They're smelly, sneaky and scary, but most importantly they're upon us.
© Submitted photo
Skunks are often spotted going through garbage between the alleys on the 1100 and 1000 block of 1st Ave. NW. Submitted photo
Skunks can pose a dangerous threat to both pets and humans especially during this time of year.
"They're not somebody you should try to harbour in your neighbourhood. They cause a lot of problems," said Darrell Crabbe, executive director of the Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation.
And it's not just these nocturnal animals who are making all the stink. Residents in Moose Jaw can unknowingly lure skunks into neighbourhoods by not properly containing their garbage.
As a result these pests thrive in the city streets, going from alley to alley looking for any food they can get. Forget their natural diet of small rodents and insects, because they're also after last night's pizza.
Residents should keep an eye out for skunks especially during the month of August until early Fall. "The young ones will be getting a little older and they're going to head out on their own. They're looking to start their own burrow, their own area," said Crabbe.
Alleyways or other areas where garbage is not contained become a hotspot for these hungry skunks. And it's not just a skunk's spray one should worry about.
In Moose Jaw, residents can be ticketed under the Waste Management Bylaw, Unsightly and Untidy Bylaw, or the Provincial Litter Act, for not taking care of their garbage.
"It's everybody's responsibility to look after their own garbage in their back alley, because most [skunk] occurrences are going to happen at night," said Matt Noble, city manager in Moose Jaw.
All residents in the city are required to put their garbage in a contained bin to prevent access by stray animals or birds.
However, the city is more concerned about informing the public about tidiness than they are ticketing for this offence.
"It can come to a fine, but we really try to work with people so that they're educated first of all, because a lot of the time people don't understand that's the requirement. We give them the education, then we can order them to clean it up," said Stacey Landin, bylaw enforcement officer.
According to Landin, the city hasn't received any calls this summer in regards to garbage untidiness, but they have received calls for some skunk sightings.
Always exercise caution when a skunk is around, said Crabbe, who also encourages residents to call the Ministry of Environment when one is spotted. The Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation also loans out traps so residents can take care of the pests. More information on skunks can be found through the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies at www.cfhs.ca.
Skunks carry a number of diseases that effect both humans and their pets.
"The most prevalent disease that always comes up with skunks is rabies. Skunks have a higher percentage of having rabies than any other animal," said Darrell Crabbe, executive director of the Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation.
Other animal to human diseases people can catch from these predators are leptospirosis, a bacterial disease and intestinal roundworm.
Because skunks sometimes live underneath homes or dig holes in backyards, they also become a nuisance for pets who share the same space.
Therefore, pets can catch ticks, fleas, lice, distemper or canine hepatitis from skunks.
The best way to avoid skunks is to make the area of a home unliveable for them. This includes setting traps, and keeping garbage properly secure.