When I drove past the first skunk laying dead on the side of the road on my way to work, I hardly noticed. By the time I passed the fourth, I was on high alert. Was I imagining things, or was our local skunk population dying in higher numbers?

As it turns out, the skunk purge is unfortunately very real (and also very predicable). Our favorite striped mammals (sorry, zebras) are out in higher numbers this month than they will be all year, and it all has to do with their biological clock.

You're not imagining things: there have been even more dead skunks on the road this month in the Hudson Valley, NY
You're not imagining things: there have been even more dead skunks on the road this month in the Hudson Valley, NY (Google/Canva)
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Skunk Populations in New York

Skunks may be one of the most misunderstood animals in New York. While their name is synonymous with their impressive spray, they only release their stink when threatened (dogs are especially famous for provoking them). This month, however, they have been out in force.

There's a very special reason why New Yorkers are seeing more skunks this month, and it all has to do with this tiny baby
There's a very special reason why New Yorkers are seeing more skunks this month, and it all has to do with this tiny baby (KenCanning via Canva)
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Why There Are So Many More Dead Skunks in New York this Month

The reason for the sudden uptick in skunk sightings is all because their mating season is underway. From the beginning of February to the end of March, not only are skunks actively searching for a partner in local forests and yards, but on local roads as well, which is leading to the sharp increase in skunk roadkill. Here's what you can do to stay safe (and stink-free).

Read More: Mind-Blowing Video of the Spotted Skunk Doing a Handstand 

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) recommends keeping a close eye on household pets to avoid unwanted skunk interactions. While cats seem to easily coexist with skunks, feeding outdoor cats at night can attract skunks to eat alongside them. Free-roaming dogs are also more likely to incite a skunk spray incident. Drivers should also be on high alert for skunks attempting to cross public roads, especially at night.

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Wildlife is just one of the many reasons that the Hudson Valley is such a special place to live. Check out the adorable Orange County, NY beaver family below, and keep scrolling to see one of the wildest hunting lodges to ever have been built in the state.

Frolicking Beaver Family Swims in the Hudson Valley

Mom, dad, and two adorable baby beavers took some family time out on a Orange County, NY lake

Gallery Credit: Jonah

How Many Dead Animals Can You Spot in this Hudson Valley Mansion?

Let's play the morbid version of I Spy... how many carcasses can you find in this home?

Gallery Credit: Jonah