Today, my daughter has a block of classes, so I have a few precious hours to myself. I had ripped some new songs to my MP3 player and was inspired to burn some calories by heading up the hill with the dog instead of my usual meander in the open space.
Since we were heading up to the road, I leashed the dog. I put in my earbuds and went grooving along past the barn. Suddenly, the dog did a major double-take. I turned to look at what caught her attention, and was very surprised to see a Striped Skunk wandering, or attempting to wander down the neighbor's fire road. Having seen the dog, the skunk adopted the defensive tail-up position. I froze, watching. Then the skunk took two wonky steps and collapsed.
It's really wrong to see a skunk wandering about in daylight. If you see one, be wary. (In California, skunks are a primary carrier of rabies). Based on the lurching/collapsing in the middle of the day, I immediately went home and called Wildlife Rescue. I explained the situation; they gave me the phone number for San Jose Animal Services.
Alas, we live outside their jurisdiction; I was transferred to County Animal Services. The county "doesn't handle skunks," I was told, and I should call Vector Control. Oh, and by the way, they will kill the animal. Given that he was in pretty terrible shape anyway, I actually thought this might not be a bad solution. But it turns out that Vector Control also will not come out for a "dying or dead skunk."
Here we have a potentially dangerous animal in clear distress, wandering around an area where there are plenty of unsuspecting kids and dogs. And NO ONE will come to catch it or kill it? That seems pretty odd to me. I guess you're on your own up here.
So I made another call to Wildlife Rescue. They said they could take the skunk, and that recently, they had successfully rehabilitated a skunk who had ingested poison. But they had no one who could pick him up.
So, it came down to me to get this poor creature to anywhere that he might be helped to recover, or put out of his misery. Wildlife Rescue kindly offered to have one of their skunk experts call me to advise me on the handling/transport.
Basically, a skunk is very shy, non-aggressive. I know this. But they spray. The dog has been skunked twice. It is intense and nauseating, and de-skunking is a big pain. I was pretty sure that my attempt to move the skunk would result in a spraying. And once I got my head around that, I figured that although I would likely get sprayed, it was very unlikely that I would be bitten or scratched.
So here's my list of "How to Prep for an Unavoidable Skunk Encounter"
Wear old clothes that you wouldn't mind throwing away.
Cover your hair, eyes, and face.
Don't wear leather (except gloves). Leather will thirstily drink up all the skunk musk, and will stink forever.
Get an old towel or blanket.
Approach the skunk slowly from the rear.
Slowly lower the blanket over the skunk.
Then what??? I decided to wing it. Here's how it went.
|Skunk is on the ground just slightly to the upper left of the bin.|
|Once I had the skunk covered, I carefully scooped him up.|
|I think it was right here that the spray occurred.|
|O.K., little guy?|
|I'm so excited to put this in my car....|
All told, it could have been worse.
Having read a bit about skunk-in-daylight behavior, I now think it pretty likely that he had rabies. But I really can't think about that. For one, sheesh, how stupid to handle a potentially rabid skunk. But on the other hand, really, no one else was going to move that critter, and he needed to be dealt with one way or another.
I don't feel very confident that he's going to recover, but I will call Wildlife Rescue tomorrow for an update.
Thank you Chigiy Binell for photos, advice, and moral support!