Some North Vancouver residents are calling for change after rescuing a skunk that survived a month or more with its head stuck in an ice-cream lid.
Mira and Bryan O’Connor and their neighbours around the Safeway at Lynn Valley Centre began spotting the small skunk hobbling about with its head stuck through a domed lid in August.
“We would see this little poor thing, struggling,” said Mira. “We could actually see the wounds open.”
They sought the help of the Critter Care Wildlife Society, a Langley-based non-profit that rescues animals in need. But it wasn’t until Friday (Sept. 17) night that a volunteer was available to help them when the skunk turned up again – this time with its front paw now caught in the lid as well.
Amazingly, they got the skunk into a net and then wrapped it in a blanket without anyone being sprayed, Bryan said.
“You could smell a little bit of it in the air, but it was almost nothing,” he said.
In any case, they were far more concerned about the well-being of the animal than they were any aromatic reprisal.
“I know a lot of people are very fearful of getting sprayed, because that smell can last a few days,” he said. “Skunks are pretty harmless in B.C.”
The skunk was in terrible shape. It was rail thin and the month-old wound had necrosis and maggots. Volunteer Cathy Kenning drove the skunk to Critter Care in Langley, where staff were able to give her the medical attention she needed.
“We got the news. She’s good. They sedated her. They cleaned out the wound. They put a dressing on it,” Mira said. “They’re taking care of her, and she likes chicken. We were all so happy, like beyond belief.”
Bryan said the skunk’s plight highlights the collateral damage that comes from littering.
“When you dispose of garbage like that, other animals suffer for it,” he said.
Domed lids are especially problematic, the O’Connors said.
“Their head goes through the hole and then they can’t get out,” Mira said. “Once they’re stuck in this horribly stiff, hard plastic. That’s it. … It’s so hard, it cuts into their body.”
Mira said anyone disposing of a domed lid should, at the very least, first remove it from the cup and cut through the sides, similar to what people often do with six-pack rings.
But with single-use plastics like straws and shopping bags gradually being regulated out of the marketplace in many jurisdictions, the O’Connors say there’s no reason why such potentially harmful lids need to stay.
Not everyone loves skunks, the O’Connors conceded, but they are part of the urban wildlife and deserving of our help,
“We never want to see any creature suffer. We’ve got to all share this space,” she said.
Everyone in the neighbourhood is now grateful for Critter Care’s assistance, they added.
“It’s just so amazing that there are people there to help,” Mira said, holding back tears.