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How to catch a skunk

August 4, 2009

We had been finding digging at the chicken tractors every morning for quite a while. A skunk was suspected, and we kept intending to set out a trap, but it wasn’t until last week that we finally got around to it.

We got out the Have-a-Heart trap, which captures the animal but does not kill it (I personally think one that kills it might be easier, especially with a skunk!). Joel put some tuna inside, glued down with peanut butter, which was suggested to him by the guy he works with at camp. When the animal moves the platform with the food on it, two panels of metal fall down on either end and a wire arm also falls down and holds them in place.

setting trap

Then we covered the trap with an old tablecloth, to block any skunk spray from reaching the chickens or us when we approached the next morning and cut a hole for the trap handle.

Joel scattered some grass on top for good measure.

Joel scattered some grass on top for good measure.

We woke up the next morning and put on our “skunk clothes” with eager anticipation to go check the trap. It was empty! BUT–the food was gone! How could this be?

trap empty

We decided to try another approach. That night, Joel tied a piece of bacon to the platform, the idea being that the skunk would have to pull on it and be more likely to trip the trap mechanism.

Well, he tripped it all right. The next morning, the trap was closed but there was no skunk (0r any other animal for that matter) inside. What a mystery! We got busy with other things and the trap and tablecloth (which the skunk, or something, had pulled off and flung aside the second night) remained on the ground for a day or two.

On Friday night, we went to the potluck dinner and sat next to our neighbors, who happened to ask us why there hadn’t been any eggs to buy recently. I told them that there were some, but they were being bought very quickly. Then we told them about the skunk. Scott asked us, “How big is your trap?” Joel motioned with his hands. “You probably need a bigger one; if it’s too small it won’t close fully and the skunk can just back right out.” Mystery solved!

So Scott and his two little girls brought over their much bigger Have-a-Heart and set it up. The next morning, sure enough the skunk was there. Joel said it was a small one, but I didn’t want to risk it to try to get a picture (sorry). Joel approached the trap holding the tablecloth up in front of him, to fool the skunk. (Personally I think I big square white thing with no legs or wings coming towards me would be a little scarier than a person, but I guess that’s why I’m not a skunk.) Here he is carrying the skunk in the trap.

Gotcha!

Gotcha!

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