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  • USA Wildlife Removal Education Guide - How to keep Skunks out of the Garden

How to keep Skunks out of the Garden

Because skunks are omnivores, gardens can present them with foraging opportunities, both to dig for grubs and to enjoy your veggies. And once they’ve identified your garden as a convenient and rewarding food source, the animals will often become repeat visitors. So to protect the fruits (vegetables) of your labors, the best idea is to fence the critters out.

Chicken wire mesh is the best excluder material. Use it to surround the garden plot and support it with poles spaced a few feet apart. The fence should be about three feet high and since skunks are good diggers, the barrier fencing should extend about a foot underground so the animals can’t dig their way under it with their long, strong claws.

An often easier alternative to building a fence is the use of chemical repellents, some of which can be derived from common kitchen products while others are commercially available at hardware and pet stores. Importantly, skunks forage with their noses close to the ground – a natural instinct that supports their search for ground-dwelling grubs and insects. It also renders them susceptible to the chemical repellants, which can be applied easily using a pesticide sprayer or even a spray bottle.

One of the most common and conveniently available repellents is mothballs, which can be sprinkled in and around the garden and which offend the skunk’s olfactory sense as it sniffs its way along the ground. Similarly, capsaicin -based hot sauces applied to the food sources can quickly discourage their nibbling, and castor oil sprayed on plants leaves them with a taste the animals find unpalatable. Ammonia-soaked rags around the perimeter of a garden can discouraging their entry and for further protection the rags can also be situated in especially susceptible spots around the plot.

Garden centers offer a number of chemical repellents that are effective for use in gardens. Among these are pepper solutions that can be sprayed on skunks’ potential food sources. Various products initially developed as dog and cat repellents are also effective against skunks as are products derived from predator urine. These can be obtained at pet stores and garden centers.

Physical repellent devices can also be available, including motion–activated sprinkler systems and strobe light installations that turn on when the animals approach, startling them into leaving.

The main problem with most chemically oriented solutions, whether commercial or kitchen-based, is their lack of longevity. Many dissipate over a short period of time or are washed away by sprinkler systems or rain showers and have to be reapplied. So if you have the time, energy and materials, the fence is the best alternative.

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