Our Friend the Skunk Whisperer
Methow At Home members Kurt and Susan Snover knew something wasn’t right one morning last fall when they woke up to find a skunk in their marmot trap. “What’s a skunk doing in our marmot trap?” asked Kurt.
Such a beautiful animal, you wouldn’t guess its bad reputation if you didn’t already know it. But we knew it, and really didn’t want to mess with it. Especially after hearing our friend Wayne’s story about his dog that got inside his house after tangling with a skunk. It wasn’t the poor skunk’s fault that it had ended up in our trap. But our fear of getting sprayed paralyzed us into inaction. So there in the trap the skunk sat, day after day, into the second week, seemingly unfazed by the experience.
We called Fish and Game, hoping they’d come out and take care of it for us. No way. The guy said he had the name of a fellow in Brewster who would drive up and take care of it. Imagining me to be the guy in Brewster and trying to think what I would charge some poor sucker in Winthrop to remove a skunk, I decided I probably couldn’t afford it. Otherwise, the guy said, we could shoot it. But you’d have to shoot it in the heart otherwise it would spray. Two really great options! Not!! So the skunk sat in the trap while we continued to dither.
How did the skunk end up in our trap to begin with? It must have dug a hole under our deer fence, come in the yard and gone into the trap, even though there was no bait in it. And why had I left the trap door open and set?? No good reason. The result - a skunk in the trap - is a good example of the Law of Unintended Consequences. This Law can bite you in many ways. But I digress.
Meanwhile, time was wearing on, and we were feeling badly about the skunk’s prospects, when we heard about our friend Michelle’s interest. Valley gossip spreads like wildfire (I know, I know, a terrible analogy) and it turns out she knew all about our problem. So we called her up and she said ‘Sure, no problem, I’ll come right over in my truck with a tarp and take care of it for you.’
Well, we didn’t want any chance of the skunk spraying us or our good friend. She told us she’d come in 30 minutes, and in the meantime we should watch a video on how to deal with the problem. I thought it might be one of those famous youtube videos in which the perp says “watch this”, just before he removes himself from the gene pool.
But no, it wasn’t that at all. Just a serious low-key video success story. Followed by more videos, all successful. I got suspicious, wondering if the unsuccessful ones had been removed from youtube, thereby foiling my attempt to assess the likelihood of no-spray success. Or could it really be that easy??
In the meantime Michelle arrived with tarp in hand, and scouted out the situation before I even got my pants on. Bing bing bing, she’s put the tarp over the trap and carried skunk and trap to her truck where she tied the tarp-covered trap + skunk on the tailgate of the truck. To say Michelle’s a doer is a huge understatement.
After debating which of our dear friends might like to entertain a skunk up close, we drove way out the Andrews Creek Rd, past the last houses and the campgrounds, to an isolated spot where we let him go
As the skunk raced away down the hill through the woods, I felt a great sense of relief. The skunk was once again free, and hopefully not too much the worse for wear. And somehow, with a lot of help, we managed to do the right thing.
What does all this have to do with Methow at Home? Well, the 3 of us are members and volunteers, and what is MAH but members helping members, friends helping friends, and the wonderful pleasures of it all? Plus, you never know all the amazing talents that others may possess. Who would have thought that we have a bona fide Skunk Whisperer in our midst?
Note added in proof. About this same time our neighbor Richard, who had his own troublesome skunk, purchased a no-spray skunk trap. That’s a trap with such a low ceiling that a skunk inside the trap can’t stand fully upright, which keeps it from spraying. I’m thinking, ‘what a smart guy.’ Richard traps his skunk and hauls it off to the boonies. He takes the trap out of his truck and sets it down outside. As he opens the door and the skunk leaves the trap, its tail gets caught in the door and it sprays.
Kurt Snover, October 2019