These are the salad days for one lucky skunk. Officer James Kellett said a skunk whose head was stuck in an empty salad dressing jar wandered into the police station's parking lot Thursday in Carrollton Township, near Saginaw and about 80 miles north of Detroit.
Kellett wanted to serve and protect the white-striped weasel, but wasn't interested in any resistance — spray or otherwise. So he grabbed a BB gun used in hunters' safety courses and shot at the jar from about 40 feet.
The shots cracked and shattered the jar, leaving a glass collar around the skunk's neck. With its head free, the skunk ran off.
"I didn't want to use deadly force, and it is a residential area," Kellett told The Saginaw News. "The way he was when he took off, he was able to eat, breathe and spray — and do anything else skunks like to do."
Kellett didn't get much in the way of gratitude, but he's grateful the skunk didn't spray. And the makers of T. Marzetti's salad dressing are sending the officer coupons good for free dressing as a reward.
This is NOT a good thing. This is not the way to handle a skunk in this situation. This should not be in the media as a good way to handle a skunk in this situation.
As much as the idea of getting sprayed by a skunk gives us all heart palpatation, you can do almost anything to a skunk, if you speak to the animal, and approach calmly with a towel or sheet (not plastic, which rustles)--and you will not get sprayed.
Step one is NOT "get out a gun" but "call someone who is familiar with handling wildlife."
In this case I would have found a square garbage can and set it on its side along a building wall. With a towel or sheet I would have gently herded the skunk into it. The skunk would not be able to jump out once the garbage can was tipped back up on end. The sheet could be laid gently over the skunk, you reach around under the sheet and grap the jar, and allow the SKUNK to pull out of the jar.
If the jar is on too tightly, you call a vet, who can tranquilize the skunk right in the garbage can.
I once had a skunk who was in the middle of a college campus going round and round in circles with a yogurt cup on his head. I was able to just go over with a feral cat den, set it over him, and slide the door closed. Then I took him home, cover the den with a sheet, got a set of pliers, reached in and grabbed the cup, and let him pull it off.
Unfortunately this left a ring of plastic around the skunks neck. So I gave him a bit of time to calm down, and grabbed the ring with the pliers, and let him pull back.
Then I took him back where I had caught him and let him go.
So far, with the countless skunks I've had to round up, skunks have only sprayed when I've had to catchpole them (and then they sprayed in the cat crate that I set them in...not on me, thank goodness). I've since learned that herding them into confinement is the best way to go. As long as you speak to the skunk so it knows you are there (they are nearsighted and spray when alarmed), and handle him carefully, and take your time, you'll be alright.
There was once a skunk in a highway with a six pack holder stuck on its head. Given the heavy traffic, I ended up just running out, laying a towel over the skunk, bundling it up, and taking it to my car (I don't recommend this unless you are willing to take the risk of getting sprayed--it was an emergency. People were stopping to gawk and an accident was sure to happen). Another time there was a skunk in a small box in a dumpster. He refused to come out from the box, so I just shut the lid on him, laid a towel over it, and carried the skunk, box and all, into the woods a few feet away and set it down.
I have to say, the wide-eyed looks I got from people as I walked down the sidewalk with a box and a skunk tail hanging out, was worth it.
This poor skunk in this story is now out there with a ring of broken glass around its neck. And because it "looks OK" we tell ourselves "Of COURSE he's OK."
He's not. He's likely going to die a long slow death because of that broken glass around his neck. The cop would have done better to shoot him outright (although that would indeed have caused the skunk to spray).
This is not a good story. I can't blame the cop for using the tools he had available, but in this case someone should have just called someone who isn't afraid of skunks and who preferably is rabies vaccinated. Perhaps they tried, and no one would help.
But I can't help but feel sorry for the skunk.