WILDLIFE AROUND THE HOME: SKUNKS AND MOLES. As spring rains soften and hydrate the soils and underground insect and other invertebrate populations increase, the dinner table is set for critters with insects on their menus such as the EASTERN MOLE and STRIPED SKUNK. Many times mole and skunk foraging causes damage to homeowner's lawns. With moles, damage most often consists of raised tunnels just below the surface that meander, twist, and turn across a yard. These are the feeding tunnels of moles and are most prevalent in the spring and fall when it is easiest to tunnel through the ground. It is no coincidence that spring and fall are also the best times of the year to manage mole damage. Trapping remains one of the best management options for minimizing mole damage. There are several models of traps available and all work well if set correctly, used during the right time of year, and placed in an active feeding tunnel. How can one determine if a feeding tunnel is active? Step down on the tunnel to collapse it and wait until the next day. If the tunnel is no longer collapsed the next day, it means a mole is still using the tunnel and has repaired the damage. For more information on mole trapping, see [ http://icwdm.org/handbook/mammals/mam_d51.pdf ].
Skunk foraging on the other hand, with a little patience, is easier to manage. Skunks typically leave behind 3 - 4" diameter cone-shaped holes in lawns, gardens, and golf courses as they dig for insects and other invertebrates (Note: RACCOONS will also dig in lawns but the damage is much more intense, resulting in large sections of damaged lawn). Often times, skunk foraging damage increases in the spring and lasts for several weeks before tapering off. Therefore with a little patience, the problem typically resolves itself. Unfortunately, for those homeowners with pets, a skunk spending time around the home can be an issue when Fluffy or Lassie runs out to investigate the interesting black and white critter shuffling around in the yard. If a cat, dog, or even a house has been unfortunate enough to receive a dose of skunk spray, here is a good recipe to use: 1 quart of 3% hydrogen peroxide, 1/4 cup baking soda, and 1 teaspoon of liquid soap. Mix this solution together and use immediately - do not mix it in advance and place it in a closed container. The released oxygen may cause the container to explode. Scrub the pet or building with the solution, wait roughly 5 minutes, and then rinse. Avoid contact with the eyes and other sensitive areas on a pet. For more information on skunk conflict manage, see [ http://icwdm.org/handbook/carnivor/ca_c113.pdf