Comment No. 1 on trapping and disposing of skunks: If anything can go wrong, it will go wrong. This is why live, trapped skunks should be transported in pickup trucks, rather than the trunk of your car.
Comment No. 2 on trapping and disposing of skunks: If the skunk sprays you, it’s not the end of the world, although it might be the end of your day as far as non-skunk-related activities go.
As might be deciphered here, a trapped skunk sprayed me last Saturday in Carbondale. It wasn’t a full skunking like idiot dogs often provoke, but it was bad enough for me to shuck all my clothes on the porch and dump them in a trash can filled with a mix of water, hydrogen peroxide, Dawn dish soap and baking soda.
A momma skunk and her kids had been sleeping under my shed during the day and patrolling Carbondale at night all summer. Someone said mothballs repel skunks, so I rolled several handfuls under there in July, but they had little noticeable effect. Hand grenades would have proven more effective, but where’s a guy to buy hand grenades these days?
After much procrastination following the mothball disappointment, the only alternative was to borrow a wire cage skunk trap from the Carbondale police department. Here’s comment No. 3: There are apparently two sizes of skunk traps, the right size and the wrong size. More on that later.
The first skunk trapping operation went pretty smoothly. The theory with wire skunk traps is they are only about six inches tall, which prevents the skunk from raising its tail, so it can’t spray. The cage performed as advertised for skunk No. 1.
I cautiously grabbed the cage’s wire handle, picked it up, loaded it into the back of a friend’s truck, took him (the skunk) to a secluded spot, and shot him twice with a .22 caliber revolver. This violent act was unpleasant, unsettling and smelly, but experts say you’re not supposed to just let them go.
Skunk No. 1 was actually an experimental skunk. I hoped to refine the skunk extraction part of the trapping, and let the other ones go.
Skunk No. 2 took the bait a few days later, and quickly gained the upper hand, or upper tail if you will.
This skunk must have been momma skunk’s kid, because he was small enough to raise his tail and spray a little bit. It wasn’t a full-mast tail raising, but enough to spray when I gingerly picked up the cage. The skunk’s tail was pointing south and I was to the south, but enough of the misty spray drifted over to land on me.
Because skunk No. 2 was free to fire at will, my next door neighbor, Jennifer, and I threw a yellow blanket over the cage. The idea was that a skunk might not try to spray what it can’t see, and the blanket might take the brunt of the critters wrath if it did spray.
A note here on Jennifer: Her involvement came because she’s very nice and was also throwing a dinner party for 10 of her friends later that night. Her windows are about 20 feet from Skunk City.
After throwing the blanket on the cage, a problem fraught with hand wringing and despair immediately became apparent. The hole we’d cut in the blanket for the handle positioned itself half way down the side of the cage. The skunk could look through the hole and keep his beady little eyes on us, then spin his tail around if need be. Over the next half hour, the skunk sprayed like there was no tomorrow, which for him proved to be the case.
After it looked like the caged skunk was to become a permanent backyard fixture, Jennifer had a great idea – she got an old ski pole and handed it to me. After much poking at the blanket, I was able to get the pole under the handle, then go off and think about things for 15 minutes. Comment No. 4: When dealing with skunks, go slowly and treat them like a mine field.
After 15 minutes, no brilliant ideas materialized. So, I just held my breath, struggled to lift the ski pole with both hands, got the cage off the ground, walked quickly to the pickup 15 feet away, and flung the cage into the bed. The shakey ride must have put the skunk off balance, because he failed to spray. When the skunk regained his composure, however, he commenced randomly spraying again. At this point, I moved the truck away from my neighbor’s house and out into the street. After a few more minutes, we were off to do what had to be done.
Comment No. 5: A good movie to watch after killing a skunk is “The Road to Perdition.” A one-sentence review of this movie is, “The most violent father/son bonding film ever made, but still pretty good.”
Comment No. 6: Carbondale should budget for a professional skunk trapper next summer. We’re all getting too old for this.
Lynn Burton is a reporter for the Glenwood Springs Post Independent.
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