A rare spotted skunk, thought to be extinct locally, has turned up in West Vancouver - with his paw caught in a rat trap.
A Ross Crescent resident found the critter dragging the trap through her property last week and called for help.
"It's really exciting to see something we didn't know was around - a little upsetting these are the circumstances," said Yolanda Brooks, spokeswoman for the Wildlife Rescue Association, which is now caring for the animal.
While they are more common in the Interior, spotted skunks haven't been seen in the Lower Mainland since the 1980s, Brooks said.
Unlike the more common striped skunk, spotted skunks are smaller and do a handstand before spraying their noxious scent. Asked if spotted ones smell every bit is bad as their striped cousins, Brooks said they smell even worse.
"He does pack a powerful stench when he goes off, but we pretty much got used to him now and we know how to handle him and we haven't had too many spraying incidents," she said.
WRA staff will treat the nameless skunk's wounded paw until he's ready to be released in another month or so. After that, he stands a very good chance of thriving and possibly even mating, Brooks said.
"Now that we know that there's one, there has to be more. That's quite exciting," she said.
"Maybe next spring he'll find a mate and the spotted skunk population will increase.. .. When wildlife returns, something must be going right."
Brooks said the trap that snagged the skunk was likely left out to catch a rat, but the same traps are known for catching other mammals including neighbourhood cats and even owls.
"You can catch a lot more than you bargained for and it doesn't kill them outright, it just leaves them to suffer from starvation or exposure," she said.
Residents hoping to catch rats would be better off calling a humane pest control company, Brooks added.
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