Dumpster drain holes hurt skunks

You likely haven’t paid much attention to dumpsters, but you should. The drain hole on the bottom corner of a dumpster can catch and kill curious fur-bearing animals like skunks.

A skunk’s jaw is shaped like a cone so they can easily slip into a hole, but often they can’t slip out. If she or he gets stuck too long, their jaw can become swollen and they can become permanently stuck. Dehydration, starvation and stress can cause more trauma or even death.

If you see a trapped skunk, please contact your local wildlife rehabilation centre or local SPCA/humane society.

In some cases, with enough sedation and lubrication a skunk can be pulled/pushed out of the hole. Failing that, the surrounding metal will have to be cut to free the skunk, which can take hours.

All of this trauma is preventable. Dumpsters are made to come with drain hole plugs, but they are rarely used.

What you can do help skunks:

1. Call and complain if you see a dumpster hole. If you see an open drain hole on the side of a dumpster, call the company (their phone number is always on the side of the dumpster). Give the company the location of the dumpster and tell them to plug the hole. In the meantime, block the hole yourself using duck tape or by stuffing cardboard or other material into the hole.

2. Find out if your municipality has a bylaw on the books regarding dumpster drains. Report offending dumpster companies to a bylaw officer. If there are no local bylaws, ask your city councilor to adopt one.

3. Don’t litter. Always cut up plastic dome lids and plastic 6-pack lids. Rinse your food tins well and pinch the top of the tins so the rims are touching and the hole is closed.

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Photo: Skunk trapped in drainage hole. North Vancouver, BC. 2012.
Special thanks to Marcy Potter and the volunteers from the BC Wildlife Rehabilitation centre for rescuing this skunk.

Photos: Dumpster holes can be sealed with duct tape (see below – the bottom front right hand corner).

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The Fur-Bearers is a national non-profit based in Vancouver. It was formed in 1953 and advocates on behalf of fur-bearing animals in the wild and in confinement, and promotes co-existence with wildlife. More about our history and campaigns can be found at thefurbearers.com.

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