it isn't voles eating my tomatoes!

michelelcSeptember 6, 2011

After not successfully catching what I thought were voles eating my tomatoes with snap traps, my friend loaned me a small trap for squirrels, rats, ect... and I set it in my garden last night. I saw first thing this morning it had caught something, so I went out to find a skunk!! UGH, I couldn't believe that small trap caught a skunk! It must be a baby, but it was hard to tell, because somehow the trap was also filled with straw and dirt. We were able to open both doors with a long pole, but the skunk won't leave. I'm hoping that by this evening it will leave. But, now I don't know what to do about skunks in my garden. I do have a fence around the garden, but the back is a wooden fence, and they must be going under it. Not much I can do this year, b/c my huge butternut squash plants are covering up the fence, and I'd have to ruin them to get to the fence. But, next year I'll be putting some wire mesh or chicken wire on the bottom of the fence. I didn't know skunks ate vegetables. Is there anything I can do to deter the skunks for now? I'm not putting the trap back out!

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bumble_doodle(Z5 CT)

Skunks are nocturnal. Set the trap during the day for squirrels, woodchucks, etc but be sure the door is closed at night.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2011 at 12:45PM
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catherinet(5 IN)

You can't be sure its the skunk eating your tomatoes. They may just be innocent bystanders that got caught.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2011 at 4:04PM
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Joe1980(5)

Skunks do indeed eat vegetable of all sorts. They are opportunistic omnivores just like raccoons, and will happily raid vegetable gardens. If you trap one, just approach slowly, and toss a dark blanket over the trap to calm it down. Slowly pick up the trap and set it into a pickup truck bed for transportation to either a distant place (which may be illegal) or to the nearest pond where you lower the trap into the water. Sounds harsh, but it's part of the deal if you want to stop them from eating your veggies. The best thing to do is just fence around your garden with chicken fence or hardware cloth. I personally don't bother with the traps, I just shoot any problematic animals. But, fencing eliminates most of the problems, except for chipmunks, or squirrels & raccoons, which haven't been an issue for me, just those darn chippies.

Joe

    Bookmark   September 6, 2011 at 6:09PM
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michelelc

It came as a huge surprise to find a skunk in the trap. I never even though about it. I'm in a pretty suburban area, and dealing with animals is new to me. I put the trap out at night, thinking I was dealing with voles. I learned my lesson. I did read about throwing a blanket over the trap, but I'm not brave enough to do that. I had a friend come over to open the trap. Maybe if the raiding of my veggies gets worse, I'll get braver. But, shooting anything would be highly illegal where I live, ha ha! I'd probably shoot out a neighbor's window by mistake. But, I do plan on putting up some hardware cloth where the wood fence comes up from the ground. 3 of the 4 sides are fenced in with wire fence.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2011 at 11:36PM
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Belgianpup(Wa/Zone 7b)

Skunks usually don't come around where people have dogs (it's the dogs who find the skunks). Do you have a friend with an unneutered male dog who likes to lift his leg everywhere? Put him on a leash and walk him slowly around the property line.

Maybe give him a nice bowl of low-salt chicken broth first!

Sue

    Bookmark   September 7, 2011 at 2:24PM
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Joe1980(5)

Urbanized animals, which have learned to adapt very well to humans and their homes, aren't usually phased by dogs or dog scent, or if they are, it won't last long. The temptation of an easy meal is too strong, so its tough to deal with these types of animals. I have several neighbors with dogs, and it has no effect on skunks, raccoons, rabbits, chipmunks, or squirrels, and trust me, one of my neighbors dogs used to pee on my young spruce & pine trees, and I used to gripe about it, because it kills the trees. Anyways, these trees are 10 feet from my garden, and it never stopped the pesky animals from stopping by. I have done plenty of nice things for the animals, in the way of trying passive methods to get rid of them, and nothing works long term, and it just causes you more hassle then anything. The only true way to get rid of pesky animals is to literally GET RID of them.

Joe

    Bookmark   September 7, 2011 at 5:25PM
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nygardener(z6 New York)
    Bookmark   September 7, 2011 at 6:08PM
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nancyjane_gardener(Zone 8ish North of San Francisco in the "real" wine country)

It's funny! I have raccoons, possum and skunks that come right up to the Sliding glass door looking for cat food (We no longer feed them at night) and right around the corner is a nice big garden and pond!
I've found a few little nibbles and holes, more likely birds, but I've heard any of these night roamers will tear up a garden or pond!
I've probably just jinxed myself! LOL Nancy

    Bookmark   September 7, 2011 at 8:38PM
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Joe1980(5)

Hey, the birds have always been my friends, so much that I have plenty of feeders out for them. Then, this summer, the house sparrows and house finches decided they liked my garden, and now eat any seedling they can get to, and have been tearing chunks from my cucumber leaves. They've been fine for ages, and suddenly decided to be pests. I have officially let my feeders run empty now, although that's more because of the ridiculous price of sunflower seed now. But, I've noticed that in a matter of days, the birds have moved to someone elses yard, and my garden hasn't been attacked lately.

So, beware Nancy, your little critter friends will eventually turn on you, and then you'll have a hard time getting rid of them. Besides, who would want a skunk hanging around, especially by your door?!?

Joe

    Bookmark   September 7, 2011 at 9:06PM
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nancyjane_gardener(Zone 8ish North of San Francisco in the "real" wine country)

Oh, I don't feed THEM (the critters), but sometimes the cat doesn't finish his food and there is some left for the critters to check out! I don't feed the cats in the evening on the porch anymore.
I've never had a skunk spray, even when the chihuahuas go ape sh** by the window! They just show their tail and wander away! They know who's boss!LOL NT

    Bookmark   September 7, 2011 at 9:55PM
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michelelc

I am going to call animal control next week. I called them when I found the skunk in the trap, but the animal control officer in my town is on vacation this week, just my luck. My friend told me that if you catch a skunk in a trap, the animal control officer will come take it away. I will call to verify that before I re-set the trap! And, next year I plan on putting mesh fencing at the bottom of my wood fence, and I purchased a battery powered electric fence that I didn't have time to install this year, so I'll also do that next year. Hopefully, that will do the trick.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2011 at 10:42AM
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nancyjane_gardener(Zone 8ish North of San Francisco in the "real" wine country)

WOW, Your animal control will come out for a skunk?????
Ours will only come out for emergencies or multiple complaints!
If they came out for every skunk in this area, they'd be getting plenty of OT!!!!!! Nancy

    Bookmark   September 8, 2011 at 8:55PM
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michelelc

Nancy, I'm not sure if they will come :) My friend who lives in a town closeby said they came and got a skunk he trapped in his town. But, I will definitely call before I set the trap again! There is probably a good chance they won't come.

    Bookmark   September 9, 2011 at 7:38AM
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