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Trapper's Manual

Trapping Skunk

Easy to trap, skunks generally are not trap-shy. It's a good idea to cover the trap lightly with leaves and grass if several skunks have been caught in an area, since some of the older ones can grow wary. They have a keen sense of smell, and downwind bait will attract them for a considerable distance. Since they are omnivores, a wide variety of baits are effective. Fruits, like apples or bananas, will not draw them from as far away as smelly fish or rotten meat, but they have another plus. Fruits are unlikely to entice pets. Consequently, such bait reduces chances of a wasted trap effort as well as the need to release a dog, cat, or other unwanted species. Skunks are vulnerable to conibear-type traps and a fruit or vegetable bait is even more important when this trap is used. Often skunks killed in Conibear traps will not emit their musk.

Nos. 1 or IY2 trap sizes are adequate for skunks. Skunks will sometimes chew off the front foot below the trap jaws, so a double-jawed trap is advisable. In addition, running your trap line early in the morning will cut the losses of skunk catches.

It is possible to kill a trapped skunk without causing it to release its musk, but no method is always successful. A .22 bullet to the brain is a humane method of killing, but the scent is generally released. Some trappers advocate a .22 to the middle of the spine. It kills quickly and also paralyzes the muscles that control the scent glands and prevents discharge. Some trappers claim success with a slower, more patient approach. They attach the trap chain to a long pole. When a skunk is caught, they move in slowly from upwind, gently lift the pole, and carry it, trap and all, to the water, where the animal is drowned. Others use basically the same method and, when close enough, hit the animal across the back with a stunning blow.

Skunk Sets

Skunk sets are the same as those used for opossum, including site selection. Cubby sets and den entrance sets are most commonly used. However, during the winter, cottontails frequently go underground, using abandoned burrows. So, before making a den set, check for a few skunk droppings or hairs at the entrance. A cubby set is a good substitute and just as effective for skunk or opossum when placed away from the den entrance.

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