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Does Salem Have a Skunk Problem?

You tell us - do you think the city of Salem has a skunk problem?

When Salem's Health Agent detailed the city's growing rat population at a City Council meeting last month, we published a post entitled: Does Salem Have a Rat Problem?

The answer from our readers was overwhelmingly yes.

However, we couldn't help but notice that many of those who commented used the post as an opportunity to sound off on the city's skunk population.

In fact, every once in a while the actions of a wayward local skunk will end up in our daily Salem Patch police log posts. Just last Thursday, Salem police officers were called to check on a suspicious skunk that was spotted walking down the middle of the street near the intersection of Gallows Hill Road and Witch Way.

On Thursday, Jan. 31, local officers responded to a report of a rabid skunk at the intersection of Webb and Cousin streets - but were unable to find anything in the area.

Here's what some of our readers have already said about Salem skunks:

Diane Britter: I saw a rat on Howard Street and it was as big as a groundhog. How come nobody is talking about the skunk problem as well? When the warmer weather comes the skunks are EVERYWHERE. When I walk my dog on trash day I'm constantly having to be on alert as the skunks get into the trash. The commons is teaming with them. One morning I counted 5 skunks when walking my dog around the commons.

Carolyn Costain: Its been a problem for 4 to 5 years now in that area. You are also right about the skunks. I rarely take my dog to the common because of the skunk population but the Willow are the worst. I don't go there anymore. On just one walkway near the water side, I counter 17 skunks and turned around and left . I have not been back there since.

Bob: It's a stinky situation. Rats, skunks, mice, and dogs barking at all hrs and what about those turkeys and geese. But knowing the stupid laws if you kill a rat or a skunk you will be seen by a nosey nieghbor who will call the cops and they will arrest you for abuse of animals.

So, we have to ask: Do you expect to see a lot of skunks in your neighborhood once warmer weather returns? Do you see a lot of them in the winter months?

Do you think the city should do something to reduce the local skunk population? 

Let us know in the comments section below.

sharon February 14, 2013 at 12:00 PM
The willows park area is teeming with skunks in the warmer weather !!! It's awful, watch where your headed or you will end up stepping on one, or two or three or four !!!! sharon
Kathleen Frizzie February 14, 2013 at 12:02 PM
Yes, the city should do something about the skunk problem. A few years ago one got under our foundation and the entire house, including us, stunk for weeks ! We had to hire a trapper to get rid of him. ! It was terrible! Kathy
Jared Robinson February 14, 2013 at 12:55 PM
My dog has been sprayed more by skunks living in Salem than any other area. 3 times in the past year in our fenced in backyard. We smell skunks around everyday. Hell, I smelled one on my walk down Bridge St this morning at 735.
Liz Cobb February 14, 2013 at 01:09 PM
Yes, we have them in the Mack Park area and they come around in our fenced yard on Japonica! My dog got sprayed 3 times about a year ago and my neighbor's dogs got sprayed at least the same amount of times a few months ago. I have been taking the dog out on a leash because it's not safe to let him out in a fenced in yard. The skunk is around even now! Can only imagine what the spring will bring. Someone should call Billy the Exterminator and have them removed and relocated!
Gunther Batton February 14, 2013 at 01:25 PM
There are two homes in the Mack Park area that put out bags of peanuts to "feed the animals" you can thank that kind of behavior for the overpopulation of skunks, racoons, pigeons, and squirrels around here.
adrienne February 14, 2013 at 01:47 PM
I live in the Derby Wharf neighborhood. First it was the squirrels. Somebody in the neighborhood was feeding them walnuts. My yard, parking lot & street were always littered with empty walnut shells. Thankfully, that stopped & so did the squirrel population. The rats I see are huge! I've always assumed that they are wharf rats who make their way up from the harbor. Pepe le pew and his whole family must live over here now! I see skunks during the day, at night, under my bushes, walking in the road. Dogs in my neighborhood frequently get sprayed! Skunk problem? Ya think?
Susan Major February 14, 2013 at 01:49 PM
I've seen lots of them shuffling around at the Willows. And if I arrive home in the evening, I'm always careful to watch for them since they wander around the yard and streets (I'm near the bridge). And ah, the smell when they have some little battle outside. Urgh.
Gunther Batton February 14, 2013 at 01:52 PM
I hear you! We pick up peanut shells all of the time, they are in my yard on my car, you name it! And the squirrels dig up my grass and garden to hide them what a mess.
Timothy Donovan February 14, 2013 at 02:01 PM
What I find disheartening about this is the large number of people who apparently cannot accept the idea that wild animals live amongst us. A skunk is no more offensive than any other wild creature and is actually less destructive than most. They are largely nocturnal, coming out at dusk to forage for food. All skunks have a very keen sense of smell and hearing, but rather poor eyesight which accounts for so many being hit by cars…….they can only see objects that are less than ten feet away. Their only means of defense is the noxious liquid they produce and spray when attacked and it takes up to ten days to regenerate this, so it’s only sprayed when really needed. You won’t get sprayed simply by walking near one on the street! As far as the “large” population of skunks at the Willows, this is misleading. It’s actually only one “den” of about 4 skunks that lives nearby. They frequent the Willows every night and follow the same route in their hunt for food, usually in the form of overflowing trashcans in the summer months. This is very typical behavior and is NOT an infestation. I have been down the Willows many times and watched as people will deliberately let their dogs chase the skunks just for a laugh which results in unpleasantness for everyone. So perhaps the problem here is not only a lack of understanding, but also a lack of respect for the natural world.
Gunther Batton February 14, 2013 at 02:14 PM
I agree with you Timothy! There is an enormous lack of respect for the natural world. Especially when people interfere with animal habits. As I stated in my other posts the synthetic feeding of wild life causes problems for both the animals and the people it is a well known fact. No one should be purposely promoting the harassment of these creatures that's just bully mentality.
Leonard Nicodemo February 14, 2013 at 02:28 PM
Bravo! Well said friend.
Sue February 14, 2013 at 02:46 PM
Where would you people like these critters to go? We keep taking their homes for our own use. Where can they go that they won't be considered "pests"? We are a selfish species. When we destroy their homes they have no where to go so they are seen more often because they now have to make their homes in the suburbs and cities. Think about it people. You are complaining about displaced animals when we are the ones that displaced them to begin with.
Sue February 14, 2013 at 02:53 PM
Do you want them killed or just relocated? My dog has been sprayed and I don't blame the skunk. It was just protecting itself from the gigantic animal that was barking and chasing it. They are doing what is natural to them. That's their defense.
ryan February 14, 2013 at 02:58 PM
Really Timothy? "lack of respect of the natural world?" Salem is a trash heap. The streets are littered with trash, rats everywhere, junkies, homeless & skunks. There is nothing natural about that my fiend. It's a problem. Drive around Salem on trash day and then tell me people have a lack of respect for the natural world.
Michelle February 14, 2013 at 04:27 PM
Thank you Timothy, well said. It heartening to know there are at least one or two intelligent people left in Salem. If there is any kind of infestation in Salem it's more in the category of dog owners that do not know how to care for and police their own animals (which says alot about their own behavior).
Chris Helms (Editor) February 14, 2013 at 04:50 PM
Yesterday morning, despite the snow, I smelled one very strongly around our house on Buffum. I do have to make a personal admission, though. I find a light whiff of skunk — not a full spray, mind you — not unpleasant. My wife, quite rightly, thinks this is insane.
Jack Carver February 14, 2013 at 05:13 PM
Skunks are harmless and the citys best defense for our rat problem. Skunks eat small rats and mice
Drew February 14, 2013 at 05:43 PM
We camped at Winter Island a few summers ago and had over 20 visits at our site by skunks the first night alone. They had no fear of humans and would walk right under our camp chairs. We also have a resident skunk in our rear yard in south Salem and also has no fear of humans. I have walked within two feet of him and have never had a problem. He only seems to come out at night.
Wendy February 14, 2013 at 06:02 PM
I agree with Timothy. I have a skunk that lives in my yard and has since I moved in. We just watch out for it-and there are 3 dogs in my house! They need to live somewhere and seem to get along with the possums in the neighborhood. My dogs like to watch it and the possums from the 2nd floor porch.
John Dumas February 14, 2013 at 07:32 PM
Research has shown most skunks are attracted to an area by food put out by people thinking they are feeding homeless cats. The skunks find this food in the very early morning.
Giaflower February 14, 2013 at 09:32 PM
Wow! Trash heap? A little harsh. Your'e talking about my home. I am with Timothy.
Cheryl February 14, 2013 at 10:33 PM
The coyotes have considerably cut down the populations of rabbits, groundhogs, and skunks in our neighborhood, which borders the Forest River Conservation area. Maybe, the coyotes have pushed some skunks north towards downtown.
matt buchanan February 14, 2013 at 10:35 PM
How about the dog problem.........and by that I mean all the poop everywhere! Let's start by fixing this. During and after the snowstorm my building at Hazel Terrace was littered with poop and pee everywhere, and now that the melt is happening it's absolutely disgusting! And here's where I'm wrong, it's really a people problem. If you see someone leave poop, follow them home and dump it on their front porch, it's the only way to solve the issue. You can't reason with this type of person and must take a direct action approach.
Dee Dee February 15, 2013 at 01:43 AM
Yes! The Willows has a terrible problem. Last February, the skunk that lived under my house (the section with no foundation) got frightened and sprayed @ 2:00 in the morning. The smell was nauseating. Six days later he did it again. It is hard to open your windows in February to exchange the air. I have made modifications to my house so that won't happen again. This past summer, I saw 6 skunks in about 8 minutes of being outside @ dusk. If you don't have a pet, not to worry...they are not even afraid of people. I was watering my hedge when a mother & 3 babies decided to cool off and purposely walked under my hose as I sprayed. I didn't see them coming and was too afraid to move. It didn't phase them in the least & they kept going. Dee Dee
Joseph Edwards February 15, 2013 at 02:53 AM
There are many more humans in this city, and on these message boards that I find more of a nuisance than a creature simply endeavoring to survive.
Jay Valatka February 15, 2013 at 04:14 AM
Funny that this comes up today. I hadn't caught sight of any skunks in Salem in months, but just this morning, I witnessed a skunk crossing a street in Witchcraft Heights in broad daylight, around 9am. Seemed brazen.
Dee Dee February 16, 2013 at 07:38 PM
Clearly Timothy does not live in the Willows or his census would be more up to date.
Nancy Gilberg February 16, 2013 at 08:54 PM
My dog's been lucky so far, but here's a supposedly effective skunk rinse recipe. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-karen-becker/pet-health_b_1183489.html

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