Meet our friends...
The spring of 2001 was a time of renewal here. Baby animals were abound as is the case all over the world. Here in our neck of the woods there were two things that marked the spring to us. Across the street under a neighbors front stoop a little black stray cat gave birth to 4 kittens, and across the street 4 doors down a mother skunk gave birth to a litter of 9 kits.
The kittens are the subject of another friend page when I have the time. For this page we will focus on the skunks.
Between 4 and 6 weeks after the birth of the kits, the mother skunk wandered across the busy road near by and was killed. Her babies were now alone. After a day or two they began to emerge to seek their mother and food. I found out about the misfortune and decided to help.
Lucky for them this happened at a time I was working out of my home for a couple of months, and I was able to go outside and feed them a few times a day. I would bring them cat food (both dry and canned) and milk. As time went on, the woman who lived in the house they lived under complained to me that they smelled awful and her home now was bordering to unlivable. Personally I didn't believe her as the little kits did not smell and would let me get right up to them (my vet also confirmed they were too young to have musk) two brave kits would take food from my hands! I knew I would have to find a home and relocate them or she would call animal control, or they would all be hit by cars.
Sadly a few days later one kit was killed in the road. I removed it from the street and buried it in my back yard, taking care to place some of his favorite food in the grave with him and a little on the dirt after I buried him. It was a very sad day for me, as I began to think of them as my friends.
The woman who owned the house decided she would call animal control. I had little time left. I tried to contact animal shelters but none would help. It seems that in Illinois it is illegal to care for wild skunks, and a law says if you catch one it MUST be killed. This is an old law and roots in the fear of rabies. It is a stupid law and I was not about to follow it. The next day she called animal control, but I managed to get them to leave as I was part of the board for the development at the time. I explained I would relocate them before the weekend and the animal control officer told me he had to return Monday and I needed to move fast. It was Thursday. That evening I caught 1 of the kits and set it free by a lake in the woods.
But when I turned it loose it stood there, confused. My heart sank. It was scared and had no idea where it was. I left and returned about 90 minutes later with another of the kits. When returned to the spot, the first was still there walking in tight circles, not knowing where to go or what to do. It was shivering from fear too. I wanted to cry, but knowing the chances of life after Monday was zero, I let the next go. He wandered to his brother and I put down a bunch of food and left. I was able to catch no more that evening. I slept poorly that night, imagining all kinds of horrid thinks like coyotes eating the 2 kits I let loose, or owls or hawks.
The next day I finally located a underground skunk rescue about 3 hours south of the house. I was excited. When I explained the situation they agreed to take the remaining 6 kits, rear them and set them free in late October. I managed to catch the remaining kits that afternoon, and kept them in my garage all night. The next day my girlfriend and I drove the 3 hours to deliver them to the rescue.
It was a sad time as well as a happy time. I saved 6 skunks. I never found out the fate of the two at the lake. I went there daily for a week and never found them or even a trace of them. The last time I went I placed a few flowers on the ground where I set them free and hoped they made it.
We consider them our wild friends. I only hope they consider us their friends as well.