Is It Legal to Kill Skunks?

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A crazy quilt of state, provincial, and local laws across North America make it usually legal to kill skunks. In fact, in some surprising jurisdictions it is even required. Here is a sampling of laws and regulations in North America for controlling skunks.

Alabama prohibits private individuals from keeping live skunks that were not obtained from a licensed breeder (and there are no breeders with licenses from the State of Alabama) or that were born outside the state. Killing skunks is essentially required, but poisons and fumigants are illegal and it is unlawful to discharge a firearm within 50 yards of a road.

Alaska encourages trapping and release of skunks, since there is no shortage of habitat. Permits are not required for killing or releasing skunks, although the most up to date information will be available from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

Arizona encourages trapping and relocation of skunks, but it is necessary to obtain a permit from the Arizona Game and Fish Department before releasing a skunk. Since skunks are classified as predator animals, they can also be killed. Poisoning skunks is always unlawful and shooting skunks is illegal within city limits.

California classifies skunks as non-game animals that can be hunted and killed. However, much of the Sierra Mountains are off limits for night hunting, and it is illegal to use skunk bait or poisons. Licensed firearms may be used to kill skunks where discharge of firearms is otherwise permitted.

Colorado does not permit snap traps for skunks. A Havahart cage trap or a cylindrical trap is required—but it is not then lawful to relocate the skunk. The skunk must be destroyed on site or released unharmed.

Connecticut allows killing of skunks with a permit that must be acquired before the skunk is killed. There is a limited season for killing skunks, usually after kits have been weaned and leave the den.

Indiana permits killing of skunks with a hunting permit between October 15 and March 15 of each year.

Kentucky permits killing of skunks (if all safety laws are observed) but regulates transportation of live skunks across county lines.

Maine permits killing of skunks between October 17 and December 21 each year provided a hunting license is obtained first.

Minnesota permits killing of skunks with air rifles.

New Hampshire permits killing of skunks between October and March, with a license obtained prior to the kill.

New York classifies skunks as fur-bearing animals and permits killing them during publicly announced fall and winter hunting dates for people who have a hunting license.

Tennessee permits killing of skunks but prohibits transportation of skunks into the state.

Texas permits killing of skunks year-round, but there are locations where discharge of a firearm for any reason (such as school campuses or churches) is a state jail felony.

Vermont permits hunting of skunks under the same regulations that apply to fur trappers. Since skunks are relatively rare in Vermont, a permit to kill them may not be automatically issued.

Washington state permits killing of skunks by any method except snap traps. Traps used to capture skunks must be the no-kill variety.

Wyoming classifies skunks as predator animals that can be killed at any time, as long as general hunting regulations are observed (no discharge of firearms in city limits, no use of vehicle headlights, etc.).

In the capital of the United States, Washington, D.C., it is always unlawful to kill a “non-comensal” animal, that is, an animal that does not depend on humans for its survival. District of Columbia law requires that nuisance animals be trapped and released 25 miles (40 km) away, in Virginia or Maryland. Neither Virginia nor Maryland, however, permits importation of skunks from Washington, D.C., so D.C. homeowners may only use exclusion methods.

Most Canadian provinces have different rules about killing skunks in different parts of the province that may change from year to year. Contact your provincial natural resources department for information. In general, Canadian laws discourage removal of skunks from your property to crown land or rural areas.

Where skunks do not grow marketable winter pelts, they are usually classified as predators that can be killed any time of year by anyone. Where skunks grow furs of commercial value during long, cold winters, they usually are classified as fur-bearing animals that can be “harvested” only during certain times of year with a permit. Poisoning, fumigating, and flame throwers are always prohibited. Firearms are often prohibited. To avoid serious problems with the law, always check current laws with your local fish and wildlife or natural resource conservation offices before you kill a skunk. In addition, read this article on getting rid of skunks.

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