My neighbor Andy photographed these Striped Skunk young last week in our neighborhood. They need to be careful because great horned owls love to eat them and we can hear the owls calling at night (we also once saw one in our backyard!). We all know that skunks can emit a terrible smell. They try not to though since they need it to defend themselves and it takes a while for them to make more.
According to An Uncommon Field Guide to Northwest Backyards by Patricia K. Lichen, skunks can actually spray in any direction. So just because you are not behind them does not mean that you are safe!
Skunks eat all kinds of things (including garbage), so it is no wonder that they do so well around humans.