Windsor’s skunk program an epic failure – like we predicted

One year ago, the City of Windsor, Ontario, announced it would manage the apparent climb in the local skunk population with a lethal program. Residents would be able to contact the city, who would use live traps to catch and euthanize skunks.

One year ago, we said it would fail. We said it would prove unsuccessful at managing the skunk population and that co-existence strategies would generate greater change.

One year later, we are right.

The City’s environmental services department released a report, to be read at Council on June 21 (and yes, we’ll be there), which outlines the faults of the program.

“It is clear from the data presented that the City of Windsor’s trapping program had little effect on the skunk population,” the report offers. “The significant decrease in population can most appropriately be attributed to natural regulation such as disease and resource limitations.”

In short: nature regulated itself.

We estimate, based on the available numbers, that more than $100,000 was spent on this program. The results? Forty-eight skunks were trapped and euthanized. One hundred and two other animals – including squirrels, raccoons, opossums and domestic cats were caught and released – a ratio greater than 2:1 for trapping target species.

“The continuation of the trapping program is likely to have no significant impact on the existing population and is not likely to prevention a population spike in the future,” the report concludes.

This is a living example of why we offer our assistance to municipalities. Culling, or even selective trapping and euthanasia, is not effective. It does not address the underlying problems (hard-sided garbage containers will have a great impact, which the City of Windsor has initiated) which actually led to the conflict situation.

We will continue to offer assistance to the City of Windsor. We can only hope that, in the face of this failure, they will seek scientific, sustainable solutions in the future.

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