It’s the middle of the night. You are sound asleep until, suddenly, your nose drags you out of your dreams and into the world of reeking romance.
In February and March, skunks go a-courting. But admiration isn’t always mutual, so a female may chase away an aggressive male with a shot of her perfume; hence, the sudden burst of scent seeping into the house on a late winter night.
Despite their occasional odors, however, skunks are wonderful animals — gentle, shy, and rarely disposed to using their defenses. People have accidentally caught skunks in Havahart traps aimed at woodchucks, and were not sprayed as they let the captives loose.
What’s more, skunks eat many rodents and pest insects — even digging up yellow jacket nests to get the larvae. Savvy farmers love skunks. One farmer who had a skunk living in a barn for five years said, “My skunk never sprayed in or near the barn, although he did occasionally have residual stink from an argument elsewhere!”
So putting up with some bad scents can make good sense. —J.S.