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Patch Chat: Are Skunks a Stinky Situation in Oak Forest?

Readers have spotted a lot of skunks in Oak Forest, and they want to know—where are they coming from, and how do they get rid of them?

Nobody likes a skunked dog, and Patch reader Scott Johansen would know better than most. Johansen's dogs have been sprayed a combined five times. On any given evening, he says, skunks trot out into his yard around sunset, and the number of skunks he's spotted has seemed to increase within the past two years.

Another Oak Forest Patch Facebook fan said a family of skunks has taken up residence under his shed, and he's not sure what to do.

But has the skunk population in Oak Forest actually increased? We have a call in to Oak Forest Animal Control. In the meantime, we spoke with one commissioner, who said there are no more skunks in Oak Forest than in past years, and that living among so much forest preserve land can have its drawbacks, like .

Last week, Ben Nelson, a . Nelson suggested eliminating feeding options, trapping, and sealing off openings to burrows the animals make.

Oak Forest Animal Control suggested spotting the animals' den, and pouring cooking oil over the entrance. Yahoo.com Answers suggests sticking some old rags soaked with plain household ammonia (best to use a long stick or a pole because you don't want to get too close) under the porch, deck, shed, garage that they are living under.

Many want more help in handling their stinky enemies, Johansen told Patch. Are you one of them?

We Want to Know:

  • Have you encountered these fragrant critters? How frequently?
  • What tips have you heard in helping combat the problem?
  • How do you de-skunk a dog? What tips have you used, or which have proven most effective?
  • Do you have skunks living in your yard, under your porch, or in your area?
EMM August 17, 2011 at 12:56 PM
Yes the skunk problem has gotten worse, in fact it can be intolerable at times in my neighborhood. A big part of the problem where I live is the cat lady. She has a registered colony and leaves food out 24/7. According to aniimal control there is nothing they can do, it gets so bad that I can no longer leave my windows open at night. The neighbor next door could not leave for work on time last week because the skunk decided his front proch would be a great spot to hang out. I know they used to trap but not anymore. I have a friend who lives in a different subdivision in OF who called because there is a foreclosure on his block and they have seen the skunks go under the shed in that yard, animal control told them they no longer have traps or funding to handle this. I don't understand what happened to the traps? You have traps for the feral cats to catch an release.
Kathy Rogge August 17, 2011 at 01:53 PM
The skunk problem is much worse than past years, the skunks are a big problem. My dogs are not able to go out after sunset because they have been skunked several times as well as my neighbors dogs. We have a skunk alert system on my block where we send a text the minute we smell skunk to notify our neighbors not to allow their dogs outside. We have all spent sleepless nights bathing our dogs and many dollars throwing away household items that the dogs have come in contact with after being skunked. It is a problem and saying it isn't is wrong! To answer your questions, once the dogs are skunks do not let them in the house, anything they come in contact with will have to be thrown out. Shampoo them immediately with 3% peroxide, baking soda and dish soap, it sometimes takes several washings. If your dog has long hair get they will most likely need to be shaved after. Hope this helps and hope the city will eventually help us with this issue.
NANCY GRACE August 17, 2011 at 02:26 PM
My dog just got skunked 5 days ago in my yard 150th Menard...you can see families walking around at night next to Jack Hillie not sure if there's a nest? Tomato baths didn't work. Also using "natures miracle" skunk odor remover-isn't working...you have to give it time I guess?
Julia August 17, 2011 at 02:29 PM
My dogs were skunked last week. It was MY fault. I usually go out in the yard first and talk to "Pepe" to make sure there is nothing in the yard before I let the dogs out. I was being lazy and they got skunked. I keep skunk shampoo from the vet at the house (they got skunked before last year) and I made sure to keep them outside when I applied the shampoo which has to sit on them for 20 minutes before rinsing off. I live next to the forest preserve and I love it and know that I have to live amongst God's creatures who live there. Tomato juice does NOT work, don't bother with it; baking soda and peroxide does a little but is very messy. You need to get the shampoo from the vet, it is the only thing that works well....quit blaming everyone else and be responsible dog owners and go outside and check around at night first, the skunks will run away when they see or hear you!
Amanda A August 17, 2011 at 03:01 PM
I've had my dog for just over a year now. He got skunked last summer soon after I got him and again a couple months ago. I've gotten to wondering if it's gonna be an annual thing. The first time he did I was stupid and let him in the house. It stunk for a couple weeks, but I never threw anything away. I washed what I could and the smell wore away eventually. My friend's dog was also skunked last year (she lives a block away) and she told me to use the peroxide, baking soda, dish soap recipe. It works in neutralizing the smell, in other words, your dog will still smell, but it won't spread to the rest of your house. It worked in that case. We used it again right away this year and things went a lot better for my house. The smell on my dog wore off in a week or two. I never considered a skunk problem, there's none living in my back yard, but I have a 300 foot lot on Laramie, and I just blamed it on the space and unruly growth. It bothers me that I have a curious dog, but I don't blame the city or anyone else for the problems he gets into.
Scott Johansen August 17, 2011 at 04:48 PM
I AGREE with Kathy Rogge Above ! The problem is beyond the occasional Skunk. My nieghbor feeds ferrel Cats and we have sighted up to 5 skunks feeding over there... It's a "Beacon of light" when there is a READY food source, as stated to me by a Proffessional Trapper.... A simple hint from the Pro, "Put food up on a Table, other critters can climb and still eat, but skunks don't climb"... My nieghbor has been unwilling to do this... :(
Julia August 17, 2011 at 04:54 PM
I believe Mr. Johansen that you have a problem with your neighbor and NOT with the subject matter, that is being skunks. It is your responsibility living in an area where wild life also live to look out for your domesticated animals...it is also our problem regarding the feral cats. If ignorant people didn't throw away their cats and/or fail to get them fixed, there wouldn't be a feral problem in our area. It is not the cats fault, it is the fault of their owners.
Scott Johansen August 17, 2011 at 05:45 PM
Julia, You are right the problem may be our neighbors fault. However as a dog owner I have fenced in my yard. I do not live that close to any of the forest preserves either. I totally agree with you about people that abandon their animals or don't have them fixed. I can only control what I do. I have remodeled my entire back deck because of this problem and and at night I accompany my dogs outside. Friday I had a get together at my home and my dog got out into the yard. He is getting sprayed from the other side of the fence however he runs up to the fence like any dog would to investigate this intruder. You know if your dog gets hit once a year I can say......"yeah it happens". Last year it happened 4 times!! That is a problem!! As EMM posted......there are nights when I can't even sleep with my windows open. Here's a good question..........if it was rats instead of skunks would the city do anything? I understand they are wildlife but when does wildlife become a nuisance?? When does the city recognize there is a problem?
joanne tracy August 17, 2011 at 05:46 PM
Thus the Hint, Put food for others (Including Cats,raccoons,squirrels, birds etc. ) up on a table. Everyone is happy then. The Skunks will then retreat into more favorable areas (Woods) to find food .... My Dogs get sprayed through the fence. We have done our best to go out with them at night, even though our yard is totally fenced in .... We are at the mercy of the Nieghbor. And because we are nieghborly, we just Ask and Don't Demand the nieghbors change their ways.....I just asked they meet us in the Middle.... This is Joanne Tracy wife of Scott Johansen, that was MY comment above, I forgot to sign in..... Thank you.....
Scott Johansen August 17, 2011 at 06:01 PM
More from the professional trapper that I spoke to. When people leave food out for cats or dogs overnight it's usually not the cats and dogs that eat it. However, all our nocturnal friends such as possums, raccoons, coyotes, foxes, and of course skunks, find their way to the food source. Now you may say "what's the big deal?" and this would be my answer. This further upsets the "natural balance" of things which we have already upset by displacing animals with developement. So now all of a sudden there is a new food source. Well what happens is the animals will flourish?? They multiply more than normal, creating a larger poplulation. The easiest solutions......pick up the food at night,and keep the food off the ground, Make them feel as unwelcome as possible. I was at a party on the other side of OF last weekend and they have a problem there as well. And it is getting worse despite what the city may or may not want to believe. I find it funny that last year they found a rabid bat and sent out all kinds of alerts. Now they have all these skunks running around and if you research it you'll find that skunks are also huge rabies carriers. As for trapping....I'd love to trap them and release them into the woods somewhere however it's against the law. Because of their history of carrying rabies if the animals are caught they have to be destroyed. This is most likely why the city doesn't have the funds to continue trapping.
Scott Johansen August 17, 2011 at 06:13 PM
In response to the questions: •Have you encountered these fragrant critters? How frequently? I can go out just about every night and spot one. My dogs were sprayed 4 times last year and my cat once. One of my dogs got sprayed last Friday as well. •What tips have you heard in helping combat the problem? I have heard to spread vegetable oil on the entrance to thier den, pour amonia on your lot line, moth balls, etc. The trouble with some of these solutions is how will they affect your own pets or your neighbors pets? •How do you de-skunk a dog? What tips have you used, or which have proven most effective? 64oz hyd. peroxide, 1/4 cup of baking soda, and a tablespoon of Dawn dish soap. This will neutralize the odor however depending on how bad your dog got hit will depend on how long the odor lasts. I have tried many products after 5 times. I did not know the vet had a product as another reader suggested. I will look into that as well. There are many remedies out their on the web including of all things, disposable douche. •Do you have skunks living in your yard, under your porch, or in your area? Not in my yard but definitely in my area. I can usually smell skunk discharge at least once a night on any given evening in the summer. They don't hibernate in the winter but they become more domant when it gets cold. But when it warms up a little.....watch out........they're hungry.
Scott Faletti August 17, 2011 at 07:33 PM
Scott , I use the same thing everytime my dog gets skunked.........My rott/lab mix been skunked at least 7 times within the past 2 years.....The only problem is my dog tears them apart so it's hard to get the odor off his huge tongue, lol......
Laura Clemons August 17, 2011 at 08:01 PM
I learned at the presentation that a skunk can hit it's target from 10 feet away. I am amazed that my dogs always get hit smack dab right between the eyes!
Brian August 17, 2011 at 09:41 PM
If someone has any information for de-skunking humans it would be appreciated. I have had several situations where I have been playing a game of chicken, staring down skunks, while feeding out pet rabbits. I think it would be best, to keep those supplies on hand, as this is becoming a regular occurrence in the 1st Ward.
Julia August 17, 2011 at 09:47 PM
Brian, funny..I just talk to them and they run (and fast too) back into the woods. after I give the dogs a deskunk bath I used the shampoo from the vet in the wash machine for the towels and on my hands and arms and face and it got rid of the smell. Great stuff and only $7.50. My vet is Bremen on 159th in Tinley.
Scott Johansen August 18, 2011 at 05:48 AM
Julia, What is the name of it? I'd love to try it. It's hard to get out of your clothes as well. I'll have to take the time to try some. Brian, if you can get that close maybe a super soaker with bleach water will deter that bugger!! Scott, at least your dog is making them pay!!
Scott Johansen August 19, 2011 at 06:22 AM
Just an update from my yard readers. Last night I chased two skunks away in my front yard, and tonight another. Had to close windows last night due to skunk smell. Saw a dead one on about 156th and Laramie on my way home. Can't say I was sad about it!!
Julia August 19, 2011 at 05:02 PM
The skunks won't bother you unless you are threatening to them. Just leave them alone and quit being so mean. The shampoo from the vet is called Skunk-Off. It is made by Thornell Corporation...www.thornell.com
Scott Johansen August 22, 2011 at 06:03 PM
Sorry Julia but the skunks are an unwanted nuisance. I have no problem leaving them alone until they become a threat to my pets which they have. I am a responsible pet owner with a fenced in yard. My dogs should be safe in their own yard. However they are are not and therefore it is my job to do whatever I can do to protect them. If you expect me to feel bad because I see a dead skunk, well, that's not going to happen. This problem has gotten out of control. Once again last night I chased one away from my fence line. I spoke to several neighbors and they all agree that the problem is worse this year than ever before. The city needs to step in and do something. Residents should be able to sleep with their windows open on nice nights like the last few. Instead I found myself once again last night shutting the bedroom window at about 1:00 AM.
Julia August 22, 2011 at 06:20 PM
Scott, you should move to the City where there are no forest preserves or prairies and therefore no skunks....if you like your lawn (which most men do) you should love skunks, their main diet are grubs! They also eat rats and mice which you probably also don't want around your yard.
Shannon August 23, 2011 at 12:23 AM
http://www.idph.state.il.us/health/infect/reportdis/rabieschart.htm As you can see, there have been no cases of rabies reported in skunks since 1999.
Scott Johansen August 23, 2011 at 01:11 AM
Julia, Skunks do eat grubs.....however they dig nice holes in your yard to get them!! How about this Julia? You seem to like them so much.....how about we have the city trap them and drop them off in your yard. Problem solved? You could be the skunk sanctuary!! Am I being sarcastic...absolutely. You've attacked me from the beginning of this discussion and all but said I was not a responsible pet owner. And for the record why would skunks eat grubs, mice, and rats when there is plenty of cat food and bird seed being left out which is a lot less work for them? Believe it or not Julia I love wildlife as much if not more than the next guy. If I could trap them and set them free in the woods I'd be more than happy to. However it's AGAINST THE LAW!! State law requires that the animals be destroyed if they are trapped. Otherwise I would've rid my area of the neighborhood of the problem a long time ago and I would've released the animals deep into the forest preserve where hopefully they would have thrived and nature's balance would've taken it course.
Scott Johansen August 23, 2011 at 01:11 AM
And zero cases in raccoons in 21 years but if they were a nuisance I'd still want to eliminate the problem. What's your point?
Julia August 23, 2011 at 01:30 PM
Wow you are a piece of work...I'm glad I'm not your neighbor...end of story.
Scott Johansen August 23, 2011 at 02:16 PM
I've got an old saying: Don't pitch if you can't catch. I do however want to thank you for the "Skunk off" tip. I have ordered some but hopefully I'll never have to use it again. Why are you so upset? Did I not make it clelar that I think destroying the animals is the last option? Have I not said the city needs to step in with a solution? I'm sorry if the truth hurts.
Scott Johansen August 25, 2011 at 05:36 PM
And another skunk update: It appears that another neighbor's dog got hit last night as well. Numerous times for them as well. When is the city going to step up?
Julia August 25, 2011 at 06:17 PM
Give it a rest...it isn't the City's responsibility. It's nature...you have to live with them and they have to live with us.
Scott Johansen August 26, 2011 at 04:51 AM
So if wildlife becomes a nuisance who's responsibility is it? Especially since it's against the law for me to take care of it myself even in a humane way. Sorry but I don't sweep things under the rug until I get an answer. If the city/state wants to allow me to trap and then release in the woods I'd be happy to.
Cynthia September 14, 2011 at 12:13 AM
I do not leave any food out and my back yard is what I call infested with Poseum, skunks and racoons. They are getting so daring they come out in the day time. When I was a dog owner animal control would be over to my house, ticket in hand, if my dogs barked, even if they were barking at them in my gangway. Now they say there is nothing they can do. I am even afraid to let my young children put in the backyard because of what they can do to them. My parents are OF residents also and thier dogs have been sprayed. What are all of our elected officals going to do about this...like everything else nothing!
Frank DeVries March 28, 2012 at 12:35 PM
These arent the usual skunks doing this it the politians ,vote them out redo all wages from the top down in the city government. And the people set their wages , they will tell you that to have someone that knows what they are doing you have to pay for it . Evidently then it has to be a volunteer job so finances wont affect their pocket book.

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