Sunday, 6 October 2013

Wildlife and Garbage

This week I had the pleasure of assisting a skunk with a caffeine craving that could have cost him his life easily.

A call came in about a skunk with something stuck around his neck. The lady who called agreed to allow me to put a life trap near the shed under which the skunk lives.

Early (before going to work) I drove back out there to see if he was caught and indeed there was a skunk in the trap. Upon closer examination I discovered that around his neck was a clear lid from McDonalds. One of those lids used for iced cappuccinos.

I did bring drugs to sedate the skunk if need be, but there is always a risk involved with sedation, so I made the choice to see if I could remove him from the trap and hold him so that the lid could be removed.

The trick with this is to ensure you force his tail down asap. A skunk can not spray when his tail is forced down. No, don't get to excited and start picking up skunks, because they can still give you little poofs of spray. The gloves I am wearing in this picture did get skunked a bit.  The padded gloves are necessary however because skunks do bite and can scratch as well.

The lid was really tight around this neck. After a couple of quick snips with a pair of scissors the skunk was freed from his unusual necklace and I released him so he could return to his den and sleep the day away. I bet he woke up thinking he had a really strange dream...

 This is of course not the first time human garbage puts an animals life in danger. I have countless example like this one.

Earlier this year I ventured into a very stinky pond (about waste deep water/mud) to make my way to a heron completely entangled in fishing gear (lines, hooks etc). The call had come from the OPP and the location was well over an hour away. The local animal control had refused to help because the animal was in the water and they had some rules surrounding that.

I did choose to go out to assist this bird. A little water and mud has never stopped me before. Herons are dangerous birds who can do some serious damage to humans if not handled correctly, but as often happens he did not fight me to much. He was tired of fighting with the fishing gear.

After a very wet struggle with an assortment of tools I was able to free the heron and he gratefully and gracefully took flight. Luckily he had sustained no injuries from this ordeal. Me on the other hand....Fish hooks are very sharp!

Those same fish hooks are a common cause of death for turtles. Countless turtles die as a result of swallowing a fish hook. Fisherman: cutting that line when you 'catch' a turtle most often does not resolve the problem. It just resolves the problem for you...

The moral here is an obvious one: Please ensure that you put garbage away so that unsuspecting animals looking for a treat do not die as a result of it.

We all know this, but sometimes it is good to get reminded of the consequences of our actions.


  1. if we could post these stories on a window at every McDonalds or other fast food outlets, perhaps there would be a few less tragedies. Would people be less thoughtless if they knew what their personal consequences were?

    1. Great idea, but I doubt that McDonald's would be very happy if we did. Doesn't exactly look good on them. This was not the first time I have removed a similar lid from a wild animal, so it certainly is a concern.