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What’s up with those Sonoma County skunks?

Editor's Note: Our Wild Neighbors, a new column written by staff at the Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue, will appear monthly. If you have questions about residents of our natural world, address them to education@scwildliferescue.org.

What is going on with skunks these days? I hear them fighting and spraying at night, my neighbor has them under the deck, and they're smashed all over the road. Have the skunks gone crazy?

They're crazy all right - love crazy. As Valentine's Day approaches, we are in the midst of mating season for skunks. Fights break out, and spray starts flying. This explains the interesting smells in the night.

The lady skunk is probably scoping out your neighbor's deck as a nursery for her new babies. If you don't have a skunk under your house yet, it's time to check your house for holes and gaps so you don't get a new tenant. All that traveling to find a lovely lady brings skunks across roads. They have bad vision and aren't threatened by many predators, so they don't pay attention to cars until it's too late.

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Now I have a skunk under my house. Can I trap and move it somewhere else?

Unfortunately, in California it's illegal to trap and relocate wildlife. However, the skunk doesn't need to move in with you. Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue operates a Wildlife Exclusion Service, humanely excluding the skunk from under your house so it is forced to relocate. Call 992-0276 if you find yourself in this situation.

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My dog was sprayed. How do I help her lose the smell?

You've probably heard that tomato juice takes off skunk smell. Nope. Your dog will just smell like skunky tomato. Instead, wash your dog with this mixture:

1 quart 3-percent hydrogen peroxide

1/4 cup baking soda (sodium bicarbonate)

1 teaspoon liquid soap or dish detergent

Mix it all together and use it right away. Rub it into the skunked dog, and rinse with water. Repeat if necessary. Skunk smell is not permanent, so don't panic.

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Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue is a 501c3 nonprofit whose mission is to rescue sick, injured and orphaned wildlife and return them healthy to the wild. For animal rescues, call the hotline at 526-9453. Animal Exclusion services are available at 992-0276. If you'd like a tour of the facility or a field trip, contact the Education Program at 992-0274.

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