The Outdoor Journal by Kyle Carroll
We will conclude the three part series on otters next week. We need to take time out this week for a timely announcement. The skunk mating season will commence this week, so plan accordingly. If you have a hole under a step or back porch that you have been meaning to plug up, better do it this week. You don't want amorous skunks bumping around under your house or barn if you can prevent it.
How do we know that this week is the week? Each spring about Valentines Day, striped skunks come out of their winter dens. The forecast looks decent this week, so by the time you read this it will be underway.
You will know when the skunks urge to roam and find mates has begun when you begin to see the unfortunate, distracted victims along the edge of the highway. Actually, you may not even see Mr. skunk, but you can't miss smelling the unmistakable odor released by the deceased fur-bearer.
Skunks eat large numbers of mice and rats as well as moles, shrews, ground squirrels, young rabbits, and chipmunks. During different times of the year, they will also eat lizards, salamanders, frogs, earthworms, crayfish, clams, minnows and turtle eggs, plus fruit of many kinds, some grasses, leaves, buds, roots, nuts, grain and even fungi are eaten on occasion.
The trapping of skunks has almost become nonexistent in recent years. Skunk pelts reached their peak value in 1979 when they were worth $3.45. The white part of the skunk pelt is trimmed out and sewn back together leaving the black fur to be used for coat collars and other fur products. Skunk “essence” is still valuable and is sometimes extracted and sold by trappers and purchased by the ounce by buyers for use in perfumes and trapping lures.
If you think it has been a long winter, cheer up. The first of the “signs of spring” will be out there along the side of the road for all of us to see and smell probably this week.