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Wildcats with racing stripes are causing havoc in Linden

Oct. 21, 2012 at 11 p.m.

Wildcats with racing stripes are causing havoc in Linden and offending residents with their foul odors.

Alderman Richard Bowden during last week's council meeting reported his firsthand experience of the problem when his dog was sprayed by a skunk last week. His dog bolted into the house and under the bed where he proceeded to smell up the house in a fruitless effort of trying to roll the odor off under the bed.

Alderman Chuck Evans reported he sees four or five skunks almost daily when his wife and he go for a walk.

In a meeting last week with Mayor Clarence Burns, Chief of Police Alton McWaters and Sgt. Doug Glover discussed what the city is doing and how residents can help them to combat this growing problem.

McWaters is asking citizens to call the department when they spot a skunk in town. An officer will be sent to the scene to kill it. The caller is advised to keep a safe distance from the skunk but to maintain sight so the officer can locate the skunk when he arrives.

Glover said citizens can use a pellet gun to kill a skunk if it is posing an immediate danger or threat to someone but he would prefer they would allow the department to handle the situation.

To properly dispose of the skunk, double bag it in a trash bag and place it in a trash receptacle to be picked up, or bury it. If it will be a few days before trash pick-up, call the city for disposal.

Glover says the quicker the skunk is bagged after it is killed the less offensive the odor.

The police department has been working with the city to eradicate skunks in areas. The problem is skunks like staying in drainage pipes and open sewer drains. They are attracted to food sources.

Skunks are not only a stinky problem but they are known for carrying rabies. Glover said skunks also get distemper and the signs are similar to rabies and are often confused with rabies.

Glover said it is not uncommon to see skunks out during the day and if seen during daytime hours it doesn't necessarily mean they have rabies.

Skunks can and will bite. According to the Texas Department of Health, skunks are the primary carriers of rabies in Texas and account for 73 percent of the reported cases. Be especially wary of "friendly" skunks, since one of the characteristics of rabies in wildlife is a loss of fear of humans.

Glover advises citizens if they see a skunk to remain calm; a skunk will not spray unless they sense a threat. A skunk will spray immediately if surprised or threatened. Leave the animal alone.

If you happen to meet a skunk, stand as still as possible for a few minutes. As soon as the animal feels you are no threat, it will go about its business, and you can quietly slip away without being sprayed.

Glover said while camping once, a skunk walked right under his wife's chair between her legs and through their camp site, then left. He said they remained calm, never moved and didn't get sprayed.

Glover said he has been sprayed numerous times through the years and the best thing he has found to reduce the odor is to bathe in a little bleach and Dawn dish liquid. He said Dawn helps break down the musk oil better than anything else.

Burns said tomato paste has always worked the best for him. He has several dogs that have been sprayed at one time or the other. He said cover the animal in tomato paste, not juice, it doesn't work as well, and let it soak in then wash it out.

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department's Web site states there are many home remedies to remove skunk smell, but apple cider vinegar seems to be the most effective. Rub it directly on the sprayed area before bathing, and soak your clothes in it before washing them.

Glover said research shows the best way to deter skunks and other wildlife from your property is to set out moth balls around the perimeter of your property. The crystals work the best; just place inside some old nylons or mesh and hang close to the ground. Burns advises not to put moth balls out just before a heavy rain because they will just wash away.

Glover said all wildlife is more active in the fall and the spring due to mating season. He said it is not uncommon this time of year to see more snakes, which eat mice.

He said within Linden there are three breeding families of red fox, gray fox, and wildcats that he knows of.

He said through the years he has seen on several occasions skunks and cats playing together.

Wildlife are attracted to food left out for pets and open garbage. He said the best defense is to eliminate food sources around your property.

According to Texas Parks and Wildlife, three types of skunks live in East Texas: the hog-nosed skunk, spotted skunk and the striped skunk.

Studies show that at least half of a skunk's year-round diet is insects and grubs. Bees and wasps, as well as their larvae, honey, and nests, also are favorite items on the menu. Mice and other rodents fill in one-fourth of the diet, and vegetable matter one-tenth. A mixture of spiders, reptiles, amphibians, birds and their eggs, millipedes, and centipedes rounds out the menu.

Each female gives birth to between two and 10 young each year.



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