Monday, January 21, 2013

Mephitis Mephitis

Yesterday we were heading into the Park for a ski, when lo! my day was made by a special wildlife sighting. Naturally I have seen a savage number of poor roadkill skunks over the years, and even the sad and smelly remains of some in Yellowstone wolf scat, but surprisingly, I've only ever seen one live individual in the wild. Until yesterday... when we saw this little duffer loping over snowdrifts between lake shore and road.

Le Pew
My first thought, well, it wasn't so much a cohesive thought so much as a bombastic emotional reaction/squeal of pure glee, was look! A skunk! A skunk! So fuzzy! Look! Look! That bushy tail! Skunk! My second thought was more akin to, Must. Get. Out. Of. Truck. Must. Get. Close. To. That. Fuzzy. And soon enough I was out of the vehicle, jogging along next to the skunk for a few hundred meters, grinning in breathless delight. Some of you may question my judgement, but let me remind you that while they see and hear quite nicely, skunks have pretty terrible eyesight, and the little guy could barely see me. (This poor vision is partially to blame for all those fatal automobile encounters.)

Just look at those little pink slippers!
My third thought was that Walt Disney is a liar. Remember in Bambi, when Flower gets all sleepy and goes into hibernation for the winter? Yeah, well, that just wasn't jiving with Mr. Bushypants here. Striped skunks don't actually hibernate. They go into a state of torpor--a generally inactive, denned up period of rest, though they may come above ground a couple of times to poke around and empty their scent glands. Also, Walt, deer don't get twitterpated in spring, okay. They mate in the fall. Do your homework.

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