If you smell something strange in Chinook, it’s not because of calving season. Chinook’s got skunk trouble.
At Monday night’s Chinook City Council meeting, Police Chief Mark Weber told council members that one of the biggest problems he’s been dealing with recently is the large number of skunk strikes.
Weber said they had reports of pets being sprayed in people’s yards. He speculated that this year’s unnaturally mild winter failed to kill off as many as usual.
Weber expressed concern about what to do about them, other than what they’re already doing.
He said they had placed traps around town, but those just caught cats, “nine out of 10 times, ” that officers need to go around to release.
Once a skunk is in the cage, Weber said he or another officer can shoot it, which can cause them to spray one more time, but at least it’s their last.
The reason the skunks come into town is to eat the food of cats or dogs that are fed outside. If pet owners keep their food inside, the skunks will have no reason to stick around, Weber said.
More people need to move food indoors, Weber said, before the problem gets worse.
“We need a way to start taking care of them before we get a rabies problem, ” Weber said. “We’ve had to quarantine for them before. ”
Aside from rabies, Weber said he wanted to avoid another situation like last summer, when a skunk got trapped in a resident’s basement. The only way they could get it out was to put in a “handi-ramp” and wait until the skunk left on its own.
Gordon Inabnit, Havre’s animal control officer, said this morning that he has received calls about skunks, but not any more than any other year.
Inabnit reiterated the point about leaving food outside. If people don’t do it, the skunks will not come.
How to handle skunks
• Don’t feed pets outside. Pet food attracts skunks.
• If you see a skunk, call your local police department, or Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks:
• Havre Police Department, 265-4361
• Havre Fish, Wildlife and Parks Office, 265-6177
• Chinook Police Department, 357-3170