Last year, we moved to a rural part of Arizona, and began composting our waste, like most homesteaders do. Initially, we were concerned that our compost might attract rats, raccoons, javelinas, and insects; however, none of those have been a problem for us. What has been an unexpected problem is skunks.
It’s not the compost itself that attracts skunks, it’s the grubs that develop and live inside of the compost. Skunks love to eat those things, and they’ll go to great lengths to get them.
For a couple weeks, we had a skunk coming in to our yard every night, and tearing up our land to get at our compost heap. The compost itself is surrounded by a fence of pallets and sheet metal, so the skunk was essentially digging a tunnel to get at the heap from below, and was succeeding.
We tried putting large boulders and barbed wire around the area. Didn’t work. We tried spraying pepper spray all over the compost and surrounding area, hoping the scent would deter it. Didn’t work. We tried scaring it away. We yelled at, threw rocks at it, even sent our dog after it – poor thing got sprayed, and the skunk still came back the next night.
We considered trapping it, but that seemed like a bandaid solution. We know it’s our compost that’s attracting the skunk, so even if we trap one, and take it 20 miles from here, the compost is just going to attract another one in the future.
Finally, we found a permanent solution that actually works: lights.
Yep, that’s all it takes. Just a couple of bright lights. Skunks are nocturnal, and they absolutely detest bright light. We have a bunch of solar powered spot lights around our yard that automatically turn on at night. One day we decided to point a couple of them right where the skunk likes to dig. That night, no skunk.
Day after day, we’d check the area for any sign of a skunk, and sure enough, there wasn’t. The skunk had finally given up, and moved on to somewhere else. Since then, we’ve increased the amount of lights in our yard, and we haven’t had any problems with skunks. In fact, we don’t seem to have many animals come in to our yard at all anymore.
So, the lesson learned is: if you have a skunk problem, don’t waste your time on other methods, just get some bright lights. Again, the lights we got are solar powered and have a light sensor, so it’s truly a set-it-and-forget-it solution. The lights aren’t even expensive. You can get a pair online for about 20 bucks. Click here to check the price on Amazon.