One of our backyard furry pals made an appearance a couple weeks ago, showing signs of un-wellness. It's one of the Skunks and seemed to be holding his front left leg up to his body. After some observation of this, I made a call into Toronto Wildlife Centre and explained the situation. End result was if I could catch him, to bring him in.
I'd seen the Skunk 4x. The initial sighting. Another morning he came out shortly after 9 am, I tried to trap him but he soon disappeared.
Note: I'm using my 500 mm lens so I am no where near him as I snapped a few pictures.
The next time it was just after 1 pm and I was about ready to leave for work. Funny to see him out at various day times but it's winter and when there's a little bit of a thaw, these semi-hibernating creatures appear and they are hungry.
This past Wednesday night, I am outside after work and notice him in the yard next door. He's digging in the snow by their shed, looking for food.
It's been difficult seeing him struggle to get around when the snow is on the ground. Then to try and find food, digging with his good foot while leaning down on his bad one. I'm not really sure if it's his foot or leg but something is wrong.
I decide it's a good time to try since I'm not having to rush out to work. This is going to make my Whisky Wednesday a memorable one.
I set the trap and watch from a distance. He's fumbling around next door and slowly working his way over to our yard. Next thing I know is he has some company, or rather competition for food in way of a ginormous Raccoon. Great! The Raccoon smells the wet cat food in the trap and wants it. I lure the Raccoon elsewhere with some cat kibble that is not in a cage.
I head inside for a bit, giving the Skunk it's space and no distractions from me. I make my drink and watch things from the window. It's after 11 pm and I can only see so far down the yard but that's alright. I will be going back out there soon enough.
Twenty minutes later, my sipping beverage is done and out I go. The night air is filled with the stench of Skunk. He's in the trap and the Raccoon is up a nearby cedar. I am assuming there was some kind of altercation between the two and the Skunk reacted. Everyone is hungry and aggressive right now.
I forgot to bring out a towel to cover the trap. Back in I go. I can't find one I know we don't need. I have a bag of sheets we were going to donate so I use one of them. It's a lot bigger than a towel but it will work.
I slowly walk towards the trap. I can see the Skunk fussing inside, trying to get out. I talk softly to him as to not startle him. I know my words mean nothing, giving him no comfort at this time, but he will know I am there. I then drop the sheet over the trap.
I'm glad it's a mild winter night, being just above zero celcius, and I have no worries about keeping him in the shed for the remainder of the night. Plus he has a whole tin of Fancy Feast cat food in the trap with him, which I am sure he will eat.
As I put him in the shed for the night, I am choking on the smell of the spray. It's in my hair, it's on my clothes. I can taste it like I just took a big bite out of it in the air. I set the trap down. I mutter an apology and wish him a good night. I shut the doors and head back to the house, making a quick call to TWC, to leave a message about my success.
I go inside, get changed, leaving those clothes in the furnace room. I wash up, wetting the ends of my hair and shampoo the area. It's the best I can do at this time of the night. I'm exhausted from work and the adventure, the whisky has made me really mellow.
Jump ahead to morning. I am anxious to go out there and check on him but I don't. I wanted to wait until it was time to leave for the centre before bothering him. The centre doesn't open until 8:30 am and I was going to wait until after 9 when morning rush hour would ease up. The less time for us being in the truck would be a good thing.
I chat with someone at the centre prior to leaving, giving them a heads up I was coming in.
I go out to the shed to get him. Angie left me a towel to use for transporting him covered instead of the bed sheet. So now I want to pull the sheet off the trap only to realize he had pulled a lot of it inside through the night. Seriously dude?!?!
I bring the trap out to the lawn where there is more light and room to do this. I'm lightly talking to him, explaining what the hell I am doing now. I know I asked him to keep his cool.
It took some work to pull all the material back through the various points where he pulled it in. It was a bumpy ride for him inside. But I finally had it all out. As I pulled the sheet away from the trap, I was covering the exposed section with the towel. He fussed a bit but all went rather smoothly.
The drive to the centre was fairly quick and hassle free. It was a stinky ride because he had sprayed hours earlier. I just breathed lightly and dealt with it.
He was getting an initial assessment pretty much right away and then settle him in somewhere until the next steps.
They thanked me for catching him. I thanked them for taking him in.
I drove home with the windows down. I got some odd looks because no one on the road had any idea my struggle. Hey, it's the first day of February, +3 celcius and sunny; that's reason enough to have the windows open for a little while.
Anyway, it is now the waiting game until I hear an update. Let's wish him well and hope he gets a 2nd chance at a wildlife. Some time has passed from when the injury occurred until now, that can go against him and a good recovery. I have no doubt I did the right thing. He was in pain and most likely slowly starving to death as he was unable to properly look for food as how Skunks do.
There are a lot of opinions about wildlife rehabilitation. Some people have very strong ones for it, some as strong against it. I know there are times we should not interfere but this certainly is not one of them. We welcome these creatures to our property. We love seeing them. It's only fair to watch out for them. To have compassion.
What's funny is when I filled out my volunteer driver application, there was a section about animals not wanting to drive. The Skunk was the only one I could think of because of my fears of getting sprayed. This is the second one I have brought in, in the last 8 months. My how things have changed. We've learned a lot about these creatures, especially last Summer when we had so many wandering the backyards. They are misunderstood animals, like so many others. Not everything is rabid and wants to rip your face off. And Skunks aren't nearly as trigger happy as so many people think.
Lastly, none of that "hero" calling malarchy. I'd like to think anyone reading this blog would have done something for the Skunk too!
I have an short update on what has come of him in the last week, see here.