A Dangerous Rescue Mission

I was trying to keep this purely a bike travel blog, but some things just need to be recorded.

This morning I realized that a digger was beginning to tear down the ramshackle wooden extension of a building behind us that was once a hardware store. It turns out they will renovate the less-derelict front section as an office, and are creating parking space behind.

For the 6 or 7 years that the building has stood unused by humans, it has been well used by the local skunks. I went outside to warn the digger operator that he was likely to unearth some irate skunks, but he had just begun and hadn’t seen any yet. I returned from my errands, however, to see several workers looking cautiously at a place quivering black and white fur could be seen under the wreckage. Two or three skunks cowered in terror as their home lay wrecked. While the first skip load was hauled to the dump, the workers considered their next move, and I called Wildlife Rescue to find that nobody would come unless an animal was injured. On the advice of WR, I brought various towels and old sheets to the scene in case they’d be useful for shooing or capturing skunks, or for protection against skunk spray at close quarters. As I left the scene, I opened the gates to adjacent gardens (ours and a neighbour’s) to increase the skunks’ escape options. At this point I left the scene for an appointment.

When I returned, I found the workers had captured three skunks and were trying to extricate a fourth from a piece of ducting that the poor critter had tried to hide in. The skunks had been trying to move away from the digger and into the part of the building that was to be renovated. The workers had protected themselves with sheets and towels, and were talking gently to the (front half of ) the very disgruntled young skunk that was stuck in the duct as they worked to remove enough protruding bolts so as to release him into the waiting garbage can.

When four skunks were safely stowed in three garbage cans, we discussed the next step. The air was thick with skunk spray by now, especially inside the building, and the workers advised me strongly against risking putting the “canned” skunks in my car. After a failed attempt to locate an available pick up truck, Scott and I very gently placed three garbage cans in my Subaru, drove half way to UBC, and carefully moved the cans onto a trail at the edge of the woods. With the cans placed side by side to keep what I assume was a family together, we carefully removed all three lids, gently lowered the cans onto their sides, backed away, and waited.

The twosome ran off so fast I couldn’t take their picture. The duct-wedged skunked staggered out looking stunned, and sat at the side of the trail looking traumatized, despite my encouraging words about him joining his siblings. When we helped the fourth skunk get out, who for some reason the workers had put in a garbage bag inside the can,he toddled after the first two and the fourth slowly followed suit.

Goodbye skunks. I hope you settle well and find a new home.

Upon reflection, I should have moved them all to the sometime skunk dwelling under our own front porch. This would have given them a quiet dark place to recover from their trauma. Then they could have moved on at nightfall. Then again, they might have stayed.

M

3 responses to “A Dangerous Rescue Mission

  1. A worthy endeavor. Makes me glad that all the wild mammals I have to face are squirrels.

  2. hilarious photos….thanks for sharing

  3. I’m glad to hear they were saved, humans have taken over a lot of land available, so they have to choice but to come closer to where humans are, I love this little guys, with respect for nature, we can all get along. May the Lord bless your kindness, every little thing that we do good to any creature or person, is blessing. Thank you, from someone that still believes that there is good in the world.

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