Last night the girls and I notices 4 baby skunks waddling across the grass, heading towards our goat and chicken barn. We had seen them a day or so before without a mom guiding them, so we assumed that they had been orphaned. After watching the 4 kits for about 20 minutes, one of the babies headed towards the barn and entered through the back gate. He or she had to cross paths with the goats, Luna and Areida.
I retrieved a plastic bin from the house, the girls got the water dispensors and Chris found his heavy-duty gloves in the garage. He picked up the baby in the barn and placed it in the bin without any smells or problems. The second, third and fourth went smoothly also. They had been hiding under some sticks next to the fire pit.
In the distance I noticed movement by the far airplane hangar, which is about 100 yards away. Sure enough, there were two more skunks skulking along the edge of the weeds. As we approached them, three more came out from around the corner of the hangar. These seemed a bit older, and a little more feisty. By the time we had placed them all in the bin, 5 more came out from the weeds and then we spotted another one coming out of a den about 100 feet away. Yep, that is about 15 baby skunks.
We thought we could possibly managed to help the four skunks we originally found, but we had added far to many to the bin, without a real plan in place. The bin began to smell like rotten eggs and onions mixed and so did my husband; skunk wrangler Chris.
We ended up taking them out of the bin and setting them all near the den and with some water outside of it. As we walked back to the house, we became acutely aware that the air was thick with stinky skunk smell, mostly near the place we had originally set down the bin. We could hardly take in a breath.
We did a bit of research and found out that there is not much you can do for orphaned skunk kits. I contacted the Minnesota Wildlife Rehabilitation Center, which is the largest wildlife rehab center in the US, and they told me that if the kits were brought into a center, they would be euthanized. They are the number one carriers of rabies in the state of Minnesota. On a more positive note for the skunks, I read about the impact skunks have on keeping balance in our environment. They eat the critters, including the Black Widow Spider, that we don’t really want lurking in our yards.
It is a bit sad to think that they will most likely die from starvation, but we all learned something and we did try to help them. If it wasn’t for the awful smell, they probably would have been living in a bin in our porch, drinking reconstituted puppy milk replacer. That is not to be their fate, so as a wise auntie said today … now I need to let Mother Nature take over.