Smelly pests cause big problems in Kentuckiana neighborhood

By Caton Bredar - bio  | email

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Residents in one Bullitt County neighborhood may have more than a lingering odor to contend with, after skunks started showing up on their doorsteps. WAVE 3's Caton Bredar talked to Mount Washington, KY animal control officials and neighbors, to sniff out the cause of the problem.

Bob Marion says he frequently sees skunks in his yard on Edwards Court.

"As many as a dozen of them one night, out on the lawn," he says as he displays an assortment of digital photos of skunks outside his apartment and under his car. Most of the photos are darkly lit, he explains, as the skunks generally come out after dark.

"You could be here around 8, 8:30 at night and that's when they start coming out," offers Richard Hamilton, an Animal Control Officer for Mount Washington for over a decade. "They're keeping me busy."

Hamilton's supervisor, Utilities Superintendent Ronnie Fick, says it's not unusual to see skunks in the summer and early fall.

"...just this time of year, the young ones are trying to get out, and they're trying to travel and that's why you're seeing a lot more of them," said Fick.

Still, he concedes there may be more complaints than usual, something residents confirm, although so far, there haven't been any serious consequences.

"They will spray, but you have to really scare them," Fick says. "Most of the time, they're going to try and avoid you if they can."

It hasn't seemed that way to Kristi Pritchard, who asked Animal Control to set up a trap outside her home, just across from Marion. While Pritchard says they have seen skunks in their area for the past two years, the sightings have escalated.

"They've gotten a little worse since the construction started," Pritchard says, referring to the development of a near-by vacant lot that once offered skunks shelter and food. Once a cornfield with a smattering of trees, the development is adjacent to the East Bullitt High School football field. Beyond the high school, there's an elementary school, and beyond the schools, houses. For the residents, the skunks exodus from the field to their homes is a little too close for comfort.

"It's definitely a little scary when you walk out the front porch and there's two skunks eating the cat food," Pritchard says.

Animal Control officers maintain the cat food is as much to blame for the problem as the development.

"Once they start getting food from a certain place," says Hamilton, "They'll go back there every night."

To try and combat the problem, Hamilton has set out humane traps baited with cat food or tuna fish. The trap next to Pritchard's home has already led to the capture and relocation of nearly a half dozen skunks. Still, it's an ongoing battle, which officials don't believe will end any time soon.

"It almost seems like they're used to us, as much as we're used to them," says Pritchard.

"Generally, they try to stay, just like us," says Fick. "In their habitat. They don't want to be around us any more than we want to be around them.