Laetitia 10 weeks old
I do not recommend using traps to catch skunks of any age, but especially not orphans. They can get hurt when the door comes down on them, or get hit by the spring when it trips. I have taken in skunks with broken tails that this happened to. It could also break a leg or neck if caught wrong, or do other bodily harm. They can also injure themselves trying to escape. Live traps are considered humane but the truth is they can be deadly when not immediately attended to. A skunk can perish in a trap within hours of being caught from stress, dehydration and heat stroke. Please consider more humane alternatives to solve your skunk problems. Find resolutions for nuisance situations at the Humane Society in my links section. Keep in mind that during summer months the majority of nuisance animals are mothers with a litter to tend to! Please have some compassion when deciding how to handle the situation.
It is not necessary to use live traps to catch orphans. Catching young skunks in a pet carrier or with a net is easier than one might think, and does no harm to the orphans. When done calmly and with caution you can do this without getting sprayed. When you use live traps it is very traumatizing to the animal. Especially if the trap is not closely monitored and the animal is left for longer than 30 minutes. An adult skunk does not fare well in a live trap. I have rarely seen that situation turn out good. It is very stressful to them. The most commonly caught are mothers because they have denned up under the house or shed and owners want them gone. A mother with a litter will fret and worry herself, clawing and digging desperately trying to get out to return to her babies. She can do herself harm and is prone to dehydration and heat stroke. I have seen and heard of dead mothers in traps who were left for even a few hours in the heat of the day. People think live traps are humane and they are doing good by trapping and relocating, but if not promptly and properly attended to, that live trap can quickly become a death trap! That is not humane, it is cruel. And removing a mother leaves her babies to die. If there is a skunk denning under your house or shed during the summertime it is safe to assume that it is a mother with babies.
Studies have shown that less than 20% of relocated wildlife survive after being removed from their home. They need to be released into their own established territory, within two miles or less of where they were trapped.
It is absolutely inhumane to set live traps over the weekend if you intend for animal control to come remove the animal. Animal Control hands out traps on Fridays, but they will not be back to work to pick up the trapped animals until Monday. This is inhumane cruelty from city services that we expect to provide the most humane treatment of all. Also be aware that most animal control will kill trapped wildlife that it picks up, and not necessarily humanely. Skunks are typically drowned inside the cage to prevent spraying. Or shot to death in a field. There are few happy endings for skunks who are trapped.
Even if the animal is relocated, its chances of survival are slim. The ideal thought of relocating mom and babies is fantasy. She won't stand a chance of finding a new den in another animals territory while keeping her babies safely with her. They will all be in jeopardy. Baby season lasts only a few, fast summer months. If you can take certain measures to minimize problem issues, be a little bit patient, then Mom will lead her kits away to a better location herself where they will spend the winter. That would be the time for you to make repairs on your house foundation to seal off holes where the skunks den in the spring. You need to also figure out what attracted the skunk in the first place, such as easy meals from your pet food bowl, or bugs attracted to porch lights, and take measures to correct that. If you can learn to tolerate the mama skunk and her kits for a short while you may even find that you enjoy watching them wander in the yard. Use it as a learning experience for the kids and set the example of how wildlife should be treated and respected.
RELEASING SKUNKS FROM TRAPS
If you would like to release a skunk who has been trapped but are afraid of getting sprayed, take heart, for this is easier than one might think. As with all skunk situations you merely need to approach with calm caution. If the trap is not already covered with some other protective cover you may want to do that. You can take a large trash bag or old towel and walk up to the cage holding it up in front of you as a shield. If the skunk becomes alert and upset simply stop and wait for her to calm down. Move with slow, calm steps and gently drape the cover over the cage. The more calm you are the less likely the skunk is to get upset. In most cases skunks do not spray instantly, they give warnings. Do not use quick, jerky, exaggerated gestures in an effort to do it quickly thinking fast is best. Fast is not best. Calm, slow movements are best. Do not cover the door, this will only make it harder to open. Once the cage is covered you can squat beside it to open the door. Approach from an angle that the skunk cannot see you if possible, talk softly and reassuringly to the skunk. There are many different types of live traps on the market, but most are designed to open easily. Look at the door to determine how it is held closed. Most cages are simply a metal ring that slides up on each side of the door. Maybe a latch that needs to be released, or a bent lever turned aside. Simply open the door and the skunk will walk out and keep going. It is not going to stop and bother to spray you so do not jump up to run out of the way. That will only startle her. You can stay there and watch it leave happily. Now trash the trap. You have just saved the life of a skunk, thank you!