For skunks, well, the whole thing stinks.
Head out for a midnight snack or a date, only to wind up in a trap and later be euthanized
Shiremanstown Borough has entered into an agreement with Nuisance Wildlife of Summerdale to handle skunk removal.
The first 10 residents who present the borough with a paid invoice reflecting set-up and removal of at least one skunk will receive a $55 reimbursement — one reimbursement per resident.
Councilman Craig Partridge said the borough decided to implement the program on a trial basis in response to complaints from two to three residents of skunks passing through yards or living under porches, decks or sheds.
“We’re trying to figure out whether this is a real or perceived problem,” said Partridge, chairman of the borough public safety committee. “Just because you see a skunk in the middle of the night does not mean we have a skunk problem.”
George McEntee is owner of Nuisance Wildlife and has been in the business for 15 years. He does not know if the borough has a huge skunk problem, but he can understand why officials are concerned.
In 1996-97, Nuisance Wildlife removed 200 skunks in four months from Camp Hill, McEntee said. Lemoyne and the New Cumberland area were hot spots last year for the black-and-white critters.
“Shiremanstown is just trying to be proactive and keep on top of things so it does not reach that point,” McEntee said. He added that when it comes to skunks, the situation can get out of hand very quickly.
He explained that the typical female skunk has a litter of 10 young every year — about half of which are female. Since the average skunks lives to be about 6 years old in suburbia, a female skunk can be mother to about 60 other skunks in her lifetime, McEntee said.
Living the good life
Suburbia is a better habitat for skunks than Mother Nature.
“Living is easier for them,” he said. “There is more food and plenty of places for them to den up.”
The great horned owl is the main predator of skunks, in part because they have no sense of smell, McEntee said. But, “You do not see a lot of great horned owls in a suburban neighborhood.”
His company dealt with 1,600 problem animals last year, with the bulk of the complaints being for skunks, raccoons and groundhogs, McEntee said.
He added skunks are the number-two carrier of rabies behind raccoons. Statewide, in a given year, 60 to 100 skunks tested positive for the disease and that only includes known cases where the animal was brought to a lab.
The state mandates that all skunks be euthanized in a manner similar to dogs and cats, McEntee said, because skunks can carry rabies without showing any outright symptoms of the disease.
The borough is asking any resident who has a problem with a skunk to contact George McEntee of Nuisance Wildlife at 732-8099. The cost of setting up a trap is $55, while removal of the first skunk is $45.
If raccoons are inadvertently trapped, there will be a $55 removal charge, while opossum removal would cost residents $45. Birds, squirrels, cats or rabbits will be released free of charge.
The borough will not reimburse the set-up fee if no skunks are caught, nor will the resident be reimbursed for the removal of non-target animals.
Partridge distributed hand bills over the weekend explaining the program to residents. He said time is of essence since it is skunk mating season and late winter-early spring is the ideal time to trap the critters.
The borough would rather deal with the removal of adult skunks now instead of waiting three months and remove an adult with a half-dozen babies, Partridge explained.
He added the level of response from residents will dictate whether the program would continue.