Skunk carried to safety in ultra-Canadian fashion, but expert warns: don't do it

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Published Oct. 29, 2019 10:25 a.m. ET
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TORONTO -- An Alberta police officer captured the moment his neighbour used a hockey stick with fishing net attached to rescue a skunk at risk of being squashed on a busy road.

Calgary Police Service Const. Pierre Poitras told that his 13-year-old daughter pointed out the stripy and potentially stinky mammal drinking water in the street.

Poitras said his neighbours feared the animal would be hit by a car and stood close to it, with one even petting the skunk on its head.

“The skunk seemed pretty lethargic, but healthy,” Poitras told via email.

“I was told by the neighbour that the skunk had been living in their yard for a few weeks and that animal services would not deal with relocating it. As we chatted, the neighbour's dad came out with this hockey stick and fishing net contraption.

“As you can see in the video, the skunk was pretty mellow about the move.”

With the skunk netted, it was taken safely across the road and released into nearby Weaselhead park.

“The skunk waddled off into the woods where it was dropped off,” Poitras said.

But Nathalie Karovnen, director of The Toronto Wildlife Centre, told that the neighbour’s actions were “absolutely not the right thing to do.”

She said the animal’s behaviour “usually means there’s something wrong with it” and suggested that the skunk could have canine distemper, a virus which causes sickness and death in a variety of wild mammals.

It is characterized by symptoms including eye and nose discharge, vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, loss of appetite, laboured breathing and/or coughing. Infected wildlife often stumble or are uncoordinated, according to guidance from the Alberta government.

“A wild animal who behaves oddly and allows himself to be captured by slow humans should not just be released,” Karovnen explained.

“He needs medical assessment ASAP. It looks like there is canine distemper in Alberta and there are quite a few wildlife rehabilitators – so I don’t know why the fish and game people (animal services) didn’t refer them to one.”

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