A Close Encounter of the Wildlife Kind

IMG_5017How do get a jar off a skunk’s head?

Yes, that’s right. Very, very carefully.

I looked out the window yesterday morning at about 6:30 and saw a skunk in the yard. No big deal—we see skunks regularly.

But then I took another look. This particular skunk had an empty plastic mayonnaise jar stuck completely over its head!

I don’t care how you feel about skunks, it’s awful to see an animal in distress, to know it’s going to die. This poor critter was wandering around the yard, it couldn’t see, just trying to walk its way out of its predicament.

I stood there, feeling horrible. I didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t just walk up to a skunk and grab its head, could I? I’d have to live outside for weeks or bathe in tomato juice!

The skunk wandered away and I told myself it had left the yard and, even if I wanted to, I couldn’t help it because I didn’t know where it had gone.

But when I looked again, there it was, bumbling around the yard. It hadn’t left and it was never going to leave because every time it hit the jar against anything it would turn around and go another direction. And it wasn’t going to get through our cedar hedges, and off our property, without hitting its head.

All I could think of was having to watch this poor thing wander around and get increasingly frantic all day and, ultimately, watch it die of hunger or thirst right there in my line of vision.

I finally ventured out. The skunk was walking in a straight line until it ran into something. I figured if I stood in its path, it would walk right up to me.

And I’d be on the end without the scent glands, right? What’s the worst thing that could happen to me?


So there I stood. The skunk waddled right toward me. I bent down and took hold of the jar . . .

And it slipped out of my grasp! I had the jar right in my hands but hadn’t expected it to be so tight on the skunk’s head. I’d lost my chance!

The skunk jumped back but . . . didn’t spray. Skunks don’t really want to spray because once they’ve used their ammo, so to speak, it takes awhile for them to reload. They save the big guns for the super scary stuff, and I didn’t qualify . . . yet.

So, I tried again.

The skunk walked toward me.

I moved slowly and quietly.

I grabbed the jar firmly and pulled hard.

And, pop!

The skunk’s head came out!

We made sustained eye contact for a moment, wide eyed, and then we both turned and ran.

The skunk stopped, turned around, and went into all its warning gyrations—all the things they do before they spray. It stomped its feet. It raised its tail high. It pretty much stood on its head to make the threat seem big and scary and real.

But it never sprayed.

It ran under our porch and stayed for a few minutes and then I saw it walk, in its normal slow, swaggering way, off into the sunrise. It got out of danger without ever firing a shot.

My hands have stopped shaking, my heart rate is back to normal, and I’m glad to report that we both live happily ever after.