Powers Unfiltered

An entrepreneur’s journey into grid computing and partnering with Microsoft, by John Powers

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WAY Off Topic: Skunk Party

December 22nd, 2010 · No Comments

I like living in Lafayette, but occasionally its suburban-to-semi-rural nature reminds us that various other species think we’re on their property.  Deer eat most anything we plant, gophers re-engineer the yard from time to time, turkeys by the dozen wander by pooping on everything in sight, woodpeckers eat away at the exterior of the house, and don’t get me started on the ants.  No big deal.

But when a skunk burrowed under our house last week and exploded at 3:14 AM, that was a bit much.

Skunks are well known for their odor, but in a confined space (say, in the crawlspace directly under our bedroom), it can be truly overpowering.  One look outside showed just where the varmint had tunneled in.  It was time to call in the professionals.

Critter Control is only local firm I could find willing to trap and remove skunks — so they got the job.  (This is not a review of Critter Control — I’ll do that on Yelp when this adventure is over — but so far no complaints.)

They began with a more complete survey of the property, which showed:

  • Burrowing under the fence on the West side of our back yard;
  • Burrowing under the North side of our house (the burrow I found);
  • Burrowing under the deck on the East side of our house; and
  • Burrowing under the gate on the East side of our back yard.

So essentially, there’s an East-West Skunk Superhighway through our back yard.

The Critter Control guy was not surprised to find two entrances under the house — “they like to have a second way out in case of intruders” — and he set traps by the deck where the most recent digging had been.

After a couple of days with no activity, one of the traps was knocked over (probably raccoons).  When Critter Control came to reset it, there was new digging at the North entrance, so he put one of the traps there too.

The next day we caught a skunk by the deck; Critter Control removed it promptly and reset the traps.

The next day we caught a skunk by the North burrow under the house, and a neighborhood cat by the deck (the traps are quite humane, and the cat was fine).

After another quiet day or two, we caught another skunk by the North burrow.  So I asked the Critter Control guy if there was any end in sight to this project.

His answer was typical of Highly Trained Professionals everywhere — it depends.

Apparently, it’s skunk mating season (yes, this is the kind of activity where you start to learn way more than you want to know about a new subject…).  If we have a girl skunk who likes our house, the boy skunks can pick out her scent (don’t ask me how, given the ambient level of boy-and-girl-skunk spray) and will keep visiting until we get rid of her.

So along the Skunk Superhighway, a Skunk Party Palace under our house is the main roadside attraction.

It’s been three days since the last capture, so maybe that was the girl.  We can hope.

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