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HUNTINGTON BEACH : Trapping Approved to Control Skunks

The city, county and community have agreed to a plan of attack to rid a neighborhood near Central Park of skunks, city officials said this week.

The plan includes a mass trapping effort and a public education program, Mayor Linda Moulton Patterson said.

Moulton Patterson said city officials met Wednesday with Supervisor Harriett M. Wieder, county Animal Control officials, city staff members and representatives of the neighborhood. As a result, the City Council will consider hiring a private trapper at its Aug. 15 meeting.

“It’s a very serious problem,” Moulton Patterson said.

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Skunks have overrun the Franciscan Fountains neighborhood, southwest of Golden West Street and Slater Avenue. Residents made their pleas to the council this week to do something about the “smelly” problem.

Wieder said county Animal Control will assist by educating residents on how they can discourage skunk invasions of their properties.

Ron Hagan, community services director, said the council will consider spending up to $3,000 to trap and relocate the animals to the wilderness. He said trappers charge $25 a skunk.

Hagan said between 200 to 500 skunks live near the neighborhood and the park.

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Hagan said the growing skunk problem is due to nearby development, recent library construction and grading at Central Park, which is causing the animals to search for new homes and food.

He said of the 300 acres of wildlife area at the park, the habitat can support a population of only 30 to 60 skunks. The animals are also making their homes in nearby flood channels.

Residents said that the skunks are spraying people and their pets and are falling into swimming pools and drowning.

Chuck Barbara told the council that he and his wife were confronted recently by three skunks in their back yard.

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“We became prisoners in our own home,” he said.

For $330, Barbara hired a trapper who caught nine skunks on his property. He also has spent about $200 to place a screen eight inches below the bottom of his fence to keep the skunks out.

Barbara said skunks are a problem in other areas of the city as well, but his neighborhood is experiencing an increasing infestation.

“It’s not a simple problem; it’s an epidemic,” Barbara said. “Skunks are procreating like mad.”

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Barbara, who met with city and county officials Wednesday, said he’s in favor of trapping the skunks.

“We don’t want to kill skunks; they’re cute little animals,” he said. “We just want them relocated. We don’t want them in our back yards.”

Moulton Patterson said residents should take these steps to discourage skunks:

* Do not leave pet food outside.

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* Cover trash containers.

* Don’t leave plastic trash bags outside.

* Remove garbage, debris and lumber piles outside.

* Clear dense vegetation on property.

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* Eliminate access points, such as fencing, decks and house foundations, by sealing them.


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