STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colo. (CBS4) – A Colorado family has been living a nightmare after a colony of skunks infiltrated their home.

After five months trying to get rid of the animals, and more importantly the smell, there’s still a long way to go for the Greene family of Steamboat Springs.

Mae Greene says she’ll never forget Nov 29 at 4 a.m.

“We were sleeping and we woke up coughing and thinking it was a gas leak. It was awful,” Mae said.

A colony of skunks had found their way underneath the 100-year-old house’s flooring. Since it’s so old, the house has no foundation and was a perfect safe harbor for a labyrinth of tunnels.

The Greenes and their two children moved out while trappers came in. For weeks they caught a skunk daily — a total of 13.

“We kept hoping we’d be home for Christmas,” Mae said. “The smell would just not go away. Everyone kept saying, ‘Oh, it will go away, it will dissipate.’ And some days you’d come in and it was even stronger.”

A highly-trained exterminator from Denver came in early this year and decided they needed to rip up the floors to find out where the smell was still coming from.

“They just cut it and ripped it all out,” Harris Greene said.

“We would have never known how extensive the tunneling was,” Mae said. “Once we pulled them up to see that tunnel system and to see the poo everywhere, and the smell, and your eyes were watering.”

When the floors came up, two more dead skunks were found under the house.

“No one has ever heard of anything like this, and so it’s just been challenging for that reason,” Mae said.

The Greenes say their insurance company has waffled on helping them pay for an infestation that could cost up to six figures.

Neighbors say they got concerned when so many skunks were trapped in the early winter, but no one else has had a similar issue.

“It was really hard to believe, especially when they had to move out. We thought it would be a few weeks, but now it’s been a whole winter,” neighbor Devon Dalzell said.

“This happened in November. We’re close to April now and we’re still not sure when we are going to be able to come home,” Mae said.

The Greenes’ exterminator says the warm weather is to blame for bringing skunks out early this year along the Front Range.

Comments (8)
  1. ea stack says:

    so sad a story, but typical of insurance related nightmares

    since insurance co was and now is not covering claim must be insured by american scamley…excuse me…american family insurance. in my experience that is the way they do businesson a regular basis.

  2. ms says:

    The article doesn’t name the insurance company. They need to read their policy and then request arbitration so a neutral 3rd party can decide for them.

  3. Merry Ferry says:

    Why coulnt the skunks be relocated, and not killed?. Ok they smell, but so do a few folk I know

  4. Shannon says:

    Article didn’t say that they killed them. But in regards to smell, a direct spray inside the home is strong enough to make you think there is a pile of tires burning in your living room. It’s rancid and debilitating. I’ve had one skunk spray into my air system and just the one was enough to make my house, clothing, car in the garage, everything smell for two weeks. One experience with that and relocation isn’t exactly the first thought of what you’d like to do to that skunk. I cooled off and did the responsible thing in the end though (boarded up its “nesting” area and sprayed cayenne pepper around the house), but I don’t know what i would do with over a dozen of them.

  5. TeeTee says:

    They have to be killed because they can be viscious AND they tend to come back. They claimed that home as theirs – they weren’t going to go easily. Also, it’s a wild animal with potentially harmful diseases.

    We had a similar situation when I was a kid at camp – a family of skunks moved in under our cabin and it took a few days but eventually they were all trapped. The smell lasted for quite a while longer, tho.

  6. SkiMom says:

    We went through a nearly identical situation. We trapped out 8 skunks from under our cabin in 8 days, and 4 more over the next few weeks. Anyone who can say “sure they smell” has never been in this situation. It’s not like the whiff you get from road kill. This is a full-on, burn your lungs, make you wonder if you will ever breathe again wall of stink. The only way to get rid of the stench without removing walls, floors, and contaminated dirt is to spray/wash with a solution of a chemical called neutroleum-alpha. Best of luck to the Greenes – they have our sympathy!

  7. Joe says:

    I had a similar problem, but my ex-wife is still stinking up my house and refuses to leave.

  8. Funkyking says:

    Damn! Somebody beat me to the in-laws joke!!

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