As Program Coordinator for Wildlife Damage Management at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, it is my job to provide research-based information on wildlife damage management to the public. It was with disappointment that I read the advice given by Chip Wade in the
Stephen M. Vantassel rescuing a skunk trapped in a window well.
column entitled “Talk to a Tool Man” in the section “There’s a skunk in my backyard. Help!”, in the September 2014 issue of your magazine. While I commend him for at least suggesting that people control potential food sources and harborage locations for skunks, I was saddened by the poor information he gave regarding the management of skunks. In fact, some of this information actually encouraged your readers to violate the wildlife laws of the states in which they live.
First, lights will not stop skunks from visiting the yard or taking up residence, if the location is suitable to them. If skunks were as afraid of lights as Mr. Wade suggested, then why is it that so many urban residents in well-lit cities have trouble with them? Second, what evidence does Mr. Wade have that urine from dogs or foxes has a repellent effect on skunks? Mr. Wade must understand that just because something is sold in the store doesn’t mean that it is effective. Talk to any fur trapper, and he will tell you that they catch skunks at sets where fox urine is used on a regular basis.
Perhaps most seriously, is the suggestion that people take a live trap (which I assume he is referring to a cage or box trap as opposed to the other live traps known as footholds and cable restraints), capture a skunk, and then drive it away and dump it somewhere. If Mr. Wade did a little bit of research, he would realize that some states ban the translocation of all wildlife, while others ban the translocation of rabies vector species, such as skunks. States that ban the translocation of skunks include, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Nebraska.
In addition, Mr. Wade has assumed that translocation is somehow humane when in fact there are serious ethical issues regarding its humaneness as well as the concern for the transmission of diseases elsewhere. See http://icwdm.org/ControlMethods/Relocation.aspx for further details.
It is my hope that if Mr. Wade or other authors at your magazine wish to discuss wildlife damage management that they would please contact qualified experts to review the advice they distribute to the public.
Here are some publications that would’ve helped Mr. Wade write a better column.
Removing skunk odor http://www.ianrpubs.unl.edu/epublic/pages/publicationD.jsp?publicationId=1427
Dealing with skunks http://www.ianrpubs.unl.edu/epublic/pages/publicationD.jsp?publicationId=1621
Of course he is always free to contact me. Let me know how I could be of service in the future. Let’s work together to help the public employee responsible and legal methods to manage their conflicts of wildlife. Thank you for your time.
About the Author
Stephen M. Vantassel is a Certified Wildlife Control Operator (CWCP®) who helps individuals, businesses, and agencies resolve wildlife damage issues through training, writing, expert witness, and research. His latest books are the Wildlife Damage Inspection Handbook, 3rd edition and The Practical Guide to the Control of Feral Cats. He can be contacted at wildlifecontrolconsultant at gmail dot com.
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