Have you been noticing that unmistakable skunk smell more often lately?
It’s not your imagination. Wildlife experts and animal control workers are all saying the same thing: they’re seeing more skunks than ever in the suburbs, Kane County, DuPage County, Cook County and even in Chicago.
Why the increase in skunks?
Skunk populations naturally go through “boom and bust” cycles because of environmental factors which affect their numbers.
The skunk populations in the Chicagoland region are growing because of many factors.
One reason is that there have been a couple of very mild winters. More skunks have been able to survive the winter and have been having litters of skunks earlier in the year, giving the offspring a better chance at survival.
Related: How to get rid of skunk smell
Wet, buggy summers have given skunks a steady supply of insects to feed on and support a growing population.
There has been a decrease in the number of great horned owls, the primary predator of skunks. This has been attributed to the use of rodenticides, which poison not just rodents but the animals that feed on them.
An economic recovery and increasing home values has also meant that people are spending more on their lawns. Healthy lawns can mean more lawn grubs in the soil, a favorite meal for skunks as they prepare for winter.
Another reason is that diseases that held skunk populations in check over the past decades have decreased. Both distemper and rabies in skunks have reduced in the past few years.
Skunks also seem to be growing more adapted to the urban environment. They’ve been spotted more and more right in the city. They’ve been captured in the Lincoln Park neighborhood of Chicago, in the very urban heart of Chicago.
The Illinois Department of Natural Resources keeps track of the skunk population by measuring the number of skunks captured by licensed skunk removal companies and the number picked up by city and state workers as roadkill.
Licensed animal control companies captured 6,700 striped skunks in the Chicago area in 2010. Just six years later, the total doubled to nearly 13,000 in 2016.
That’s a lot of skunks wandering around through the Chicago area.
It means more holes in lawns from skunks hunting grubs. It means more encounters with skunks and dogs, which can be a really stinky and challenging situation to deal with.
It also can mean more human and skunk encounters, and skunks searching for homes under people’s patios and porches.
Related post: What to do when your dog gets skunked
Is there anything that can be done about the skunk population?
Homeowners can make sure they don’t make their homes and properties attractive to skunks. By implementing a grub control program on your lawn, you can remove one of their favorite food sources.
Related Post: Repel skunks
Other than that, at some point nature will probably take over. Animal populations move through cycles of lower and increased numbers. At some point either weather, disease or predators will bring the skunk population back down.
For now, though, watch out for these stinky neighbors.
For professional skunk removal services in the Chicago suburban area, contact Attic Solutions for humane removal of skunks and other pests.
Contact us online or call 847-464-1861
Related news stories: