Is there a skunk in my crawlspace?
I live in a forested area of the Coast Range. A skunk odor appeared in my home about 2 weeks ago, especially noticeable in spaces with little air circulation, such as closets. I also smell it in the crawlspace under the house. The odor is annoying but not as terrible as would be near a recent roadkill, but neither is it going away. I see no obvious evidence of a skunk living in my crawlspace. I baited a live trap with marshmallows which disappeared overnight, but a wildlife camera revealed that it was a mouse that got the goodies, no sign of the skunk. What are the chances that this was just a "drive by skunking" vs a live-in critter? How long will it take for the odor to dissipate? I don't want to pay a professional varmint remover if there is no varmint. Any advice appreciated!
Take steps now to be sure you don't have skunks setting up house under your house. A mother skunk with young becomes even more of an issue.
Read through these publications about living with nuisance wildlife. Oregon Extension publication EC 1579 https://catalog.extension.oregonstate.edu/sites/catalog/files/project/pdf/ec1579_0.pdf
California Extension's Pest Notes has good information as well: http://ipm.ucanr.edu/PMG/PESTNOTES/pn74118.html
This quote from the "detection" part of the California page seems appropriate to you this time of year "During the breeding season, males frequently spray when fighting over females. The presence of these odors in late winter is a signal that skunks might be nearby and that it could be necessary to take appropriate measures to prevent pregnant females from accessing potential nesting sites underneath buildings and other structures."
In the "exclusion" section, it says in part "Once skunks have made their home beneath a building, the problem is a little more difficult because you have to be sure the animals have left before blocking the opening. One way to determine this is to sprinkle a smooth, 1/8-inch thick layer of flour just in front of the point of entrance to form a tracking patch. Examine the tracking patch soon after dark; the presence of footprints will indicate that the animal has left and the opening can be closed."
Please ask follow-up questions if you have any.