I have a problem; one that has haunted me for years. It is a problem that I have ignored, using Band-aid solutions in hopes that it would remedy itself. It has started to impact my home life now and I am not sure how to resolve it. Well, I do know; this is another problem I have. I have the necessary tools and the knowledge to fix my problem and yet I turn my back on it while it grows and destroys. I huddle in the shelter of my home, in the darkness, afraid. The darkness breeds my problem; it turns into a monster after sunset. Yes, I have a skunk. It has been there for years and shows no sign of leaving. Apparently my shed is the sex den for these skunks; like the Red Light District of Amsterdam, my 16’ x 20’ shed has become a skunk brothel of South London. I am not sure how many have come and gone or how many there really are now. All I know is that once the sun sets behind the horizon I live in fear. Going out after dark with the dogs has become a time consuming ritual. Leashes? Check. a 12” long, 17 lb. Mag-lite inherited from my father? Check. a Out we go...slowly, cautiously. I stomp around on the patio and do a few random throat clearings to scare anything away. The hardest thing is that my dogs don’t poop readily on a 6’ leash. They want to pick their spot, sniff the perfect target. The dogs stare up at me in anticipation. Sorry boys, after dark you need to do your business right here, right now or forever hold your pee. In truth, I am so prepared for a potential skunking disaster that I have an emergency kit of skunk ingredients ready to go. But why do I tempt fate like this? I am only asking for more trouble if I don’t take care of it now. By the way, I have a fantastic recipe for de-skunking dogs. If you need it I’ll send it to you; is cheap and very effective. So it was on a Saturday evening in August that I decided I had had quite enough of this skunk bully and set forth on a mission to rid the neighbourhood of all things skunk. I pulled the live trap from the shed and set to work.
I have done enough research on skunks that I feel I am an aficionado of sorts; between my Google research and watching several episodes of Billy the Exterminator on A& E, I can tell you quite a bit about their breeding habits, eating habits and their winter stores of fat. Known fact: there is no reprieve from a skunk in the winter. They do not officially hibernate; they sleep deeply and appear during the milder winter weather to search for food. I also know that skunks will not spray in enclosed areas so I proceeded to wrap the trap in tin foil and enough duct tape to keep 3M in business for the next century. I then wrapped my skunk space pod in a garbage bag (you can never be too careful) and baited the trap with delicious sardines (again, more internet research). I placed the trap near the hole and waited to see what happened.
Sunday morning, 6:00 AM. Bright, warm, sunny summer day. Commotion wakes me from my slumber. I can hear scratching and crinkling noises. I creep outside and see the cause of the ruckus. Skunk. I got a skunk. I FINALLY GOT A SKUNK. Now what? Oh Lord, I had not thought this through apparently. I have to be to work in three hours and it can’t stay in the trap all day, he’ll bake and die in the tinfoil wrapped cage in the hot summer sun. Wait....really? Bake and die? Well, maybe that’s not so bad... maybe I’ll leave it there and pretend I never saw it, try to convince my conscience that I am a good human being and not an animal torturer. Ohhh, no, no, no. That is not right...and the smell, in August?....Can’t do it. Oh dear Lord.
I start to sweat- instant sweat of panic. I am tortured by panic. I slowly open the gate. The skunk is in the process of peeling away all my layers of tinfoil and duct tape. You can see his little tongue sticking out the side of his mouth, straining his eyes in concentration, intently focused on the peeling. The ground is covered in aluminum foil. He is in there, meticulously peeling his way to freedom one layer at a time. I cover the trap with towels and gently, oh so slowly pick up the trap which I carry to the driveway and place by my car. I step back to gather my thoughts. I do a panic dance- sort of an excited jump, spastic ‘WTF do I do now?’ sort of jig.
Okay, breathe. Phew.....What are my options? Well, I read that gassing is relatively humane...okay. Tailpipe, plastic bag.... Stop.
City of London By-Law section 3.1 of the Idling Control By-law amended October 2009.
3.1 Idling – Motor Vehicle - more than two (2) consecutive minutes - prohibited
No person shall idle a Motor Vehicle for more than two consecutive minutes.
Damn. Thwarted. I pictured myself in my pajamas donning my wild bed head as I explain to the police officer why my car was running while the little stinker chokes, sputters and gags his last breath while attached to the tailpipe of my Mazda Pro5. No, I would likely face a fine and the SPCA would get wind of it for sure. I could drown it? No...Dead animals freak me out. Disposing of it would be my issue. I stand in my driveway, sweaty and panicked. I shall re-locate the skunk. Absolutely the best way to go.
I get my keys and pop the hatch, gently move the trap into the trunk. I get in the car and slowly put the car into reverse, turn on my hazards and back out of my driveway. Early Sunday morning and nary a car on the road- perfect. I make my way to Meg Drive and cross over Exeter Road and drive south to the dead end where I decide the wooded desolate area would make a perfect new home for a skunk. Okay, this is good. No incidents and I feel a bit less sweaty and panicky, but I am, however, very concerned about the actual release and departure of the skunk. I am bent over the trap and trying to fiddle with the door to flip it open. Dear Lord, what if is bites me? Skunks are notorious for carrying rabies, you know. Jesus...I can’t afford to get rabies right now...I need to be to work soon....I can’t sell kids clothes while foaming at the mouth... I open the door (sweat pouring down my temples, heart pounding so hard and fast I can almost hear it is my ears) and wait. The skunk makes his grand appearance, blinking eyes in the sunlight, makes a mad dash for the hills and never looks back. He scurries along the grass and into the field. I almost faint from the relief of it all and return to my car, shaking and trembling from all the fear and adrenaline. Done deal. Smell you later, little friend.
Later that evening I brag to my neighbour that I caught THE skunk. I felt like a local hero and now should be held in fairly high regard amongst my fellow London Southies for being so fearless and brave (or stupid, whatever you want to call it). He eyed me like I had three heads and casually informed me that there is not one skunk Jennifer, but at least two that he has seen together in his yard. My pride deflates like a balloon. One down, more to go I suppose.