Letter: A stinky discussion

Posted
Editor of the Reformer:



An open letter to the Brattleboro Town Manager.

Spring is teasing us with sunny skies and hints of warmer breezes. However, it is also rousing the hibernating skunks that have taken over our neighborhoods and this town.

I am writing after waking to the strong scent of skunks coming from my sealed off/closed garage. This family of skunks has resided under my front and back decks for the past three summers. There are other families at at least four of my adjacent neighbors. Not only is the scent disturbing, our pets are regularly in danger of being sprayed unless we are obsessively vigilant every time they go to relieve themselves or we decide to take a leisurely evening stroll around the neighborhood. The potential of a run-in with a skunk takes all the relaxed joy from the walk and often deters us altogether.

In our little corner of the town, we have dug deep to block off digging access (obviously failing), spread coyote urine and PineSol regularly, applied milky spore three times a season on my lawn to deter their interest in harvesting Japanese beetle larvae, kept lights on, and hired a wildlife expert to trap them: one skunk, two opossoms caught two summers ago — about $175 per beast when all was said and (not) done.

Our lovely town has a large skunk infestation and it is ruining our enjoyment of our own yards and neighborhoods.

What will the town do about this? We need a plan? I understand that the town of Bennington hired a wildlife professional to trap and properly release skunks over the past few years. I understand the nuisance factor has greatly decreased.

There must be more fruitful and permanent resolutions to this problem. I know you have many critical issues to deal with -- this one is eating away at my love of this community.

Rebecca Rueter,

Brattleboro, Feb. 28



Ms. Rueter: Thank you for writing to me to express your concerns about skunks in Brattleboro.

I agree (I expect all our neighbors throughout town would agree) that we do have a lot of skunks in Brattleboro and that through sprayings and untimely encounters with cars the skunks do make their presence known. The smell can be very unpleasant. My own dog has been sprayed twice in the three years she's lived here. The inconvenience you describe is very real. Unfortunately, given the variety of challenges facing our community and our limited resources for addressing them, I don't think relocation of skunks will rise to a high enough priority to warrant any significant Town expenditures.

Your experience with the $175 a beast cost to achieve a limited impact speaks to the difficulty in addressing this issue. Hoping that I might learn of a cost-effective approach to addressing this on a community-wide basis, I contacted the town manager in Bennington to inquire about their experience. He advised that the town of Bennington did not engage anyone to reduce the skunk population there. It appears that any such effort there must have been organized privately and without municipal participation or else whoever told you about Bennington was simply misinformed. I will ask other municipal colleagues if any of them know of a cost effective way to reduce the skunk population. If I hear of anything that might be feasible for us here in Brattleboro, I will let you and the Selectboard know what I learn.

I'm sorry not to provide you with a more satisfying response.

Peter Elwell,

Brattleboro Town Manager, Feb. 28






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