Skunks are in good supply in Santa Barbara and do occasionally get killed by cars. They dig up lawns and garden beds in search of grubs and insects (generally leaving small conical craters in their wake), and thus are considered a nuisance by some who worship perfect lawns. However they also control many of the pests that eat the roots of ornamental plants and grasses, so there is a payback that reduces or eliminates the need for pesticides. Further, skunks tend to like dark spaces for nests, and in so doing displace wood rats and other animals which of a greater nuisance value. They also love to eat bees, and currently one real worry in Santa Barbara is the establishment of Africanized Honey Bees, which can attack humans. These too love the same nooks and crannies that skunks favor. Having a resident skunk is good (not perfect) insurance against the establishment of bee nests in such spaces, which is why I happily encourage the mother skunk and her offspring who live under our front porch. The only drawback is that one wants to walk very carefully in these areas from dusk on!
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