experiences an inordinate number of calls, the Animal Control Bureau staff will share this information with the Health and Human Services Department and other appropriate City staff. Identified areas can then be canvassed with informational flyers sharing tips about how to control a wildlife problem. Animal Control staff can also focus their efforts in the area.

Residents may also contact the Animal Control Bureau for other methods to safely remove wildlife from residential or business properties.