Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Striped Bandit?

There had been damage done by a wild animal to the caller’s property and they had decided to set a live-trap. On the first night they had successfully caught a skunk. They contacted the Center in the morning and wanted to know what to do with it.

The first thing to do in this situation is to cover up the trap with a heavy towel or tarp as it will help to keep the animal more calm and protect any bystanders from suffering the wrath of a scared skunk at the same time.

The second thing to do is to carry the trap to the most secluded point on THE SAME property and open it facing away from you. Because the skunk will be scared, especially being forced to wander out during the daylight, it may run as far and as fast as possible, or the trap may need to be left alone for several hours in order to give him time to slowly make his way to safety.

Why is this my only recommendation?
Because, regardless of the perceived issues any animal may be causing, they are almost always solved more effectively in other ways like eliminating any food sources.
Because it is a likely possibility you may trap a different individual or a different species altogether than the culprit you are actually after.
Because state rules prohibit trapping and releasing any wild animals on property that you do not own without explicit permission in addition to the regulated seasons and rules thereof for the trapping of various species. (contact your local Department of Natural Resources office or their website to learn more)
Because even when a trap is used in every legal way and a location for release is properly obtained, the chances of the animal surviving post-release are small. When an animal is relocated it has no idea where the best shelter or food sources are, and they may encounter other animals that have already claimed the territory and will often defend it with their lives.

Animals need certain things to survive and more often than not, the places they are found have those things. If you do a little research you may often discover simple steps you can implement that will help to ease your tensions with your wild neighbors. You can also check the living with wildlife page on our website for tips and suggestions. Most importantly, keep in mind that trapping and relocating animals in the spring and summer months not only puts the lives of that individual in danger, but also potentially their offspring who could starve to death if something happens to their parent.

To top it off, short discussion with someone about this skunk and the perceived issues it was causing revealed a compelling case of wrongful blame. Taking the time to do some research or talk with a wildlife rehabilitator, wildlife specialist or even your local humane society will often reveal things about the natural behaviors of animals that can rule out certain species from the usual suspects. Once you are armed with more information, the most cost-effective, humane, and effective long-term solutions are those that address the underlying problem. Over 70% of the cases we discuss regularly are solved by simply removing a food source or performing simple repairs. Other problems are solved easier than you think by just putting yourself in their shoes for a moment. We are humans, we are intelligent and we need to live in harmony with these creatures; it is possible and they provide us with a great number of benefits we would be unable to get elsewhere.

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