The Mystery of the Spotted Skunk

The species of skunk that literally stands on its front paws when threatened is quickly vanishing from its historic range across our central, eastern, and southern states. Known to be good mousers and helpful in controlling insects, the eastern spotted skunk is particularly welcomed on farms.

Eastern spotted skunk

Eastern spotted skunk. Photo by Damon Lesmeister, Research Wildlife Biologist, USDA Forest Service.

But even though these skunks have declined by as much as 90 percent in some parts of their range, there is very little support for local wildlife biologists to find out why. And there is even less assistance for state-led recovery efforts to help animals like spotted skunks recover before they become an endangered species.

Legislation now in Congress can change that.

Please tell your member of Congress to support the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act.

If facing or fleeing a perceived predator, skunks are famously known for releasing a foul-smelling musk in the direction of the threat. Spotted skunks are unique in that they stand on their front paws, balancing with bodies and tails straight up, and sometimes even charge their opponents while upside down!

Solving the Mysterious Decline

Why are eastern spotted skunks declining, while striped skunks are thriving?  With limited dollars and partnerships, state wildlife biologists in Virginia are tracking 11 spotted skunks around den sites in burrows, hollow logs and tree cavities, and following nighttime forays. These wildlife sleuths have also put up trail cameras to collect data.

They are finding that the secretive skunks favor forests thick with vegetation where their broken markings help them hide from predators like great-horned owls.

Are the skunks losing habitat or is there something else going on?

The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act would help us find out and give states the funding needed to take preventative action on behalf of the declining spotted skunk and other species headed toward extinction. Please join us in urging every member of Congress to support this crucial wildlife legislation!

Act Now

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