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More skunks being spotted in Edmonton: ‘We can learn how to live with them’

Click to play video: 'More skunks being spotted in Edmonton: ‘We can learn how to live with them’' More skunks being spotted in Edmonton: ‘We can learn how to live with them’
People are spotting more skunks living inside the city of Edmonton and wildlife experts say people shouldn't panic. As Sarah Komadina explains, people should embrace the animals — albeit, from afar. – Jun 28, 2022

Malcolm and his mom Erin Schaefer are getting familiar with the skunks wandering around their neighbourhood of Summerside in south Edmonton.

“They’re white and black and had a weird looking tail,” the kindergartener said. “I saw them in the garden.”

Schaefer said they were able to call their dog in the house before anything happened when a skunk came into their yard.

Shaefer was even brave enough to volunteer getting a baby skunk, or kit, out of a neighbour’s window well after it fell in.

“I went over there with a blanket and scooped it up, and threw it in a box, and ran upstairs,” Schaefer said,

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Bill Abercrombie with Animal Damage Control said they have been getting a lot of skunk calls — they’re capturing and releasing more than usual.

“Last year were were seeing three or four skunks per litter. Now, our average is around nine or 10,” Abercrombie said.

The biggest litter he has seen this year is 13.

“I think a lot of it has to do with the heat wave last year,” he said, referencing the sweltering temperatures that stayed in the 30 C range and above for weeks in June and July of 2021.

“I think the mortality of young animals and other urban animals that are a little more susceptible when you get hot temperatures like we had over a long period, it took its toll.

“Now conditions are nice and cool and the habitat for skunks couldn’t be better and they are in repopulation mode.”

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Abercrombie said skunks are not afraid of people and can be amazingly tolerant of human activity.

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“They don’t get along with dogs, and if you don’t have a dog in your backyard you won’t have an issue. Generally if you have pets, skunks aren’t going to go there anyways.”

Orphaned skunks at WILDNorth, June 2022. Sarah Komadina/Global News

This is also a busy time of year for WILDNorth, a wild animal rehabilitation facility in the Edmonton area.

Right now there are 50 orphaned skunks in their care. Executive director Dale Ginow stresses when people see kits alone, it doesn’t mean they are abandoned.

“This is a unique time in their life cycle, where they are normally nocturnal, the babies are during the day exploring outside of their den for the first time,” Ginow said.

“Mom might be sleeping in the den and we are seeing all those babies that are exploring and playing outside of the mouth of the den.”

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“In a few weeks, the babies will start the little voyages out with mom and you will see that line of skunks following mom, as she goes out to feed and teach the skills that are needed to survive.”

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If you have a skunk living on your property Ginow said they won’t be there forever: skunks will usually move on in the fall.

“You can seal up those places and avoid skunks coming in next year.”

Ginow said if you are needing to get rid of the skunks, you can make their den a little more uncomfortable by adding light or sound.

Smells from pets will also deter skunks, he said. That said, there are benefits to having skunks in the area.

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“Not only do they control wasps and hornets — especially yellow jackets that live in the ground — they eat grubs which can destroy the lawn, they are actually great animals for getting rid of pests,” Ginow said.

“We really need to live with our wild neighbours — this is not something that is going away. We can learn how to live with them in a harmonious way.”

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