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Live skunk trapping is one of the most effective methods of skunk control, and contrary to some fears, it is possible to trap a skunk without getting sprayed. Below, Havahart® offers step-by-step instructions to help you safely remove a skunk with a live trap and avoid being sprayed in the process.
The best live traps for skunks are medium to large (25-35 inches long). Most traditional/professional style traps require that you manually lift and hold the door open to release the skunk - this positions the user close to the door as the skunk exits. Unless you are a professional, Havahart® recommends using an Easy Set® Trap. This type of trap has a lever at the back of the trap to open the door - a patented mechanism that ensures you are fully clear of the door and the skunk.
Both 1 or 2-door models traps skunks well with minor differences:
Place your trap in an area where you've seen the most skunk damage, or where the skunk frequents. Skunks may take shelter in various places such as:
If you are able to identify your skunk's den, place your trap 5-10 feet from the entrance. Position your trap on an even, level surface to ensure stability.
In order to bait your skunk trap for a successful catch, you must not only select a bait that attracts skunks, but also carefully position the bait inside the trap.
Selection: Oily meats, dry cat food, or bread coated with peanut butter are best for skunks.
Positioning: The bait must be positioned in a way that both lures the skunk all the way inside the trap and encourages it to step on the trigger plate (see diagrams on the right).
For more expert baiting tips, read How To: Skunk Baits »
Skunks are nocturnal, so you should set your trap at dusk or in the evening. If the cage is empty the next morning, close it so that you do not catch any unwanted diurnal critters, and then set it again in the evening.
Set the door(s) open by following your trap's unique setting instructions. If you are using an Easy Set® trap, simply pull back the lever.
It's important to check your trap often to ensure that a captured animal does not remain in the trap for longer than necessary. A trapped skunk may become frightened or anxious if left in the cage, and a lack of food and water can be detrimental to its health.
Once you've captured a skunk, you'll want to make sure you do not startle the skunk and cause it to spray. Here's what to do if you've caught a skunk:
Carry a blanket in front of your body, covering your shoulders to feet.
Approach the trap slowly and steadily, shuffling your feet. Speak softly or hum so that the skunk is aware of your presence and is not surprised by any accidental sounds or movements.
Gently drape the sheet over top of the trap. Skunks do not typically spray things they cannot see.
Handle the trap gently, and move with it slowly. If local laws permit, relocate the skunk at least 10 miles away. Placing an empty garbage bag in your car for the trap/skunk to rest on can prevent an unwanted mess to your car's interior.
TIP: Remember, skunks spray only when they are startled or as their final defense against a threatening person or animal. Before spraying, a skunk will stomp its two front feet, raise its tail, and turn it's rear towards you. Keep an eye out for these warning signs to prevent being sprayed.
After getting rid of your skunk, keep others from entering your property by removing available food and shelter. Some steps you can take to make your home less attractive include:
Skunks breed in the spring, so it's important to do any skunk trapping before the breeding season begins. It is beneficial to remove a skunk before the number of skunks in your yard increases and your problem worsens.
Skunks are skittish - anchor your trap by placing a brick on top of it so that it doesn't rattle and startle the skunk when it steps inside.
Wear gloves when handling a skunk trap to protect yourself from contact with the animal.
After removing your skunk with a live trap, keep it out by using a taste-based skunk repellent.
Becoming familiar with your local wildlife control regulations before attempting to trap and relocate a skunk is encouraged.