Death to Flower


My neighborhood has a skunk problem.

Let me rephrase that.

My neighborhood, which is well within city limits, where I can look into at least four other houses’ windows from my own because they are so close, where emergency sirens and roaring trucks are far more common than bunnies and birdies, has been taken hostage by skunks.

The week we bought the house, back in the good old days BK (before kids) when I still took my poor long suffering dog Brutus for real walks several times a day instead of just shoving him out the door and glaring at him to hurry up and pee, we ran across a skunk wandering down the sidewalk at 7 am. I managed to drag Brutus, howling and whining, two blocks home before the poor, dazed skunk even realized what was going on. I breathlessly called animal control to report a TOTALLY CRAZY skunk sighting but apparently they don’t work at 7 am so I got the front desk of the police station. I described in great detail exactly where I saw the skunk, the intersection he was waddling towards and (sigh)what he looked like, as thoroughly and completely as I would have described a robbery suspect.

I bet those cops laughed about me for DAYS.

The skunks are everywhere. They’re digging in my trash cans making a mess. They’re standing in my driveway in the middle of the afternoon. They’re wandering around my yard in the evenings making Brutus go apeshit. They’re squashed flat in the middle of the road, making me gag and my eyes water.

I am sick and tired of these motherbleeping skunks in my motherbleeping town.

Tuesday afternoon the baby, the groceries and I were trapped in the car for 10 minutes while a clearly dazed and unwell skunk wandered through the garden, so when Brutus started pacing and whining around 8 o’clock I figured the beast was back and terrorizing our street. I slammed the door and yelled at the dog to sit down muttering about moving back to the country, where my landlord took care of lost skunks the old fashioned way – with a .22 and a shovel. (True story.)

When the dog woke me up with MORE whining at 4 am I spent 20 minutes debating whether it was worse to ignore him and clean up dog poop in the morning or let him out and deal with a dog-skunk death match and the smelly horrible after effects before dawn.

You can see how that might be a hard decision.

Eventually I felt enough dog-mommy guilt that I decided to let him out – after turning on every exterior light and peering out the back door suspiciously looking for skunky signs like…I don’t know. Wilted flowers. Droppings. A squirrel holding it’s nose. When poor Brutus was eventually released to the yard he barely made it off the porch before he started peeing. And peeing. And peeing. I started counting mississippis when he was STILL peeing after what felt like 10 minutes and I made it to 45 before he stopped to poop. And then he peed some more.

I am a terrible dog owner. I blame the skunks.

But what can we do? It’s not like I’m going to set traps – I couldn’t bring myself to use any kind that killed the skunk (especially since there are a dozen or so outdoor cats in my neighborhood) and an angry, trapped LIVE skunk sounds even worse than skunk eating my trash. Animal control doesn’t seem to care. They’ve been staging this attack since early spring and it just gets worse every year. Advice appreciated.

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16 Responses to “Death to Flower”

  1. Other Erin says:

    The interwebs say you should install motion sensored lights and or sprinklers. Or leave ammonia soaked rags around your yard. But with the pets and the kids, that might not be the best idea.

    • bebehblog says:

      We have motion detector lights. But since it was 2 pm when the skunk was in my driveway I think perhaps the light doesn’t bother him so much.

  2. bellegourmande says:

    I have no advice but just wanted to comment the following: Is there some sort of New England skunk infestation this year? Because at my husband’s family’s lake house in NH, there is a family of skunks that set up house?/shop? this summer. Never seen a skunk there before, but for some reason this summer we were “overrun” with skunks. Mama skunk, baby skunks, possible dad skunk too. Luckily no one got skunked, given all the kids and the dog we had running around, but I am headed there on Monday and am hoping the luck holds.

    In other news, in my current hometown of Seattle, I saw a raccoon in the middle of the day in a crowded city park. I wonder what Seattle does about vermin? I know that when sea lions were eating many of the salmon that swim through the canal that goes out to Puget Sound, the city decided that, instead of getting rid of the sea lions, they would ship them down to California. Apparently it only took a few days for the sea lions to find their way right back to the Sound.

    • bebehblog says:

      I think skunks might be like deer – besides getting hit by cars they don’t have any predators in the suburbs so the populations get out of control. It might be a whole New England thing since I know people all over Connecticut and Mass who have skunk problems.

  3. Erin says:

    I got nothin’. But good luck! May be just keep alot of tomato juice handy???

  4. Amy says:

    No advice, sorry. But, my husband has a funny story where he was at a friend’s house and their dog came inside and rubbed all over the house before they realized he had been sprayed. They made a very fun trip to Walmart for tomato juice/sauce and made a good show of pretending they couldn’t smell what everyone else could. After that episode he had to get a new wallet even, as the smell would NOT leave.

  5. debbi says:

    I moved here from a more rural area and one of the big perks I was looking forward to was no more wild animals wander through my yard! The first week in my new apt, husband and I went outside in the afternoon to go do something – what did we find? A mangy and unwell skunk circling the gutter and flopping around. We called the cops, animals control came out and, uh, ‘disposed’ of it.

  6. Lisa says:

    Skunks are omnivores- meaning they’ll eat pretty much anything- including trash and dog food. Could you bungy-cord lids to your trash cans? Do you have neighbors who leave dog food outside who might be convinced to stop feeding skunks (and probably feral cats)? Those are the only suggestions I can think of off-hand, besides consulting Professor Google.

  7. Audrey says:

    Skunks are a way of life in our neighborhood. They were here when we bought the house and they continue to be here. It isn’t a normal night if we don’t smell skunk. And I’m always sad when I see one squashed on the road. We do have to keep our lids clamped on the trashcans if we have trash in them or they will get into them. Otherwise they are fairly harmless and don’t bother us at all. But while they have definitely set up camp in our neighborhood we never ever see them in the daylight. That’s pretty unusual for skunks and I would be showing up in person on a daily basis at animal control until something is done..because that sounds like a sick animal.

    • bebehblog says:

      I don’t think ANY of the skunks in our neighborhood are well. Although it could just be one poor sick skunk doing the terrorizing on my street and lots and lots of other, perfectly healthy skunks getting hit by cars all over the rest of the town.

  8. barbra says:

    Can’t help you for how to keep them out of your yard. they can be nasty disease carrying creatures though, so if you are seeing them in the daytime, definitely keep up the complaints to animal control. also, if the dog gets sprayed, good luck. tomato juice, dawn, fancy enzyme cleaner, nothing helped our shephard when he got sprayed years ago. it finally mostly went away after a week of constant bathing. and then we smelled it on him every time he got wet for the next three months.

    • Leah says:

      Agree with the call again if the skunk is acting weird. Call Animal Control and just say, “Rabies. Rabies! Rabiesrabiesrabies!” until they come out and trap it.

    • Meagan says:

      OMG. I had that same exact problem with my german shepherd mix several years ago. She got sprayed IN THE FACE by a nasty ol’ skunk while we were eating supper (inside the house, windows open, etc.) in August. When she walked inside, the smell got into EVERYTHING, & we ended up having to throw out perfectly good, half-eaten food before we were finished eating. The poor dog was thrown into our bathtub while my mom grabbed a few cans of tomato soup (we didn’t have juice), vinegar, & something else. Didn’t work. We called our Animal Control friend, who didn’t help except to (literally) roar with laughter when we explained what happened. (To this day, it’s one of his favorite stories to tell.) Mom then called the emergency vet line & bought an entire bottle of Skunk Off! that also didn’t help much–even after a WEEK of bathing her 2-3x a day!

      The poor thing cried the entire time she was in the tub. LOL.

      Oh yeah… The next day, we discovered the stank made it into our backpacks, which held our homework… OMG. We used bottles of the pink Lysol spray & even washed them to mask the smell… Our backpacks reeked like skunk for MONTHS. >.<

      All I can say is this: I feel your pain. Oh, & keep the windows closed. ;)

  9. Katherine says:

    I hate skunks. Plain and simple. We live in the country and our dog thinks it’s fun to mess with them. He’s been sprayed 6 times now, 1/2 being direct hits. Gross!

    Also, I’m not sure wilty flowers is a sure-sign of a skunk. Hahaha. :)

  10. Jamie says:

    Oh my gosh. I am so sorry. I HATE that smell and I’m pretty sure I’d freak if I saw a skunk in real life, which I have not. Poor Brutus. What a good dog to hold it for sooo long. My mom’s dogs would not have (I don’t own pets). Hopefully someone comes up with a solution for the skunk problem in your town reeeeally soon!

  11. brigidkeely says:

    Are they nesting under/around your house? A heavy bass line (like, music) irritates them and will drive them away.

    I bet people are leaving out food “for the stray cats!!!!” (and skunks and rats) and that needs to stop.

    You might find this interesting:

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