What's That Smell? Skunk Population is on the Rise

The skunk population continues to climb in the northwest suburbs, the Chicago Tribune reports.

Skunk populations hit an all-time high last year, the Chicago Tribune reports, with a total of 9,510 skunks reported in the city and surrounding suburbs. According to the Tribune, based on reports from local groomers and animal control companies, the number of skunks continues to climb in the northwest suburbs.

According to the newspaper, Brad Reiter, owner of Critter Control in Palatine, specializes in skunk problems. The Chicago Tribune reports Reiter has been trapping up to 15 skunks a day not only in Palatine, but also in Arlington Heights, Buffalo Grove and other surrounding communities. 

A skunk will give many clear signals before it sprays; according to animal control, a skunk will stamp its front feet, arch its back, and shuffle away. If you don't leave right away, the skunk will turn around, raise its tail, and release the smelly musk, a sulfur-alcohol compound. According to animal control, the skunk's spray not only stinks but it can also burn and cause temporary blindness if sprayed directly into the eyes.

The Village of Palatine recommends that people or pets who get sprayed use this mixture to get rid of the smell. 

  • 1 quart 3 percent hydrogen peroxide
  • 1/4 cup baking soda (sodium bicarbonate)
  • 1 teaspoon liquid soap or dish detergent
  • Mix these together and bathe ("shampoo" in or rub down) the spray victim thoroughly.
  • Be sure to use this mixture immediately after it is created, as it is unstable.
  • Rinse with tap water afterward, and repeat if necessary.
  • For spray in the eyes, flush with water as soon as possible.


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