Paul's Internet Landfill/ 2016/ Poor Skunk

Poor Skunk

Today I had an appointment in Waterloo. When I got to the building there was a skunk sniffing around in front of the door. Seeing a skunk in an urban concrete space is surprising enough. Seeing one when the sun is shining is even rarer.

I did not know why the skunk was awake or what it was sniffing around for, but I did not want to upset it so I kept my distance until it turned a corner. Then I went to my appointment.

About a half hour later the room started to smell of skunk. Some people said that a car had hit a skunk in the parking lot.

My heart broke. Supposedly the skunk had sprayed and then ran after being hit, but skunks that are hit by cars don't live long. My heart broke further when people in the room started laughing and making jokes about the skunk. One person joked that the room smelled like skunk and burnt rubber. Nobody seemed overly concerned that a skunk had just lost its life. My guess is that the commentary would have been different if a stray dog had been hit instead.

Skunks are not my favourite animal. I get nervous around them. I do not want to be sprayed and I do not want them in my house. They can live under porches if they want so long as they aren't smelly about it. But I am kind of glad that skunks (and raccoons, and squirrels) have found ways to coexist with humans in urban spaces. We feel great antipathy towards any undomesticated animal that lives among us. I understand that sentiment -- I feel that way about cockroaches and bedbugs -- but I also want to live and let live. I do not want these neighbours to suffer needlessly, but this poor skunk suffered a needless and violent death because of a car.

I knew it was unusual to see a skunk during the day. For all I know the skunk may have been disoriented or sick or even rabid. But these are just rationalizations. I should have known enough to understand that the poor skunk was in mortal danger. But I do not know how I would have acted differently. I do not know how to handle skunks. Maybe I should have called Animal Control. Other than that I do not know what I should have done. I wish I knew how to prevent the skunk from dying half an hour after I saw it.

The skunk was at the wrong place at the wrong time, but as far as I know it was not doing anybody any harm. It was just trying to live its life. I do not feel that it deserved to die a violent death for being a skunk, and I do not feel good that its death was treated as frivolous. If that makes me a wuss so be it.