The “palatial” Foster estate that we call home is visited frequently by “critters”.
Since we no longer have dogs to mark the territory with their “stuff”, other wild animals take that as a sign that it’s okay to come a-calling.
A couple of summers ago, we hired a local “critter catcher” to capture a possum we had seen around the backyard deck.
He baited a couple of “catch and release” traps and his efforts netted a couple of possums and a raccoon.
We even snagged an overly-curious robin.
But, after paying a healthy sum for the live capture and release of these animals by the pros, the ever-frugal Fosters felt we could do it cheaper.We decided to deal with critters on an “as needed” basis by buying our own “catch and release” cage trap.
I’ve gotten pretty good at snagging these interlopers.
Several possums have been relocated, along with a number of raccoons and I even had to deal with a feral cat that trespassed on our property.
In the back of my mind, though, I expected to eventually encounter a skunk on one of my trapping expeditions.
Recently, that day arrived.
I had seen telltale signs of a creature digging around the yard and suspected a black and white aromatic skunk as the culprit.
Early one morning on my way to the station, I saw such a creature in the neighbor’s yard and figured this was the same dude doing damage to my lawn.
If you go on-line to see what specific critters like to dine on, I found skunks in the wild normally eat beetles, grubs, worms, grasshoppers, mushrooms, fruits and berries.
I selected to the cheapest canned cat food I could buy.
I put a dab in the empty cat food can I’ve kept for just such occasions and added a few pepperoni slices from a leftover pizza to add to the aromatic charm of my luring meal.
(Skunks, what they lack in eyesight, they more than compensate for with a keen sense of smell).
The trap was set in an area of fresh diggings and we retired for the night.
The next morning, a member of the Mephitidae family of mammals was entrapped and in need of release.
Not excited about the prospect of a skunkly-spraying, I did a little on-line research and found that wise “skunkers” slowly approach a trapped animal and carefully place a dark blanket or tarp over the cage.
The key is not to agitate the little guy because that’s when they’re more apt to leave you a smelly calling card.
That’s why I also donned old clothing that I wouldn’t be adverse to tossing if this adventure turned acrid.
Slowly and calmly I covered the cage and placed it, gently in the back of my truck and headed for my rural release-zone.
Now, my studies also suggested talking in a low, soft manner while releasing “he-she-it” animal back to the wild.
I decided to pass on becoming a “skunk-whisperer”.
The front of the cage was opened and yet my little prisoner was reluctant to leave.
(Remember, the eyesight is lacking in these animals).
But eventually, “he-she-it” slowly waddled out of the cage and went in search of new housing in this decidedly more rural location.
I chose this spot because it’s on the opposite side of the interstate from where we live.
I figure, if they’re gonna come back to my house, they’ll need to dodge high-speed traffic.
I reset the trap just in case there was a “surfeit” of skunks in the neighborhood but, thus far, follow-up baitings have not produced any more little stinkers.
Prior to this encounter, the only other skunks I was aware of was Pepe le Pew, the amorous “French skunk” from the Bugs Bunny era.
(Did you know that the object of Pepe’s affections was a cat called Penelope?)
Penelope Pussycat to be precise.
Then, there was also “Flower”, the cute little skunk Bambi found sleeping in the flowers.
Those cartoon images make these mammals seem kinda cute.
However, in the wild, skunks can be feisty.
Did you know they’re immune to snake venom and some even kill and eat rattlesnakes?
They’re also primary carriers of rabies.
There’s a perplexing dilemma for you.
Would you rather have poisonous snakes in the yard or a rabid skunk?
Now, some wise guy asked my if what I caught and released was a boy or a girl skunk.
Honestly, I didn’t was to get that close to the business end of my scent-spraying friend to determine the gender.
It wasn’t wearing pink or blue, either.
I guess that means I’m skunked!