Apr 25, 2015

Skunk caught in covered trap

By Rebecca Dmytryk

This morning, we were contacted by UC Santa Cruz Police about a skunk with a paw caught in a trap. 

We thought it would be a Trapper T-Rex, one of those newer, heavy plastic snap traps that have interlocking jaws - powerful and deadly to rodents and dangerous to other animals. From the description, however, it sounded like the skunk might have reached into a plastic bait box meant to cover are conceal a trap.

Duane and I responded to the location immediately. There, under the porch of the Carriage House we found the skunk, tucked back against the building, trembling. At first, we could't tell what was on its front paw.

Duane used poles to move the skunk out from under the deck where I could net it. We draped a dark sheet over the animal to calm it and allow us to approach and get a good hold of it without getting sprayed.

I needed to have a really good hold of the head, so, while it goes against normal protocol, I doffed the thick leather gloves and gathered its scruff with a bare hand for a much securer, no-slip grip. Again, this goes against protocol and should not be attempted by anyone without a tremendous amount of handling experience and rabies prophylaxis. 

Once I had the skunk well-restrained, Duane went to work on opening the box and freeing the skunk's paw. It was quite an ordeal and took some time, but we finally got the animal freed. 

The skunk was placed into a padded carrier and transported to Native Animal Rescue's skunk expert, Monique, in Corralitos. We await word on its prognosis. 

Check out the video. Missing money shot due to camera user error! That would be me : (

Looking into the box where the skunk reached in and was caught by the jaws of the trap.

The T-Rex brand of snap trap exudes bone-crushing pressure meant to kill rodents swiftly. For larger animals, these traps can cause severe injuries. We know of many skunks that have lost digits. Some have lost their entire paw. One skunk lost its nose to a Trapper T-Rex.

The trap itself is not the problem, though, it's misuse by the consumer. We believe clearer labeling is needed to better ensure the traps are not placed where other animals have access to them!

Last September, I contacted Bell Laboratories and spoke with Vice President of Sales and Business Development Mark Westover. At that time, he indicated a willingness to look into adding language to the T-Rex and Mini-Rex product instructions to help reduce non-target wildlife injuries. 

With the cover off, you can see the trap is set, and how an animal can reach it through the hole on the side.

As for the "prtotective" box, we now know these boxes meant to protect other animals (and children) from reaching the trap, are ineffective - at least this brand by Liphatech.

Perhaps it's time to petition both companies to make the necessary changes to protect our wildlife.

Stay tuned!

UPDATE: 4-27-15

The skunk's paw was not badly damaged. Monique suspected the female skunk might be a mother - it was important for her to get back back home, soon. This evening, Duane released her right back where she'd been rescued. She definitely knew where she was and took off!

1 comment:

Chris OBanion said...

Very sad story! On the bright side at least the skunk was OK, hopefully she was able to find her family.