Usually when people see a skunk, they are rushing away from it, not toward it.
Just after 10 a.m. Sunday morning, Michelle Powers, a community services officer for the Firestone Police Department, found herself doing the latter.
Powers received a call from some distressed residents near Fifth Street and Berwick Avenue, who had caught sight of, but fortunately not the scent, of a trapped baby skunk. The animal, which the police department referred to as “Le Pew,” had been trying to escape a dog in a backyard and underestimated the size of a hole in a fence post. Le Pew became lodged between a block retaining wall and a cedar fence, with his head in one yard and body sticking into the other. Neighbors called police, perhaps fearing a stinky retribution for its predicament.
Powers is a nationally certified animal control officer and has worked with wildlife on multiple occasions. Going into the scene, she said she wasn’t scared of getting sprayed and only hoped she could free the creature.
“Any time you are working with unknown animals, whether domestic pets or wildlife, they should have your full respect,” Powers said. “Any animal no matter how docile the person handling it should be prepared for the unpredictable.”
When she reached the trapped skunk, she asked neighbors to provide a towel they didn’t care about.
“Once we had a towel, I asked the neighbor that had the business end of the skunk to slowly drop the towel down behind the skunk’s shoulders and allowing the majority of the towel to be over the tail,” Powers said. “This provided some weight on the tail to prevent the skunk from raising it to spray.”
Using a hammer, Powers carefully pried several nails loose from the fence picket, but despite the grip on the skunk loosening, Le Pew could not yet break free.
Finally, Powers used a pair of pliers to twist the picket slightly. This, at last, allowed the skunk to escape from the clutches of the fence.
Powers emphasized that people who see an animal in trouble should call their local police dispatch or 911 so professional help can be provided.
“Animal control officers have multiple resources and techniques that we can use to help the animal, Powers said. “Colorado Parks and Wildlife set the standards that municipalities throughout the state follow for the care of Colorado’s wild animals. They will come and address major wildlife situations as well as give much needed assistance to wildlife coyote sized and larger.”
Powers added a resource for people who need assistance with animals smaller than a coyote is the Greenwood Wildlife Rehabilitation Center on the west side of Longmont.
Whether it’s a domestic pet concern or an animal like Le Pew, Powers encouraged Firestone residents to reach out to her with their concerns or questions at 720-652-4222.