by Danielle Ihle

Hearing scratches against the wooden porch, and footsteps across the small
stones, intrigued my curiosity to see what was wondering in my backyard. The
noises only occurred after dusk, and I couldn’t understand why I heard the noise
but I didn’t see anything. This noise petrified me, because I had no idea what
was in my backyard. My curiosity and wonder all came to an end one summer night
when I pulled up into my driveway. I saw movement out of the corner of my right
eye, so I quickly got out of my car and looked in that direction. I focused on
the animal that was frozen still near my trap door. I did not run or walk away;
I stayed still, just like the animal did. Needless to say, I was stunned to see
what was looking back at me. It was a creature that I never took interest in,
and always turned my nose away from. It was a big black and white striped skunk.

The skunk was still sitting there after several minutes, so I decided to try
and get a better look. Taking small quiet steps, I inched up a little closer to
my porch. While doing this, I was constantly thinking about their defense
mechanism, so startling or frightening the skunk was the last thing I wanted to
do. It appeared to have long black hair with two strips of white going down
either side of its body, extending a little onto his tail. The tail was
extremely large and bushy with the majority of the hair being black. The head
appeared to be considerably small for the size of its body. It started off wide
towards its eyes and got very narrow reaching its mouth. There was a white strip
located in-between its eyes which stopped at what appeared to be its nose. This
skunk had four particularly short legs and small triangular shaped ears. The
size of its body was comparable to that of a chubby cat. It had a wide-bodied
frame, but did not appear to be more than 7 lbs. The skunk at they point sensed
my presence and scurried right underneath my porch. I think I might have scared
it when I accidentally coughed. This made me wonder how long the skunk has being
using the underneath of my porch as its home for. That was a little unnerving,
because I did not want to be greeted with its odor when opening by back door

The morning after was quite interesting. I looked over towards my garbage and
was not happy with what I had found. All of my garbage was everywhere but in the
bag. I assumed that the skunk had gotten into the garage throughout the night,
probably as a source for food. When I walked down the stairs towards the garbage
cans my assumptions were proven true. In one small muddy patch, I found
footprints. I know these were the footprints of the skunk because of the
research I did the previous night. A read a couple documents about skunks which
included a description of their footprints. The footprints in the mud had one
good imprint of its front and hind paws. The front paw resembled that of a small
bear with imprints of nails above the five pads. The hind paw resembled that a
baby footprint with imprints of nails above the toes. The prints were close
together instead of spread apart like I assumed they would be. That might
explain why they look like they waddle when they walk. Besides that, from
looking at the scattered garbage, the skunk ripped open the bag of dog food I
had put in there, and left pieces trailing under the porch. It also had interest
in the egg shells I had thrown into a cup. The cup was shredded and there were
pieces of the egg shells scattered throughout the drive way.

A couple nights had past where there was no sight of the skunk. Several
nights after, I had a few friends over and we sat on the back porch talking and
enjoying dessert. When all of a sudden one of my friends points over towards the
fence and shouts, “Look at that skunk, its walking alongside the fence.” I
quickly turned towards the fence and saw the skunk digging in the ground. It
would dig and move, dig and move. I did not know what it was digging for, but I
did notice that it was slow moving. It walked slowly along side the fence and
then disappeared into the neighbor’s yard. I am pretty sure we startled it
because of all noise we were making, and luckily it did not spray its obnoxious

A couple days later, one of the neighbors contacted me and told me that traps
were going to be set because they have spotted a skunk in the area, and to be
aware when in the backyard. I felt so bad for this skunk, because it really
wasn’t bothering anybody; it was just trying to find a good safe place to live.
I had kept my eye on the cage to see if there was any activity and unfortunately
there was. The skunk was in the trap and appeared to be unharmed. I didn’t want
to contact the people who were in charge of the trap because I didn’t want the
skunk to be in danger. Unfortunately, when I came home from school that
following afternoon the trap and skunk were gone. Somebody had come and picked
it up. From this day, I am unsure of the fate of the skunk, and have not seen
one in my area since.

I have learned that some people do not appreciate wild animals. They need to
live and make a place a home just as much as people do. When they are caught in
traps because they are an inconvenience in people’s lives, just think of how
people are an inconvenience to the animals’ lives. When skunks are caught in
traps they are most likely gassed, shot or drowned. When you think of that, it
might change your prospective of wild animals, and let them be. This experience
changed my prospective on wild animals.