Sep 11, 2012 Russ Tarby Uncategorized
My brother, James, and his wife, Kathy, flew in from California over Labor Day weekend. During their stay, I introduced them to the village’s newest nightspot, the White Water Pub on South Willow Street. After ordering cocktails, we sat at an outdoors table happily basking in the glow of the full moon. Our evening reverie was cut short when a nauseating skunk smell suddenly fouled the fresh night air. We scurried into the indoor bar-room to escape the stench.
Will the village ever prevail over the nuisance wildlife that constantly debases our quality of life? It’s a question which village officials have long avoided but one which they have finally begun to address.
Village trapper considered
On Aug. 20, Second Street resident Jim Spadafore publicly urged village trustees to hire a trapper dedicated solely to the village. The homeowner had contacted the town of Salina’s animal-nuisance wildlife trapper who was “overwhelmed” by the extent of the skunk problem across the town.
“I think it’s time for the village of Liverpool to hire their own trapper before a wild animal with rabies attacks a child or a pet,” Spadafore implored.
Mayor Gary White told Spadafore that — early next year when trustees formulate the village’s 2013-14 budget — they would seriously consider hiring a trapper specifically to service village residents.
Rabies or distemper?
Spadafore’s not the only villager with such concerns. His neighbor, Christina Fadden Fitch, worries as much about distemper as she does about rabies. Her family endured a frightening encounter with a skunk behaving oddly during daylight hours near their home on Hiawatha Trail.
“We had an ill skunk in our neighborhood last summer,” Fitch recently wrote in a letter to Mayor White. “My neighbor, John Parker, alerted me he’d seen a skunk about 5 p.m. one day out in daylight which is very odd. The next day [my daughter] Shannon took our dog out in the backyard and the skunk was right there acting strangely — circling and rolling over. Thankfully — since our dog rushed at it but didn’t reach it — the skunk didn’t react at all. The skunk moved on, but when I got home around 5:30 eventually both I and my neighbor, Sandy Parker, saw it, and I was able to observe its behavior more.”
Fitch did some research and found reports of skunks in Michigan believed to be suffering from distemper, a highly contagious and deadly disease. In 2008, more than five dozen skunks are believed to have succumbed to canine distemper in Shasta County in Northern California.
It’s bad enough having a pet sprayed by a skunk, but having a pet contract distemper or rabies can jeopardize its very life.
Carcasses need testing
Canine distemper primarily causes inflammation in an animal’s nervous and respiratory systems. While the virus poses no threat to human health, dog owners should vaccinate their dogs against distemper and keep them away from wild animals.
When Fitch determined that the skunk circling around her yard was likely suffering from distemper, she called town of Salina animal control. “Then the police came,” Fitch reported, “although by time they arrived we didn’t know where the skunk was anymore. It had headed down the street toward the woods. The officer was prepared to shoot it, but that wasn’t necessary. We believe it went off and died.”
A few months before the incident on Hiawatha Trail, Liverpool Police officers shot and killed two skunks which had been behaving strangely in village yards in broad daylight. The mayor said efforts to have the carcasses tested by county or state health officials proved fruitless. Taxpayers deserve better, but that’s another story…
Because distemper is so highly contagious, Fitch surmised that the virus may be spreading through the village’s ever-growing skunk population. Until county or state health and wildlife officials show more interest in this problem, residents will be left to their suspicions and speculations. Meanwhile, the repulsive animal aroma continues chasing villagers indoors every summer.