Monday, September 21, 2015

The Skunk Family

A post on another blog I read about skunks reminded me a situation I had with a family of them years ago. My parents were off on one of their epic bicycle rides across the country and I was at home for the summer planting crops and taking care of them and the livestock. One day I needed a piece of wood for some project and went to an outbuilding we refer to as the lumber yard where we store all our salvaged lumber and various buckets of nails, screws and other building materials. I opened the door and saw a mama skunk and about eight baby skunks looking at me in a surprised fashion. I swear I jumped about ten feet backwards and out of direct line of sight being the door.

How do you relocate a family of skunks? They had to go because I wasn't about to be sprayed every time I needed to get a nail or a board for something. I couldn't think of a good solution so I went back to the house for the 22 rifle and slowly edged my way towards the door to the lumberyard. When I got to where I could see and yet was hopefully out of range of mama skunk, I could see the baby skunks still but mama was no longer around. I walked around the building and found a hole she had been using for an entrance so I fixed that problem first so there wouldn't be any surprises and then pondered awhile about what to do with her offspring.

Shooting the baby skunks crossed my mind but they are small and 22 bullets would probably go through them and keep going. I didn't want bullet holes in the building and it was full of potential ricochet potentials so I knew that was out. I thought about suiting up in our protective hog choring suits with a welding mask to protect my face but the suit was still made of cloth and likely to not stop a direct blast from a skunk. At what age do skunks spray? I didn't want to guess incorrectly on that answer.

My final solution was to take a 12 feet long of a piece of lumber off to the side where I could grab it away from the skunks. I lashed a plastic toy shovel that kids use at beaches to the end of the piece of lumber and carefully scooped the babies up one at a time. I'm not sure if they were spraying or I was squeezing scent out of them with my less than gentle handling of them but by the time I got them all into a five gallon bucket, the odor was pretty toxic inside the lumberyard. I carried them in the bucket at the end of a 12 feet long piece of lumber as far from the house as I was physically able which was about an eighth mile or so and dumped them in the weeds.

For several days I kept tabs on the lumberyard to see if they ever came back and occasionally I would walk by the spot where I had dumped the skunk children but I never saw any of them again. Not sure what ever became of them but I'm not really sure I care either.


Tewshooz said...

Those babies probably starved to death or died some other way. Better to have killed them outright.

Ed said...

Tewshooz - Perhaps, but this way they had a chance.

Kelly said...

What a dilemma! I've gotten soft-hearted in my old age and might possibly have done what you did, but I can certainly see Teshooz's point. Down here, skunks are notorious for carrying rabies, so I prefer not having them around. In fact, trappers are encouraged to always wear gloves when dealing with them.

Vince said...

I don't know what there are like but for the gland at their anus. Are they endangered in any way, if so I'd be agin they killing of them. Mind you, I've changed quite a bit on things as I've gotten older. I regularly bought Guns and Ammo when I was growing up, but then I was also quite rightwing, mindlessly so, back then too. So I doubt it counts.
We had quite a major problem with grey squirrels and mink, but since the reintroduction of native raptors exterminated 100 or more years ago, this has been brought under a degree of control.

Ed said...

Kelly - I've always been soft-hearted when it comes to wildlife. I have killed animals but I don't really enjoy it and do it only when necessary or for food. However my soft-heartedness doesn't extend to spiders. They are dead when in sight and when in range.

Vince - Skunks are fairly common in my neck of the woods and aren't endangered. I've got a couple more skunk stories to blog about to illustrate this point. I used to hunt some when I was younger but never really enjoyed the act though I do enjoy the food the animals provide. These days, I just have other hunters who enjoy the act shoot the animal for me and I pay for the processing costs.