Let’s start with the skunks

Let’s start with the skunks

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To the Editor:

Living on Martha’s Vineyard, most people here don’t generally look with that much envy on the next atoll over, Nantucket, unless maybe if you’re into Kerry-watching, prices at least as high as on the Cote d’Azur, and spring seasons where it’s colder even than here.

But they have one enviable aspect we don’t, a lack of skunks. The letter last week about the prolific (deer) tick problem mentions skunks, but only as predators of important tick eaters, the ground-dwelling birds. Without getting scientific about it, we have a skunk problem here, and it’s not limited to them chowing down on bird eggs.

Since skunks are unchallenged except by cars (and inexperienced dogs), they’re everywhere, tearing up lawns for grubs to eat and smelling up neighborhoods, turning backyard refuse stowage into mini-dumps (which the other over-profuse local pest, crows, then get into to scatter even more), wandering in front of vehicles, only to go off like a stink bomb if hit. You know the deal.

Ecologically, they serve no clear positive function in this ecosystem at all, despite some people’s odd view of them as being cute. So, has there ever been a concerted effort to eliminate, or at least greatly reduce, the local skunks? If not, why not?

It seems that any serious effort to control deer ticks would justify doing everything possible to encourage natural controls, and an unmolested population of ground-nesting birds might be the best one of all.

You can’t count on a hot, dry summer to do the “tick trick” most of the time, but restoring nature’s balance by eliminating the skunk overpopulation seems like a good place to start.

Geoff Allan