Favorite Travel Quotes

"Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts."
-- Mark Twain
Innocents Abroad

"Stop worrying about the potholes in the road and celebrate the journey." -- Fitzhugh Mullan

"A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving." -- Lao Tzu

Three Baby Skunks Venture into the Big World

Baby Skunk Stomping Feet

Baby skunk stomping feet

©Bert Gildart: The young of all creatures are generally adorable, and that is certainly true of three baby skunks I saw this evening while riding my bike near home, about 30 miles south of Glacier National Park. Off in the bushes near a small creek known as Rose Creek, three tiny striped skunks emerged from the bushes.

Their first reaction was one of curiosity, and though I was nervous as they moved my way, I too was curious. Closer and closer they moved until one was almost standing on my feet. Suddenly it sensed something might not be quite right, so it backed off, puffed itself up and stomped its feet, a normal response when afraid. Believing this might be a good photo opportunity, I quickly peddled back home, got Janie, got camera equipment, and together we returned in our old work truck—not the good one that pulls our Airstream, and that we certainly would not want sprayed.

Because I am so fascinated with wildlife, years ago I convinced the Glacier Natural History Association they needed a mammal book, and they concurred. Here are a few paragraphs from it.

Of the four species of skunks in North America, only the striped skunk is seen locally. As skunks are nocturnal, they are not commonly seen in Glacier or Waterton. They can, however, make their presence known, for when they are disturbed or provoked, they discharge a strong smelling fluid from scent glands located beneath their tails. Occasionally local populations increase significantly, and they have to be live-trapped from buildings and then relocated. Over 40 were removed from one of Waterton’s campgrounds, and in 1974 more than 50 were removed from Apgar Campground in Glacier Park.

Before discharging the scent, as a warning, one of these “polecats” may stamp its front feet, but should its tail snap up, intruder beware! Some skunks can be accurate to 20 feet and they can spray from just about any angle.

Despite their defensive mechanism, skunks are sometimes preyed upon by coyotes or bobcats, especially during hard times. Owls—in particular, the great-horned owl—seem to be immune to these offensive odors and often prey upon skunks.Normally skunks sleep in dens during the day and do most of their hunting for insects, rodents, frogs, and snakes at night. They are not true hibernators, but during a cold spell may take long naps…

Two curious baby skunks

Curious baby skunks

Janie and I spent an hour photographing the three baby skunks, and again they approached us, this time almost stepping on Janie’s feet. Rather than babies, however, they reminded us of teenagers, testing their way into adulthood with bluff and bluster. Again, they stomped their feet, but they never raised their tail in a way that concerned us.

Eventually, they crawled back into a log, and there they remained, for we didn’t see them again. Not everyone appreciates skunks—so we hope they remain well out of sight. We left, wishing them a good life—and a long one.

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