Skunks on the move, looking for love

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Wichita, Kan. -- It's hard to miss that noxious odor.. the unmistakable smell of a skunk.

Kansans are seeing and smelling skunks more right now because it's their mating season which has them on the move.

Marc Murrell with Kansas Wildlife, Parks & Tourism says, "Yea, we see it every year. Basically it's the equivalent of the deer rut accept for the skunks. This is the breeding season for skunks, the end of February and first part of March. In a nutshell they're out looking for love. So they're on the move and as a result they get hit on the highways much more now than any other time of the year."

And when skunks get hit, their scent sac often gets ruptured, releasing a terrible odor into the air.

"And that's their defense mechanism." says Murrell. "They can spray this stuff maybe eight to ten feet and it's potentially blinding. At least temporarily. It's irritating. Obviously it smells."

Murrell says skunks generally use that spray to defend against predators like bobcats, owls and coyotes.

The smell is one reason you don't want to get around a skunk but rabies is another.

Murrell says, "Skunks are one of our main carriers of rabies. So if you see animals out during the day that are normally nocturnal, like skunks, if you see them acting anything but normal, just leave them alone."

He says skunks are common even in urban areas including the heart of Wichita. He advises pet owners not to leave dog food out because wild animals like skunks are attracted to the food.


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