Barbara Duncan's recent post, reminded me of our experience (many years ago) with a neighbourhood skunk, I thought I'd relate.
Over a period of several months, we'd been smelling skunks in our area... the weather had been hot, we'd been sleeping with the windows open, and each evening, without fail, came the strong smell wafting through our 2nd floor bedroom windows... it was noxious.
So... we contacted a local pest control, who recommended calling the city of Evanston, who had a nuisance-pest-removal program... which was free. Sure enough Evanston said they'd send out a guy right away. The trapper said they would use a "friendly trap" (which traps the animal without harming them), and that we should check it daily, and once we had trapped a skunk, they would come out the following day and relocate him.
On the first night (Monday), we trapped a squirrel. The squirrel was clearly pissed-off, as he did laps around the cage, chattering all the time... we were afraid to even approach the trap, as we didn't want to upset him further. Evanston's animal control came out Tuesday, released the frenzied squirrel, and reset the trap.
On Wednesday night, we trapped another squirrel. The procedure was the same... Animal control released him on Thursday, and reset the trap. On Thursday night.... finally, success! When we looked at the trap on Friday morning, and there, sitting quietly was a lovely specimen of Pepe LePew. He (or she?) had two lovely white stripes down her back, and sat low in the cage, carefully ignoring us. We called the city right away, and they said "We'll be out on Monday to pick him up"... MONDAY??? "Oh, we don't pick up trapped animals on the weekend?"
But, But, But... it's 90 degrees out... the poor thing will die in the heat? "Sorry... we'll see you Monday". Okay, we can't allow the animal to suffer, can we... he's so cute... (can we keep him, ask my little girls???) almost looks cuddley... he'd make a cute pet (if he didn't stink to high-heaven). Okay... I went online and did some quick research, which showed me that a skunk can spray as far as 40 feet away (OMG... 40 FEET?? Really?).
Okay, determined as we are, to make sure the Skunk lives all the way to Monday without any suffering we develop a plan. My wife goes out on the roof of our den, with a box of Cheerios... and carefully drops handsful of Cheerios into the cage... so the poor thing will have something to eat, and won't starve to death. (I hope Cheerios are okay... maybe he'd prefer Raisin Bran, or Rice Chex?). And from a safe distance, I take the garden hose, and try to spray a cooling mist over the cage every couple of hours... We manage this routine, on a regular basis over the long, hot weekend... and we arrive at Monday morning... with a happy, well-fed, cool skunk.
Monday mid-morning, city Animal Control arrives, the pick up truck pulls up, and my wife and daughters both run out to watch how they'll transfer our new friend. My daughter's faces suddenly turn ashen, as the Animal Control Feller (and yes, I did just call him a feller) with half a mouthful of teeth, wearing coveralls (and no shirt) steps out of the pick up, totin' a rifle. My wife asks... what're you going to do with that rifle?, as she attempts to turn the girls back toward the house.
Well, it turns out that Evanston Animal Control didn't have a "friendly relocation program" for skunks... (as Barbara's does)... just for other critters. And he perfunctorily walks into the back yard (as my daughters eyes fill with tears, waiting in the front yard), and the bang echoes through the neighborhood.
[insert dead silence here... around distance echo of a gun shot... and then crows rising into the sky.... cawing]
Now, I'm sure many of you can guess, that when the guy from Deliverance walked up to the trap, pointing a rifle, that the poor beleaguered animal released a full dose of odor. It released yet another dose when the bullet pierced it's scent sac and in the throes of death, sprayed it's little heart out. The odor spread out in waves, like atomic fallout.
It took weeks for the smell to leave our house (and I don't mean our yard... I mean it permeated the INSIDE of the house... it smelled as though they had shot that poor animal IN the center of our living room)! And then it took a couple more weeks for the smell in the yard to dissipate.
Needless to say, we have NEVER called animal control again. The soft scent of a wafting skunk in the yard is almost nostalgic these days. We would never think of putting ourselves through that again, and of course, our children would never forgive us... I'm not confident that they've forgiven us for the first time, yet