Tuesday, March 19, 2013


photos by Jonathan Schechter

The waning day of winter and the dawn of spring means one thing: Night woods belong to the 
eastern striped skunk! A few days ago I hiked in the Hawk Woods Nature Center in Oakland County 
and was delighted with the new trailside  nature interpretive signage.  
"Chemical Warfare" caught my eye; a well worded sign about habits of skunks. 
But what really caught my attention were tracks less than ten feet from the sign!

 To the casual hiker the tracks may appear to mean nothing; but to a naturalist or skilled outdoor
 observer  those tracks told a tale.  A skunk had waddled across the landscape the night before  in its 
 typical  pattern leaving alternately paced oval prints partially obscured by the drag marks of the belly.
And where did the tracks end?
They ended under the boardwalk next to the sign; a den site most likely.

 As this photo from last summer shows skunks are usually mild tempered.  A skunk set up house 
keeping within my old barn and even during forced-relocation via a live trap it did not spray.  A word of
 caution is in order: If a skunk is encountered and rapidly stomps the ground you have been warned.
And when it spins about and raises its tail it is too late!
You know how that tale of woes ends: 


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