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November 14, 2011 8:48 AM   Subscribe

What would be the best way to subdue an urban skunk?

Bubbles is an urban skunk, a juvenile who lives in the West End neighborhood of Vancouver, Canada. He's named for the fact that he has a bubble tea lid stuck around his neck. As he grows, that lid will choke him. With help from the Vancouver Orphaned Kitten Rescue Association (VOKRA), a team of neighborhood volunteers is trying to capture Bubbles so that his plastic death-collar can be removed.

We vow to go out every night until we can save him,” said rescuer Tracy Dundass. “We love animals and we are not afraid to help this animal in distress.” They have been canvassing the neighborhood asking residents to report sightings of Bubbles so that they can sweep in to help him.

As for tactics, volunteer Drina Read said that “if we have about three or more people, we should be able to surround it, move in and take off the lid.” That is the craziest idea I've heard all week. They've actually tried to do this, but the elusive skunk managed to slip away again after a two-hour standoff. To date, Bubbles remains at large.

Given that their current tactics are both ineffective and bizarre, I was wondering if the mefi hive mind could suggest anything better. I certainly hope that tranquilizer dart guns are illegal in Canada. What would be workable? Live traps? Hazmat suits? Tomato juice and a super-soaker?

This is not an abstract question. If we could actually find a workable set of tactics, Ms. Read's phone number and email address have been posted here.

(previously on askMeFi, the more sensible question of how to make a skunk stop entering a backyard)
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow to Pets & Animals (9 answers total)
 
More seriously, though, don't they have humane traps in Canada? Seems like the most effective means to me.
posted by orrnyereg at 8:58 AM on November 14, 2011


Couldn't they trap him in the sort of wire cage trap used for feral cats (and other urban animals), and then use some long snips to get the lid off of his neck? i hope they're wearing goggles and old clothes while they're doing this, too.

I've handled all kinds of wild animals, but there's no way I'd try to "subdue" a skunk. Good lord.
posted by HopperFan at 8:59 AM on November 14, 2011


don't they have humane traps in Canada?

I'd thought of that, but there's the problem that they'd pick up every outdoors cat in the neighborhood before they got Bubbles.

They could always entice Bubbles with a lovely lady skunk...


...or a black cat with a painted on stripe.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 9:08 AM on November 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


Havahart skunk trapping instructions.

Official How to trap a skunk page.

The suggestions seem pretty straightforward, though I have to say I'd be scare to do it myself.
posted by alms at 9:09 AM on November 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


A friend of mine used to trap skunks as a part of his job. He baited the traps with expired hostess snacks. If you are worried about catching cats it might be worth picking up some devil dogs to try first.
posted by phil at 9:26 AM on November 14, 2011


Use a Havahart. Once trapped, have someone wearing protective gear sneak up on the trap and throw a blanket over it. Have dog catcher style noose on a stick ready, open door, get skunk out, remove lid, remove noose, run like hell.
posted by HotToddy at 10:15 AM on November 14, 2011


When I was 13-14 my dad used a tiny leghold trap in our mud room.[ : ( ] Something had chewed its way in and my dad wanted to catch it. Well it was a skunk. So we had a skunk trapped in our house.
He tried to let it out and remove the trap outside. Well, the thing ran off into the night in our suburban neighborhood. He was done with this project but I was haunted so I spend a couple hours searching for it. It was pretty quick and could still scramble under wood piles. I finally caught it with a blanket and freed it. I was sprayed because, well, it's tricky to open one of those leghold traps, especially when your an 90 pound kid. I really didn't care about getting sprayed, tho and I think that led to my success.
Don't worry about getting sprayed. I got sprayed and still went to my first high school dance that night and you could barely smell me. In retrospect tho I wish I kept my mouth closed and had glasses on.
posted by beccaj at 11:38 AM on November 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


If I may offer a refinement to HotToddy's suggestion...make sure to cut a slit in the blanket so you can reach the handle of the Havahart trap through it, especially if you're planning to move the cage. Best way I've ever found is to place the covered cage in a kids' wagon, so you can put at least a few feet between yourself and Little Stinky.

Please be aware that rabies is always a risk. Stink goes away, but bites require painful and lengthy treatment. Also? Skunks have surprisingly large claws and they're a little, um, disturbing up close. Memory may be providing embellishment here, but you be the judge. This was a cat-sized Havahart.

The Havahart cage should have openings big enough to slip a pole through. If you add a hook to the end of the pole, it might be possible to catch the collar and gently bring it close to the side so any snipping of the lid can be done safely. IIRC, the unlatch mechanism can be a little tricky but can be sprung with a pole or stick. PRACTICE THIS FIRST. I'd make sure to wear heavy gloves, a washable/disposable coverall and really thick boots during this part of the operation, though. Also maybe to put a big stinky bowl of tuna fish close to the trap so that your newly freed skunk has an immediate distraction upon release.

Good luck.
posted by MonkeyToes at 7:23 PM on November 14, 2011


End of the story: Bubbles was successfully caught by trap and given his much needed surgery to remove the plastic ring. Kudos to Mia Cirotto of the Wildlife Rescue Association for the catch. So yeah, traps are the way to go.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 3:31 AM on December 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


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