Skunks are a North American mammal known for the distinctive coloring of a black body with a white stripe on their head and two broad white stripes down the spine. They are also notorious for their nasty smelling defensive spray.
They live anywhere from Canada to Mexico and weight from two to ten pounds each. They are nocturnal and retreat to their dens during the winter months. They are voracious eaters and consume plants, fruit, birds and their eggs, insects and other small rodents, living or dead. They mate during the late winter to early spring, usually February and March. Part of their ritual is to spray their musk at that time, so you may detect the unique odor permeating the atmosphere during that time. The odor can carry up to a mile.
When something or someone is sprayed, the horrible odor will last for days.
Skunks build their dens close to their food source and can excavate below decks, porches, sheds, etc. Sometimes they drop into window wells and can’t escape. Their destructive feeding habits can devastate ground cover in search of insects and grubs. They accumulate trash like paper, plastic bags, anything to insulate their burrows, not exactly sanitary conditions around your Ottawa home and family. They are also known carriers and transmitters of rabies.
When frightened (like abrupt movements, loud noises, etc.) or threatened, a skunk will turn around so that its hind end is facing the perceived danger. The skunk (even young skunks) will spray a horribly smelling, stinging, mustard-colored fluid from a pair of ducts inside their anal cavity. An adult can fire four to six successive squirts with an accuracy of up to 15 feet, with a cloud of odor extending three times further. If the fluid reaches your eyes, it will cause acute pain and may result in temporary sight loss.
The most effective and humane manner of handling a skunk problem is covered live trapping and release into an approved area. If you choose to handle the matter on your own, be sure to check on all local laws and regulations in Ottawa.
However, if you do not feel you have the expertise necessary to capture and release safely, you should consider a professional trained and skilled in skunk removal.