Trapping and relocating a skunk (legally!) without getting sprayed

So you have a pesky skunk in your yard and you need to relocate him. Or, you were trying to trap a raccoon and ended up trapping a skunk instead.  

Our Jill of All Trades, Jill Washburn comes to the rescue and shows us how to deal with a nuisance skunk.  

Jill uses a live trap, and then relocates the animal. The Michigan DNR says that once you trap an animal, you have to euthanize it or release it promptly. And, you cannot release an animal onto someone else's property without their permission.

So Jill chose to release the skunk she had. She has a large enough piece of property that she moved it to the back part of the property. Here's how she did it.  

Once you have a skunk in the trap, you have to be very careful how you approach it. If you are too fast or too noisy as you approach, you increase your chances of getting sprayed.  Jill says that skunks have different temperaments. Some are more "trigger-happy" than others. Jill  recommends watching the tail. The closer it gets to straight up, the more at risk you are.  Also, Jill says you are, generally, in the safe zone if you are 15 feet or more away from the skunk. Most cannot spray farther than that.

To move the skunk safely, you're going to need to cover the cage so that it doesn't get upset. Jill says to use a soft cloth like a painter's canvas tarp or an old blanket. If you use something crinkly, like a construction tarp, you risk upsetting the skunk and getting sprayed. Jill recommends doubling the blanket and holding it up in front of you as you approach the cage, watching the skunk carefully. Again, watch the position of the tail. Take your time and approach the trap slowly, and quietly. Once you're close enough to cover it, gently lay it over the trap. Don't just throw it over, or drop it on, the trap. If you startle the skunk, you risk getting sprayed.

Once you have the trap covered, you should be able to pick it up and transport it without too much trouble. The next challenge, though, is to set the skunk free without getting sprayed. Here's how you do that…

When you set the trap down, do it gently, and place it with the door facing away from you. Working from behind the trap or alongside it, pull back the tarp just far enough to be able to open the door. Once you have it open, prop it open with a dowel or stick and move away to let the skunk find its way out. Once it's free, it will instinctively want to move away from you and run for cover. At that point, you should be good!


For baiting the trap, leftovers do a pretty good job. Jill's skunk was caught with a leftover ham sandwich.

For protecting yourself, you may want to consider a face shield, and/or a Tyvek HAZMAT-style jumpsuit. Both are inexpensive and readily available at the big box home improvement stores. You may find them at your local paint store, as well.


There are products available that are specifically made to neutralize the skunk smell. Nature's Miracle makes one and it is available at pet stores and online.

Jill says that products that cut through oils will yield results. Shampoos that strip hair product build-up work well. Jill says that she has had really good results with Lush Brand "Big" shampoo. She's used it on her dogs repeatedly with no problem and great results. It has a really fresh scent, too. Also, we know that Dawn dishwashing liquid is great at cutting through oils and is often used on wildlife, so that would be a good option, as well.


To watch Jill take you through the process, click on the video player above.