Animal advocates are celebrating a victory for skunks in Windsor, Ontario with a vote from the City Council to end the city’s cruel and controversial skunk trapping program.
Residents and animal advocacy organizations, including the Windsor-Essex County Humane Society and the Association for the Protection of Fur-Bearing Animals (APFA), have strongly opposed the program from the beginning. They, and others, argued that it would be wasteful and ineffective because it doesn’t get to the root of the problem, which is the availability of food and shelter that draws skunks to urban areas in the first place. They also argued that removing animals would only open up space for more to come in.
Despite offers to develop humane alternatives from animal advocacy organizations, last year the city allocated $250,000 for a pilot program that involved trapping and killing all unwanted skunks. However, a report by the Environmental Services Department that was finally presented at a meeting earlier this month showed that the program turned out to be the failure animal advocates predicted it would be.
According to the report, there wasn’t much interest from homeowners and in the end nature can be credited for reducing the number of skunks. It concluded that “continuing the program is likely to have no significant impact on the existing population and is not likely to prevent a population spike in the future.”
In total 48 skunks were trapped and killed, while 102 other non-target animals were caught in traps and released. Thankfully, this week the City Council voted to scrap the program entirely for good.
“We’re happy that the program has been terminated after only one year, and hopefully this will put the issue to rest,” said Melanie Coulter, director of the Windsor-Essex County Humane Society.
Animal advocates are still encouraging people to make adjustments to their properties to make them undesirable homes for skunks who might take up residence and to stop feeding pets outside, or clean up right after if they do.
“We said last year that this program stinks. And after wasted money, time and the growing stack of evidence against human intervention, it’s been proven,” said Lesley Fox, Executive Director of APFA. “It’s time for the City of Windsor to act responsibly and take action where it’s needed: education and mitigation of irresponsible homeowners.”
“Our offer to assist in developing a co-existence strategy still stands. We want the taxpayers of Windsor – as well as the wildlife who calls the city home – to live happily and safely.”
Meanwhile, the city will continue with the education component of its program has also amended a law to require residents to store their trash in hard-sided containers, which it hopes will remove an available food source and prevent further conflicts with skunks and other wild animals who have been dining on trash.
Photo credit: Thinkstock