skunk stinking and chasing man in forest

The Wrong Way to Handle a Skunk Encounter

Handling a skunk encounter wrong can result in a stinky situation and one that you’ll surely want to avoid.

If you spend time outdoors, you’ll likely encounter one of these odorous animals eventually. However, knowing how to handle these encounters can help you avoid smelling like rotten eggs.

Today, we want to do our part to help you avoid handling a skunk encounter the wrong way.

Let’s get to it!

Where Do Skunks Live in the United States?

Skunks are a part of the weasel family and are found in 48 states. They’re one of the most common species throughout North America.

Alaska and Hawaii are the only two states without an active population. However, officials have captured skunks in Hawaii, but they are not native and prohibited on the island.

They can survive in just about any habitat except some parts of the Rocky Mountains and desert regions. You’ll find them in urban and rural environments, but they prefer wooded or grassland areas.

In an urban environment, they’ll make homes under decks, porches, and crawl spaces. Like raccoons and other nocturnal pests, they search an area for food.

How Common are Skunk Encounters?

While skunks live just about everywhere in the United States, encounters are rare. This is primarily because they’re nocturnal creatures and come out once most people have gone to bed. Luckily, most people typically only encounter them as roadkill on the side of the road.

Skunks may prefer to avoid humans, but interactions are sometimes inevitable. You may cross paths with one as it attempts to find food near your home or other dwelling. The hungrier they get, the more determined they’ll become to find a food source.

These encounters can become a severe problem when the animals feel threatened. They may not be able to do serious physical damage, but they can emit a rather putrid spray.

Getting rid of this odor can be challenging and requires serious effort. Your best bet is to avoid them at all costs.

The Wrong Way to Handle a Skunk Encounter

To avoid smelling like rotten eggs, knowing how to handle a skunk encounter is a good idea. Here are several things you can do to help ensure this unfortunate situation doesn’t happen to you.

Getting Too Close

One of the biggest mistakes you can make when encountering a skunk is to get too close. They’re able to spray their pungent mist approximately 15 feet.

It’s so bad smelling and strong that humans can smell it up to a mile away. That’s pretty terrible!

Luckily, a skunk isn’t likely going to spray you if you walk by it. However, if you’ve cornered it and are approaching it, the spray is its last line of defense. It’ll have no other choice but to use it.

If you’ve never smelled the funk of a skunk, you’ll have to trust us on this one. It’s not something you want to get on your hands, clothes, or anything else you plan to take with you. You’ll instantly regret it.

If you mess up meeting a skunk, it is much less dangerous than some other wild animals. Learn The Wrong Way to Handle a Bear Encounter before it’s too late!

Ignoring Warning Signs

Skunk with tail up in backyard

Like many animals, skunks will give warning signs before unleashing their spray. Typically, this combines hissing, stamping their front feet, and raising their tail. Sometimes, they may even do short, forward charges to get you to move away.

However, you’re on thin ice when they raise the tail and twist their rear towards you. At any second, they could unleash a fury of stank on you.

Sudden Movements and Loud Noises

Another wrong thing to do when encountering a skunk is to make sudden movements and loud noises. Startling them will be fine if you give them a clear path to escape.

It becomes a significant problem when they have nowhere to go, and your movements and noises frighten them.

They will likely interpret your actions as threatening their safety and attempt to protect themselves. Their best means of escaping is to spray whatever is trying to harm them.

As a result, it’s best to keep your distance and avoid any quick or sudden movements. Remain calm and leave the situation as calmly and quietly as possible.

Feeding the Skunk

Another wrong way to handle a skunk encounter is to try to feed them. Sure, skunks can be cute and docile creatures.

However, they’re also wild animals, which you should never feed. Doing so can cause serious harm to the animal’s health and cause them to see humans as a food source.

It doesn’t matter what others are doing or how defenseless the animals appear; you should never feed them. They’ve existed for many years without the help of humans and will continue to do so.

Allowing Pets to Approach

In some areas, many people allow their dogs to roam off-leash. However, one of the dangers of this is that the pet could encounter wildlife, like skunks, along the way.

It’s not uncommon to hear reports from owners of their dogs getting sprayed by a skunk during an outdoor adventure.

This is because dogs are curious by nature. They’ll poke their nose into situations where it doesn’t belong to discover more about it.

Unfortunately, if they’re chasing down a strange smell that belongs to a skunk, there’s a good chance they’ll get sprayed. If you thought your dog needed a bath before, this will take it to a new level.

Not Giving the Skunk an Escape Route

We can’t reiterate enough the importance of giving a skunk an escape route. We’ve said it multiple times, but people often need to remember when encountering a skunk in the wild or a structure.

If you give them a way to escape, they will be relatively innocent. They’re not going to pose you or anyone else any harm. However, if you block them in or restrict access to safety, they will lose it and start spraying.

Trying to Capture the Skunk

Capturing a skunk can be challenging because they’ll spray you as you approach the trap. As a result, it’s best to leave these types of jobs up to a professional. It’s a task you want to make sure gets done right.

Call someone with the right tools and expertise to do the job if you have a skunk living under your porch or around your home. Once they remove it, start addressing why it found the area hospitable. You should invest in better trash cans or seal holes around your porch, deck, or crawlspace.

Handle a Skunk Encounter the Right Way

Hopefully, the next time you smell the distinct odor of a skunk, it’s nothing more than in passing while traveling down the road.

However, if you spot a skunk in the wild, use our tips to handle the encounter the right way. We, and your loved ones, don’t want you coming home smelling funky. So, keep an eye out for skunks while you’re adventuring.

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