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The skunk (Mephitis mephitis and Spilogale putorius), a member of the weasel family, is represented by four species in North America. The skunk has short, stocky legs and proportionately large feet equipped with well-developed claws that enable it to be very adept at digging. The striped skunk is common throughout the United States and Canada. Adult skunks begin breeding in late February. Skunks inhabit clearings, pastures, and open lands bordering forests. Skunks eat plant and animal foods in about equal amounts during fall and winter. Skunks become a nuisance when their burrowing and feeding habits conflict with humans. Striped skunks are not protected by law in most states, but the spotted skunk is fully protected in some.