Unwanted guests sprouting up

CNJ staff photo: Tony Bullocks A skunk at Hillcrest Park Zoo. Marty Martinez, director of the Clovis Animal Shelter, said animal control staff has picked up two skunks in the last few weeks throughout the city, but said there are plenty likely moving throughout the city in stealth.

CNJ staff photo: Tony Bullocks
A skunk at Hillcrest Park Zoo. Marty Martinez, director of the Clovis Animal Shelter, said animal control staff has picked up two skunks in the last few weeks throughout the city, but said there are plenty likely moving throughout the city in stealth.

By Kevin Wilson
CNJ STAFF WRITER
kwilson@cnjonline.com

What does the fox say, nobody truly knows. What does the skunk spray, everybody truly wants to avoid.

The two species have been spotted in the last few weeks around the area, with area officials noting that in most cases the animals are harmless and fear humans more than vice versa.

Marty Martinez, director of Clovis’ animal shelter, said the department has picked up two skunks inside city limits — one on the west side at the former Peavey Grain facility, and another on the east side under a trailer home near Hickory Street and Grand Avenue.

Martinez said skunks are nothing new to Clovis, but the animals are usually pretty good at going undetected by humans and do most of their moving around at night.

“There are foxes all over town, particularly the Colonial Park area,” Martinez said, mostly in reference to ones found climbing trees on and around Colonial Park Golf Course. “With any foxes we do have, we notify Game and Fish immediately.”

Martinez said the best approach is to call either the animal shelter or the police department. Even though the call is forwarded to Game and Fish, Martinez said getting the information helps Animal Control assist and also note the location to see if there are any problem areas.

Additionally, the shelter offers usage of skunk traps. The trap requires a $25 deposit, which Martinez said is refunded upon return of the trap.

Vince Romero, director of the Hillcrest Park Zoo in Clovis, said the zoo will get these animals on rare occasions, whether they sneak in or they’re brought in by animal control officers. Zoo staff will release them around Ned Houk Park — technically city property but six miles away from most residential neighborhoods.

“What’s going on is drought,” Romero said. “It’s dry, and these animals are coming into the city to find something to drink and something to eat.”

It would be virtually impossible to get rid of every possible habitat, because the animal will seek out an abandoned home, the underside of an old car or inside piping — pretty much anywhere with shade and without humans.

“We’ll get a stray once in a while,” Romero said, “and there are usually some that live out near Clovis Concrete. One of my friends worked out there and saw a few.”

Tony Gennaro, a retired animal biology professor at Eastern New Mexico University, said he’d have to look at more data to know what role drought plays. But he sees other causes for many species of animals entering municipal areas — abundant food sources with publicly — and privately — maintained grass and other vegetation, the lack of a natural predator in urban areas and a shrinking natural habitat.

“The one thing I know and feel very certain about is the movement of us into their areas,” said Gennaro, a Raton native. “You go out on these highways from here to Clovis and you see homes where you’d never seen them before. In Raton, we see them building cabins and homes. That, in turn, pushes them to where we are.”

Martinez advises not leaving extra pet food out, as it may attract an unintended guest. In most cases, everybody involved said the animal is most likely to run rather than engage a person.