Skunk Sightings Rising as Grub Season Begins
Despite a slow start to the year, villages have seen a spike in skunk complaints lately — possibly because of an overly abundant grub season.
There’s good news and bad news regarding the number of skunks in Northbrook and Glenview this year — until now, complaint numbers were down over last year, but might spike in the coming weeks as skunk food supplies surge.
“I don’t have actual numbers for this year but I noticed, February through summer, there were not nearly as many complaints as last year,” Northbrook Animal Control Officer, Gina Manski, wrote in an e-mail. There was an explosion in the skunk population and the number of residential complaints in 2011.
On the other hand, Manksi explained that “grub season” is starting. Grubs are the larvae of Japanese Beetle and skunks' dietary staple this time of year. There seems to be an abundance of grubs this year, possibly from the mild winter, and community skunk complaints have spiked recently.
According to Manski, if residents discover lawn damage on their property, it could be an indicator that grubs are underfoot — though skunks are known to do far less damage to lawns when hunting for grubs than other animals.
Anyone looking to prevent lawn damage from grubs and those that hunt them can treat their lawn with products such as Milky Spore or Nematodes.
As for skunk related calls to village officials, the status in Glenview seems the same. “We’ve had numerous [skunk related] complaints,” Judy Roseman, Glenview’s Animal Control officer, said on Wednesday, “mostly smell related, and skunks traveling through yards.”
Roseman said year by year numbers of complaints aren’t tallied by the village and fluctuations in populations of most wild animals in the area are more or less the same. For example, there were booming numbers of chipmunks in the 90s, and at present, coyotes. The populations surge and ebb according to supply of food and presence of diseases such as distemper.
As far as supply of food goes, Roseman pointed out that many people who pay to fertilize their lawns usually don't use grub control. Homeowners often can’t prevent skunks from passing over their property, but controlling grubs can keep skunks from lingering.
Glenview resident, John Karr, replied that is has been a while since he has had a problem with skunks.
“My Aussie actually got nailed by one a few years back. It was real nasty, had to give him a bath in a hydrogen peroxide based preparation I retrieved off the web," he said.
Dave Flinn, of Northbrook, seemed to have a run-in with the animal more recently.
“We have had a big one in our backyard. I can hear it in the bushes some nights. Smelled it last night, but no sign of it," Flinn said. "I escort the dogs out at night, check the yard before I let them out. We had a spraying incident a few weeks ago. Had to do a dog bath at midnight."