In addition to odiferous and nocturnal, who knew skunks were romantic?

Yet skunk mating season “starts on Valentine’s Day,” according to Scott Purr, owner of the local Critter Control franchise. “Skunks are the first out in February. Then their young come out in July, and then they’re out a lot again in September to get ready for semi-hibernation in the winter.”

Skunks have been feeling especially amorous lately. “When I first started doing this here in 2005 we did hardly any skunks,” Purr remembers. “Now there are three or four times more skunks, and there are a couple of areas in town, particularly out there on the southwest side, that are skunk heaven!”

Last summer, Purr figures he and his four operatives removed 300 skunks from beneath decks and sheds and out of woodpiles and crawl spaces with live traps, using marshmallows for bait. “One den will hold four, five, six skunks, but we caught ten at one house in the southwest. It was phenomenal!”

It’s not company policy to kill the skunks they catch. “If they’re in good shape, we re-release them at least seven miles away,” says Purr. “If they’re sick, though, we do euthanize them. When you get more skunks, you get more that are sick.”

But there are always more skunks. “They’re opportunists, and getting rid of the animals is just a temporary solution,” Purr says. “For a permanent solution, we’ll put in a barrier of half-inch by half-inch galvanized steel mesh. We dig down ten to twelve inches and go out six to eight inches, then put the mesh in a sort of L shape, so even when the animals dig down ten or twelve inches, they’ll still hit the barrier and stop.”

The good news, Purr says, is that skunk heaven won’t last forever. “It’s all cyclical. This is the peak of their [population] cycle, and they’ll go down from here.”