Sunday, July 13, 2008

Counting Our Skunk Blessings

skunk under bird feeder

Skunks drop by the house pretty regularly in warm weather. They like sunflower seeds, the compost pile, and grubs, and sometimes they spend a day or two under our house, where we hope they never hit their little heads on the floor joists. Apparently, we're lucky to have plentiful skunks here on Droop Mountain. No Skunks in Arlington Isn't Good News for Humans appeared in the Washington Post Sunday, May 11, 2008. (I have quite a backlog of unfinished weblog posts, even though school's been out for over a month now.)

...Skunks, known far and wide for their stinky spray, can survive in urban areas on garbage, bugs and pet food. But for years, no one has seen a skunk in Arlington. And Zell, a county naturalist, fears that they might be gone for good.

"We're 40 percent paved over, so there's not much nature left," he said, shrugging. With a growing population of 200,000, the 26-square-mile county might be reaching a "critical mass" of dense urban landscape, he said, where even the hardiest wild survivors, such as skunks, can no longer make it.

White skunk eating sunflower seeds

I lived in Arlington over 20 years ago, and at the time, I was amazed by how much wildlife you could see in the odd little overgrown corners. 40% paved? No skunks at all? Perhaps my migration outward sprang from the same impulse that moved the skunks. I'd like to think I have sense equivalent to a skunk, but I may flatter myself.

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