Many years ago I started a thread about a skunk visiting my tack room. I got the same advice, shoot, trap etc. One person said don't leave out cat food. That seemed like the easiest choice so that is what I did. When I went to do chores the food came out, when I left barn, leftover food was put away. The barn cats learned very quickly to eat while I was there. Never saw another skunk inside the barn.
Skunks don't normally spray unless they feel really threatened. I feed the barn cats and for 2 yrs have had a family of 4 skunks come eat with the cats. They run to the plates as I put them down. They recognize my car and have run after it when I am adriving down the drieveway. The come when I call the cats.
I've stepped over them while feeding, and they don't spray. One got into the tackroom, and I tried to figure out how to get it to leave. When I yelled at it, it recognized my voice, and just laid down. So I sprayed him with Fly spray, which he apparently thought smelled bad, so he left.
We don't have a problem with rabies in skunks here, so it isn't a worry. In the 7 yrs I've been at the barn, we've never had a person, cat, tack room, horse, or hay sprayed by a skunk. One boarders dog got sprayed when her dog was loose and unsupervised and tried to chase one. To me, her dog deserved it. She shouldn't be letting her dog run loose unsupervised on someone elses property.
I went back 11 yrs, and saw that here in El Paso, we haven't had any skunks test positive for rabies. (That's in the previous 11 yrs, I checked). Yet even vets here are uninformed, and tell people that 90% of the skunks here have rabies. One told a boarder at my barn that, and freaked them out, even though our skunks weren't causing any problems.
If you don't leave food out for skunks, they will usually move on. Wait until eve, and block off access to areas that they might move into. If you've checked your state's health website, and find they aren't a major vector in your area, they can coexist quite easily with people, and actually benefit the environment. Dogs can be trained not to chase them, or leash your dog from dusk to dark, and early dawn hrs.
I really dont see why they are projected in such a bad light. I feel our resident skunk of 2 years actually might have saved my life. I picked zuchinis every day, blissfully unaware of the ground bee hive in the patch. The ground bees here are aggressive and swarm. Most victims get multiple stings, I am allergic. Not a cool scenario. Well one night he helped himself to a fine dinner of ground bees. Didnt even disturb the plants. Next year he ate the ground bees right under my clothes line. So thats twice I owe him ,big time.! Believe me he can stay, he gaurds my life.
That being said as far as round worms, stray dogs, stray cats, or even guests dogs that are brought to the barn spread them just as well , if not more, than wildlife. Only a thought because wild life doesn't eliminate right next to or in the barn, but usually out in the wild.
As far as rabies, they ALL dont have rabies or they would all be dead. I vaccinate everyone for rabies, cats, dogs, horses, so I feel relatively safe there. I live in the country, I expect to encounter these animals, as I have moved into their habitat. I suspect the horses encounter these animals out in the pasture.
And yes my dogs are trained not to chase them, or the cats.