This last year, we put in lush perennial flower gardens in our backyard and added them to our front yard beds, as well. They’ve become a haven for hummingbirds, butterflies, bumblebees, dragonflies and rabbits. We have a lot of rabbits here where we live. I don’t mind them because they seem to only eat our weeds, thankfully. I like to think of them as our very own full-time gardeners. Late spring, we noticed a burrow hole under one of the AC units on the west side of our house. This area has 3 units and is covered by a large hedge to hide the equipment. We were pretty sure it was the rabbits moving in because we see a lot of them.
One late night a few weeks later, Rylie (our female Yorkie) had to go the bathroom at 3:00 a.m., so I took her out. (This rarely happens.) Out of the corner of my sleepy eye, I saw a faint shadow with a bushy black tail. I thought I was seeing things, so I dismissed it. But, a few nights later, Mark had to do the same again with Rylie and sure enough, he did see in his words, a Cute Little Baby Skunk in our backyard. This worried me, because I didn’t want Rylie to get bitten, but even more so – SPRAYED. I can’t imagine how to begin to get that smell out of a Yorkie’s lush coif. I had hoped that the skunk we saw was the lone ranger and just passing through.
A few days later, I trimmed up the front yard flower beds and this included that hedge by the AC units. I was on a small 2-step ladder with electric trimmers working away on all sides including the back behind the hedge for 2 hours even on my knees raking out leaves from the bottom and so on. That same evening at dusk, I received a frantic phone call from my neighbor saying that she had just seen a Momma Skunk with at least 5 baby skunks walking out from that AC unit/hedge in single file along the house as if going on a fun field trip to our front yard! That was too close a call on my part and I freaked out – Getting rabies, etc. from yard work? Really?!
The country boy in Mark wanted to take care of the situation himself and asked me to go buy a skunk trap at Tractor City. I was reluctant on so many levels, wondering the following:
- How’s Mark going to deal with trapping and not getting sprayed himself? I had visions of him going to a meeting with a Wall Street Stock Analyst at work the next day reeking and there being a big, white, skunk elephant in the room…
- Where is he going to take them once he traps them? To the country getting caught for trespassing… He would have probably taken them to the girls locker room if he was still in high school as he seriously did this with a possum when he was a teenager.
- And, if he brings a gun out, will the neighbors alert the local Police SWAT team that a crazy man is waiving a gun around in the neighborhood?…
- Also, he had back surgery a few weeks before this and was Vicodined up so much that he wasn’t quite his coherent self to do basic things around the house much less Skunk Extraction.
Reluctantly, I went to Tractor City, bought a cage and got on Facebook knowing surely that my Karnes City friends and family must have experience in this area. 🙂 I did get a lot of good advice. One of Mark’s classmates said that skunks just love bacon grease and that is what “his own mother uses”. Hm. I was also told by my Dad to just quietly sneak up behind the cage with a tarp in front of me and completely cover the cage and I wouldn’t have a problem as “he does it all the time”. Another – Hm.
So, Mark and I cooked up some bacon – put it in some tin foil in the back of the cage, got an old tarp ready in the garage and set the cage outside the AC units on our driveway. The next morning, Mark got up at dawn and went out just in time to see torn up foil everywhere – an un-sprung trap and a nocturnal skunk going back into the AC area for his daily rest, but not before stopping to look back and aggressively rearing up his tail as if to say: “Get us more bacon damn it!”
I knew we needed to up our game, so I called our County’s Animal Control division. They said it was too hot in the summer to deal with this type of thing and they gave me the name of a good Animal Extraction Company that they even use: Trutech. I called and made an appointment. An adorable young man came out. He, as with all technicians in this company hold college degrees in Wildlife Management and he had recently graduated from Texas A&M – a plus on our part.
We talked Skunks. I asked him how much right off the bat… Now, if a person doesn’t just come out and tell you the cost, but says “okay, but first let me tell you what this is going to entail” – you know to just hold on because it is probably going to be pricey.
So, the plan was this: We would sign a contract with him to hire him out as our Skunk Hitman. He said he couldn’t let them live because the State of Texas would not allow for it – turns out that they can’t be vaccinated for rabies… He would come out for up to 10 to 14 days… He’d place traps at the entrance to every burrow – which turned out to be a Plush, 3 Bedroom Condo, as they had made beds under every AC unit. Once they are were all trapped and “discarded”. I’m guessing in a river with little cement shoes, he would double check to make sure they were all gone… He would then fill up the holes with Sakrete to ensure that their friends/extended family don’t follow them as if by time-share to the Williams’ house…
The cost? $600 or $100 per critter! Mark said any redneck from our area would love to make $600 doing what he would be doing every Saturday night, anyway. Spotlightin’ creatures, deer no, really creatures for sport and cash… A dream job! My hair dresser said, “Pay the man!!!” He once had a lab get sprayed and before he could catch him, he ruined his master bedroom comforter and a number of area rugs, trying to get the smell off himself. That certainly put the price tag in better perspective for me.
Anyway, everyday, the tech came out and texted me a picture of his catch. One day he caught 2 for one. They were so cute, I felt mildly bad – but just mildly.
Just so you know, here is what I learned that the experts do:
They place the small traps which are wrapped completely in a Black Trash Bag cut up and taped to all sides except the front panel to make them blacked out, for ease of removal and to keep the animals calm and cozy… They also place little movable everyday used flower bed panels on either side of the cages from the entrance of each burrow to herd them directly into the cage like an airport ramp to an airplane… He said they don’t really need food, but if he thinks it may help – he uses Cheetos. I shrieked and asked what their favorite was: “Crunchy or Puffy!?!!!” As I’m a crunchy Cheetos lover and think puffys are for whimps (Mark likes puffy)… 🙂 The hitman laughed and said it really didn’t matter, however I’ll never think of Cheetos the same way again.
In a week, we were skunk free and I learned the fine art of skunk trapping not that I’d ever do it, but at least I can pass this $600 advice on to you… Let me know how it goes.