Friday, March 1, 2013

Skunked

Let’s start this post with a brief recap: I have had suspicions that a skunk was living under our shed for about four years. I chose to deal with this problem with denial. But then I saw the skunk, and, forced to confront the situation, spent my time fretting, Googling, and calling exterminators. My regular exterminator wanted $495 to get rid of the skunk for a guaranteed six months. A competitor wanted $200 to get rid of this skunk, but $200 “and up” - depending upon the extent of the work and materials needed - to ensure that another skunk couldn’t come set up housekeeping under the shed. It was the “and up” part that concerned me there. Especially because our shed is basically built on top of a sand pit where a hot tub was kept once upon a time, so it’s really easy for skunks to burrow under it. Yes, we know NOW that we shouldn’t have put it over the sand pit, but where were you seven years ago, hmmm?

So instead of paying someone, we chose to toss some mothballs under there and cross our fingers. And it seemed to work! We stopped smelling skunk! Until last week! We just barely had time to start denying it when it snowed, and I found this in the driveway:

Skunk tracks photo skunk3-02252013018_zpsc592d5ec.jpg
If you Google images of skunk tracks, you see… basically this.

And THIS: Tons of skunk tracks photo skunk2-02252013019_zps093ed524.jpg
How many ARE there?

At this point, I became convinced that we had not just one skunk, but an entire extended family of skunks, that probably grew fat on the tulip bulbs that I planted last fall. I mention that awkwardly here only because I already missed my chance of using the eaten tulip bulbs to foreshadow the skunk discovery, but I still wanted to complain about it because I’ve wanted to plant bulbs for years and this was the first year I ever remembered before the ground froze, and even still I ended up doing it at the last possible second on the last possible fall Saturday during the last possible moments of daylight. I suppose I have no PROOF that that it was the skunk and not a squirrel or cat or something else that ate my bulbs, but I choose to blame the skunk.

I followed the tracks back to the shed and I think I may have determined the point of entry:

The front door photo skunk1-02252013022_zpsb0e48801.jpg

That’s where I put all the flour down last summer but never saw any tracks. There are actually plenty of ways to get under the shed though, because of the whole “built on a sand pit” thing. So maybe this entrance is the winter entrance.

AT ANY RATE. I started calling exterminators again. The prices were all over the place. Lots of places don’t do skunks, but of the places that do, I was quoted:

$155 for the first trap, $75 for every additional trap
$495 no matter how many skunks there are, guaranteed for six months (my regular guy)
$325 for eradication with a one year guarantee; $50-$100 additional for exclusion with a lifetime guarantee
$150 per trap; $150 “and up” additional for exclusion
$125 just to come out and inspect, price quote after inspection

Now that last one is for a humane removal company. When I expressed surprise at the charge just to inspect, he said “You’ll pretty much find that across the board.” Clearly, I did not. Maybe other humane removal companies would have charged for an inspection as well. There’s not much to inspect, really, when you’re just setting a trap.

To make a long story short (too late!) we hired the $155 guy. And I’m also going to find out what he charges for yearly ant spraying, because it turns out my regular guy has outrageous skunk removal prices, even if he does have a flat fee no matter the number of skunks. I now think (hope) there’s only one, because the guy said those tracks could be from one skunk going back and forth on the same path, and also it’s too early for kits as it’s not quite mating season yet. In a perfect world I’d lead the skunk peacefully to a nice warm den in a cozy forest by a meadow, but that is not in the cards for the skunk under our shed, I’m sad to say.

So the trap is set. The traps only go for $50 or so on Amazon, but let’s be honest, we’re not paying for the setting of the trap, we’re paying for the REMOVAL of the trap. THAT is the part I wanted to avoid. Last summer, the man at animal control told me that it is against the law to release a trapped skunk, that we’d have to kill it, and I remain flummoxed at the idea that anyone would TRY to release a trapped skunk. Do you load the trap into your car and drive it out to the woods? How? I know an animal in a trap can’t bite or scratch you because it can’t reach you, but I’m not worried about skunk BITES.

In other totally unrelated news, I am typing this out in our former bedroom, now our office, and it is absolutely delightful to have a room dedicated to office work. We are plugging away at getting the house set up and getting used to the two-floor living, but it’s pretty awesome. Our space literally doubled. We have a playroom now. A playroom! Right now, there are virtually no toys in the living room at all. And we got to move the changing table/dresser out of the kitchen and put it in there and now our kitchen is huge.

4 comments:

Swistle said...

Oh, the bulbs! Yes, COMPLAIN AWAY. It's icing on the skunk cake. (Gross.)

Anne said...

Oh man, I hope there is only the one. You'll update us, right? Are you going to take down/move the shed?

Jessica said...

Ugh. I'm sorry you now know so much about skunk removal. And will soon know even more!

Erica said...

Whoa I would not want to kill or release a skunk.