The southeast Calgary community of McKenzie Towne appears to be a skunk hotspot.
On June 24, community members found four baby orphan skunks which are now in the hands of the Alberta Institute for Wildlife Conservation (AIWC).
According to AIWC’s executive director Holly Lillie, the orphan skunks were left alone after their mother was relocated.
“They will be raised by us until they are old enough to be released back into the wild,” said Lillie.
The organization currently has 20 skunks under its care.
According to Lillie, there isn’t a certain time of how long the skunks will be in the care of the AIWC, as it takes each animal a different time to reach the point of being able to be returned to the wild.
AIWC, as a provincially accredited veterinary hospital, is able to provide care to wildlife. The conservation organization has admitted more than 34,000 animals into its care since 1993.
“We try to return them to where they were found,” said Lillie.
“If that’s not possible for any situation, then we find a habitat that will support the species so that there’s good food and shelter for them,” she said.
Skunks have an unwarranted bad reputation
Skunks are a natural part of Alberta’s ecosystem. According to Lillie, they play a crucial role in the ecosystem.
Skunks have a bad reputation for their smelly spray, but actually reduce pests. They prey on rodents and insects that can cause significant damage to homes.
“They’re welcome neighbours, primarily nocturnal. Skunks are great pest controllers, and they’ll keep rodent and insect populations in check in your area,” she said.
Lillie urges any Calgarian who finds a wild animal in need in their area to call AIWC.
The City of Calgary said on their wildlife concerns website, that if people don’t want to see wild animals in their backyard, then they should “make sure they’re doing their part.”
“Please let nature be wild, and refrain from approaching or feeding wild animals,” wrote the city.
“Secure garbage and pet food, and eliminate other potential food sources such as pet waste, that may attract wildlife. If you have bird feeders in your yard, please keep them and the area underneath clean.”
More information on the work that AIWC does is available on their website.