Friday, April 23, 2010

Apparently Skunks Like Strawberries

....and I need a nap.

Below is the long and dramatic saga of my morning escapades. You really can't make this stuff up, folks. Better grab a cup of coffee and settle in.....

This morning started like any other morning, but quickly turned out to be the most ridiculous drama-filled ordeal. If you've read the blog for a while, you probably know that I have a shed that I like to refer to as the 'Groundhog Love Shack.' We have trapped them, relocated them, and a new one always moves in. I don't want them taking up residence in my yard for two reasons: A) They can be mean and I have three little kids who like to play in the yard, and B) They eat whatever they please in my garden. This year, I thought we were home free, until I put the ducks out in the backyard. Two hours later, the groundhog made his first appearance. I have been setting the trap out for him the last week or so with no luck. Last night I set it again. This morning, I looked out the window to see something in the trap. But alas, it was too small to be a groundhog. I walked out the backdoor and walked a few feet toward the cage. It turned to me and at first I thought it was a possum, but quickly ruled that out. It was a skunk, but without the stripe. I made a beeline back into the house and told Jeff. His kind response went something like this: 'Well, what are you going to do? How are you going to get it out? If you shoot it (with an air gun) it will spray. You better call Animal Control or something.' And as he walked out the door to work, he generously said 'Call me if I need to bail you out of jail.' Thanks, honey, thanks. I tried calling Animal Control, though I was pretty sure they would tell me I was out of luck. They only do cats and dogs. I could never get a hold of them, so I tried the Department of Fish and Game. The conversation went as follows:

Me: Hi, I managed to trap myself a skunk. What should I do?
F&G Guy: What'd you trap a skunk for?
Me: Well, I was trying to catch a groundhog, but I caught a skunk instead.
F&G Guy: Well, groundhogs don't come out at night, but skunks do. You shouldn't set the trap at night.
Me: Well, yes, that may be my problem but how am I going to get the skunk out of my yard?!?
F&G Guy: Well, we don't help with that. Here's what you do: get an old sheet, and hold it in front of you. Approach the skunk very slowly. Slowly and gently lay the sheet over the skunk, and then, very slowly reach down and release it from the cage.
Me: So is it going to spray me?
F&G Guy: Well, if you go real slow it **shouldn't** spray you. (emphasis mine)
Me: OK, thanks.

In the meantime, I am calling my sister back and forth, lamenting over my predicament. Mostly, I was doing the lamenting and she was laughing hysterically at me. What should I do? I mean, there seem to be so few options. All the while, I watched from my kitchen window as the skunk ran back and forth in the cage, madly scratching and digging, trying to get out. Clearly Pepe Le Peu was a little peeved at this point. At some point, the conversation landed on actually paying someone to come out and take care of it. Well, there are several reasons I was opposed to that. First of all, if you know Jeff and I, you know that we are DIY sort of people. Jeff's motto is 'why pay someone to do something you can do yourself,' even if it means spending 453 hours repairing a lawn mower you found for free only to see it explode in flames in the middle of the yard. Not that I'm saying that's happened to us. The second reason I didn't feel like paying someone is that we all know it would cost an arm and a leg. Who wants to remove a skunk? Not me, that's who. But, at Rachel's insistence (and her joking that if I got sprayed Tyler would be weaned in a hurry and that they wouldn't get anywhere near me til I got done stinking), I called a wildlife removal agency. $229!!!!!!! TWO HUNDRED TWENTY NINE AMERICAN DOLLARS!!! But, as Rachel said, can you really put a price on not smelling like skunk for two months. But still. I couldn't do it. And even if I could, Jeff would have a myocardial infarction and that would cost a whole lot more than $229. Yet the option of me taking care of the skunk removal didnt' seem too thrilling either, though I could've charged Rachel and Phil admission to come over and watch the show. Did I mention that the trap is borrowed? Another reason I don't want the skunk to spray all over it. The trap is an $80 trap. So, the saga went on. Call a professional??? Try the sheet method??? Shoot the darn thing with a pellet gun and hope it works? That I was not too keen on for a multitude of reasons: first, we live in a neighborhood, second, a pellet gun is not made for that and I didn't want to end up injuring it, and third, while I used to be a pretty good shot, I haven't shot a gun in ages especially at a moving target. And thanks to my online research (what did we do before the internet?) I found that skunks usually spray when shot, unless you can get them in a certain spot. And then we would be paying $80 for a trap anyway. Not to mention I would be shooting into a cage with 1/2" openings in the cage. And it was in the shade, hard to see. Annie Oakley I am not. I called a few more places. Some people won't even mess with skunks. One cantankerous guy told me 'Well, we won't touch 'em. Call the township.' I told him the township won't do it. He said, in a heavy Jersey accent, 'Here's whatcha do! You cawl the township, tell 'em you gotta heart condition. Tell 'em you're real scared. (pause) And tell 'em you not gonna pay ya taxes til they come and get rid of it for ya. That'll get 'em out there!' Well, thank you kind sir for the information, but somehow I just don't think so. I called a few more places and finally got a quote of $100. Still seems like a hundred bucks I don't want to spend, but I scheduled the appointment anyway. Jeff still did not want to pay to get it removed when we could do it ourselves, but as I watched the skunk run back and forth inside the cage I felt that there was no stinkin' way (ha, ha) that I'd be able to get it. In the meantime, the phone rang and lo and behold it was another wildlife control place calling me back. He told me he'd do it for $75 and that he could be over pronto. So, I called the other place and canceled the appointment. About ten minutes later a guy who looks like Dog the Bounty Hunter's BFF shows up, sans mullet. Before I could even get to the door, my animal-loving neighbor shows up on my lawn and asks the guy what's going on. Poor guy. I explained to her that I was trying to catch the groundhog to relocate him and accidentally got a skunk. I got the evil eye, along with 'well, that's where they live!' She told me groundhogs weren't mean, but fortunately the skunk wrangler told her that, yes, they can be mean, they can sometimes go after humans. I got the whole 'That's their natural habitat and how can you even think about moving them somewhere else speech, about three times. I was nice, and I told her that I am not trying to kill the groundhog, just move him. I know that we humans keep encroaching on animals' natural habitats and it is reasonable to expect that there will be problems. I just don't want the groundhog in my yard. To end the conversation I asked the guy if he wanted me to show him where the skunk was. Once around the corner I apologized to him about the neighbor and he said as soon as she started walking across the lawn he knew what was coming. As soon as I came back around she came back and kept telling me how I just need to leave them be and how she hopes I've learned my lesson. I should have told her that I learned my lesson alright, that next time I'll use the 3-S treatment. Anyway, it was interesting to say the least. She was not happy, all because the poor skunk walked into the trap instead of the groundhog. After fending her off, I went back into the kitchen to watch the Bounty Hunter capture the skunk. He took a couple sheets and two long poles with pinchers on the end. He snuck around the shed and covered the trap with the sheets using his extendo-arm pinchers. Then he carefully carried the trap out to his truck. He'll do whatever he does with it, and bring the trap back. I can tell you one thing, I am not going to be trapping anymore groundhogs. Now I must come up with a new plan to keep them from multiplying under my shed. And the saga continues....

1 comment:

DayPhoto said...

Skunks...the bane of all human kind. You made me laugh, even though it was serious.