Detroit/ Parks & Nature
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Published on February 25, 2024
Michigan Battles Stench as Skunk Mating Season Escalates, Public Urged to Take PrecautionsSource: Jef Poskanzer, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Love may not be in the air for Michigan residents, but a less enchanting scent certainly is—it's skunk mating season, and that can only mean a foul nightmare for noses and pets alike. From now until the end of March, skunks are prowling for partners, and with their emergence comes the increased risk of foul-smelling encounters with pets and people. As WOODTV reports, "It’s the skunk breeding season. So through February and March, they are up and moving and looking for a mate," according to Rachel Lincoln, a wildlife outreach coordinator for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

For dog owners, the advice is to rigorously avoid letting pets roam freely, especially during dusk and dawn when skunks are most active. Alexander Strauch, a staff veterinarian for the Michigan Veterinary Medical Association, recommends "having a non-retractable leash is preferred because of the pet owners’ ability to manage the distance to which their dog is away from them more easily," he told Bridge Michigan. With 55 confirmed rabies cases in Michigan last year, Strauch emphasizes that keeping dogs up-to-date with vaccinations is more crucial than ever.

When a skunk does spray, the aftermath is nothing short of odious. The Humane Society of the United States has a recommended cocktail for de-skunking your canines that includes a quart of 3-% hydrogen peroxide, 1/4 cup baking soda, and a teaspoon of liquid dishwashing soap, as detailed by ClickOnDetroit. Remember, it's critical to use this remedy immediately after spraying to minimize the stench and avoid bottle storage—as it's a concoction with an explosive potential if left sealed.

Homeowners looking to deter these striped stinkers from taking up residence should take preventative measures by removing attractants like food and secure places to hide. "Removing any piles of leaves or sticks from your yard could deter skunks from settling there," as Bridge Michigan advises. It's not only about the nose; it's about public health, as evidenced by the significant number of rabies cases among skunks last year reported by WOODTV.

For those who spot skunks during the day or behave unusually friendly, it's a red flag. "Seeing them during the day or having them approach people is not natural," Lincoln warned WOODTV. Michigan State University is currently tracking skunk populations, so sightings should be reported. In the meantime, Michiganders are just trying to get through a few more weeks of this malodorous amor without too much of a stink.