So there I was, hanging out with our raven, Korppi. We were working on her new training exercises where I ask her to pick up a pencil and jab it down onto a piece of paper, with the intention of building up to free drawing over time. Enrichment like this is critical to keeping her raven mind active and entertained.
The training went like any other day. I was in her aviary for about twenty minutes, no surprises. It wasn’t until I was saying goodbye to Korppi with a few treats that I heard the faintest scrounging noise coming from her ground house. I turned my head to find a skunk rooting around in there, feet from where I had been crouching!
Upon reflection, I probably did not have the wisest reaction to seeing this animal. Being the wildlife naturalist I am, I rushed over with my phone and took a few pictures, the excitement of this rare encounter having blocked all other instincts.
When I took these pictures I had no idea just how rare seeing a skunk in these woods actually was. As it turns out, this was the first skunk seen by any of our staff in these woods, despite years of trail camera observations. Anecdotally, people who lived their whole lives in these woods have only seen their first skunk in the past few years, if ever.
As soon as I got my photo evidence I raced to our nearby office, shouting “Skunk! Come outside now!” They couldn’t believe it as we all raced outside to check it out, but alas the skunk was nowhere to be seen. I was *ahem* the Wolf Ridge boy who cried skunk.
Upon further investigation we found some small tracks in the snow coming from the backside of Korppi‘s aviary, along with a lovely patch of pure skunk stink left in their wake. Imagine burnt rubber. It seemed the skunk had escaped the way it came, having squeezed its narrow body through the 2″x4″ grating that lined Korppi‘s home. The skunk is now back in the wilds, and thankfully, both Korppi and I smell great.
By Alex Kelley, Wolf Ridge Naturalist