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It's a real stinker

EAGLE POINT — A skunk that turned the crawl space of a Seventh-day Adventist Church into his personal dating message board did more than violate the nostrils of the next day's worshippers.

"Let's say he sprayed quite vigorously," church elder Norm Allred says. "The sanctuary, the vestibule. It was terrible."

Church members are turning to a simple exercise to exorcise the little devil once and for all.

A combination of metal mesh, bad rock music, floodlights and flour is just the ticket for evicting this and other skunks from beneath patios and in foundation crawl spaces now, during the start of mating season.

And just as importantly, Rosemary Stussy's de-skunking recipe seeks to keep them out before one big stinker is joined by a passel of little ones.

"You have to make sure your house is sealed or you'll be in a constant battle with critters trying to live there," says Stussy, wildlife damage biologist at the ODFW's office in Central Point.

Plus, no animals have to die in the making of Stussy's assembly.

"Skunks are out spraying, looking for mates, and it's no fun for anyone," Stussy says. "More and more, people want solutions and they want solutions that are nonlethal."

First, make sure all but one of the vents to your house's foundation are covered and secured but still allow air passage.

In front of the one unsealed vent, place a heavy dusting of flour at the base.

Next, place a floodlight in the crawl space and blare some Britney Spears just loud enough that the neighbors don't call the cops.

"Make it annoying, obnoxious, can't-sleep-while-it's-on music," Stussy says. "Those things are all uncomfortable. They tell him, hey, you're not safe here."

Chances are, the skunk or skunks will hightail it out that one unblocked vent, leaving their tell-tale tracks in the flour as proof they're gone.

Wire up that final hole and you've just bid adieu to Pepe Le Pew.

Stussy doesn't have to tell Don Healy twice.

Building a home in Jacksonville, the Healys moved into a rental house six weeks ago. Noticing the foundation vents unprotected, they persuaded their landlord to bring in an inspector.

Nine trapped rats later, the vents are sealed.

"It gave me the willies because we live on top of them," Healy says. "I'm making darn sure I don't have a problem in the next place we're at ... I don't want any critters making a home under there."

But the amorous skunks notorious in Jacksonville each spring are regular visitors to their yard, rearing up on their front legs and blasting the family dogs about once a month.

"If we leave our dogs out after 10 (p.m.), it's almost a guaranteed spray," Healy says. "It's expensive to take them to the groomer every month."

Skunks walk a fine legal line in Oregon. Listed as unprotected animals, they can be killed whenever encountered, though firearms cannot be used inside city limits here.

Trapping is legal, but trapped skunks cannot be released off your property because of fears of spreading distemper, Stussy says.

Simply transporting a live skunk off your property requires a permit from Stussy.

Healy has a skunk trap in his yard. If he catches one, he intends to take it into the woods outside of town and kill it.

"The problem is, I can't trap a skunk to save my life," he says.

At the Seventh-day Adventist Church, the offending skunk has been forgiven but he won't get a chance to push his luck.

Allred has asked church members to move forward with Stussy's flour-laden eviction plan, sans the bad music.

They have the wire ready to close the crawl-space hole. All they need is someone to spend a cold night behind a tree watching for the skunk to leave — if he's still there.

"We certainly have learned our lesson with this one," Allred says. "But we still have our work cut out for us."

Reach reporter Mark Freeman at 776-4470, or e-mail mfreeman@mailtribune.com.

A skunk boldly crosses a residential road in Jacksonville. Skunks begin spraying this time of year to attract a mate, something many Jacksonville dogs and a congregation in Eagle Point learned the hard way. - Bob Pennell