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Clarion Residents Battling Skunk Problem
Meagan Wrhen lives on 7th Avenue, and she said the problem is growing.
“We talked to the Borough Police and the Pa. Game Commission and neither wanted to deal with it,” Wrhen said. “The Game Commission told us to call pest control to have someone come in and trap them, but we don’t want to pay for it.”
“My husband set a box trap last night (Wednesday), but there wasn’t anything in it this morning (Thursday).”
Wrhen said she has seen the skunks twice in the last two weeks and smells them about four times a week. She said seeing them during the day concerns her because they don’t seem to be afraid of people.
“I’ve had them come within five feet of me,” Wrhen said. ”I had a neighbor who said she saw eight of them, but some of them were babies.”
(Video courtesy Meghan Whren)
Pa. Game Commission Wildlife Conservation Officer Steven Ace, who covers Clarion County, is all too familiar with the skunk problem.
“In town, there are a plethora of food sources available, there is cover, and there are very few predators, so the skunks have it good there,” Ace said. “Even the housing authority had an issue with them. Their building has no foundation, and they were getting underneath.”
“The feeding of animals in the borough is the main issue, but it’s almost impossible to control people putting food out. It would help immensely if they would stop or take steps that would discourage the skunks from staying in the area,” Ace said.
Ace’s recommendations include not leaving food out for stray cats, bringing bird feeders in at night or placing a tray underneath bird feeders to catch the stray feed that falls to the ground, treating yards for grubs, which skunks love to eat and properly storing garbage before it is picked up.
Ace also suggested making sure that porches are closed in underneath, so skunks can’t get in.
Scott Sharrar, the Code Enforcement Officer for Clarion Borough, lives in the affected area.
“I know it’s a problem because I’ve smelled them and seen them. The borough used to have a guy come in to trap the nuisance animals, but then he became too expensive, and they stopped using him,” Sharrar said. “The borough doesn’t have an ordinance on nuisance animals, just for dogs.”
Sharrar said the problem may stem from people leaving food out for stray cats.
“It’s still going on at 5th Avenue with people feeding the strays,” Sharrar said.
Borough Council President Carol Lapinto said when she was city manager more than a decade ago, the borough contracted with someone to take care of skunks. She also agreed there is a major problem with people leaving food out for stray cats, which attracts other animals.
“We’ve tried to get people to stop feeding the strays and leaving food out, but not everyone will,” Lapinto said.
Borough secretary Linda LeVan said contracting with someone to do nuisance trapping ended because the person that was hired wasn’t certified by the state to do the work.
“We now have a few in the area, and when people call, we give them the number to call,” LeVan said.
Lapinto said if the Pa. Game Commission permitted the borough to hire someone to do nuisance trapping, they’d do it.
Ace said if the borough wants to contract with a licensed pest control agent, they are free to do so.
“It will be costly, but it is an option,” Ace said.
“Homeowners are also free to set traps on their properties to catch the animals and then relocate them away from town,” Ace said.
Most experts say the best way to deal with a skunk in a live/box trap is to throw an old blanket or sheet over the trap and then remove it, preferably in an open-bed pickup truck.
“I deal with the same issues everybody else does, in terms of raccoons, skunks, or bears,” Ace said. “I rinse out my meat packages and cans before I put them in the garbage. It takes 30 seconds. It greatly eliminates the odors that attract the animals, and I don’t have problems.”
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