A New Reason To Hold Your Nose If You Go To Pierre

Skunks.

They scare me.

Ever since I was a child, they held a mythical place in my brain’s fear receptacles.

They spray! They stink! They bite! What if they fly, too!? Ahhh!

I  still remember a vivid dream I had when I was young in which people, my parents included, were half-human/half-skunk creatures with large black and white tails a la Pepe le Pew.

It was a little bit traumatizing. The next morning, when I came out for breakfast, I had to check to make sure Mom and Dad didn’t have tails.

I’ve had a few close encounters with actual skunks in my adult life.

As I was walking along the Auld-Brokaw Trail in Yankton a couple of years ago, a skunk casually crossed the path about five feet in front of me. Luckily, my furry friend didn’t even seem to notice the strange statue off to his side with a throbbing, life-like heart, aka ME.

The second time, funnily enough, was also along the Auld-Brokaw Trail. I noticed a creature that was scurrying along a fence and was coming my direction. Then it stopped and stared. I noticed the tail and started mapping out escape routes in my mind. Fortunately, the skunk must have been doing the same thing because it turned around and ran away.

What can I say, I’m a formidable opponent.

So, I should probably get around to this Pierre matter mentioned what must now seem like eons ago in the title of this post.

Turns out they are having skunk problems. The situation reeks so bad that the Los Angeles Times has picked up on the story.

I guess South Dakota has to make a big stink to make the Los Angeles Times.

I’ve read about a couple skunk encounters in Yankton this summer via the police logs, but nothing on the scale Pierre is facing.

The story by John M. Glionna begins:

Residents of South Dakota’s state capital are holding their noses this fall and it has nothing to do with politics.

The city of Pierre is being invaded by skunks.

Animal control officials say that 60 of the furry little stinkers have been caught since June and in a town of 15,000. That translates to one possible skunk encounter for every 250 residents.

But there’s an even worse danger: skunks are often rabid.

“Skunks are the reservoir of rabies out here on the Great Plains,” South Dakota state epidemiologist Lon Kightlinger told the Los Angeles Times. “Skunks actually present a two-fold menace. Rabies is the biggest danger. Then the spraying. Oh, and they bite, too.”

So far this year, 45 rabid animals have been caught in South Dakota, 25 of them skunks. Though the state has not had a case of rabies since 1970, officials remain vigilant.

Read the rest of the story here.

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