Wondrous Wildlife
By Vern and Lori Gieger

     Our love affair with wildlife began some 20 years ago, and started with an ad on the radio. Our local humane society and Dept. of Natural Resources were looking for people to rehabilitate wildlife. Remembering stories my father told me about “Jenny,” one of his childhood companions, I was intrigued. After a discussion with my husband, Vern, we decided to give them a call. A few days after finishing our training, three baby raccoons arrived. Looking into those tiny eyes, as they grasped a finger with their paws, we realized how innocent and helpless they were, and how much they needed “human help” for their very survival. We were hooked! This is what we wanted to do. Here’s to you Jenny!

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Pepe Le Pewww!

     Ah, what beautiful evening, a great time to sit back and relax, taking the time to smell the — well, it’s not the roses! We have all smelt that unmistakable odor! It reminds us that we are not alone. That a small, black and white critter is lurking near by. That smell also tells us that some unsuspecting intruder got just a little too close. And will probably be sleeping “outside” tonight.
     Skunks live only in North America. There are four species of skunks. They occupy a variety of habitats including forests, cultivated farmland, and even suburban neighborhoods. Having adapted well to neighborhoods, it’s not uncommon to find skunks and domestic cats dining peacefully together. They tend to be quite tolerant of humans and other animals and can often be approached quite closely. There have been cases of skunks entering homes through pet doors, and finding a quiet closet or empty bed, taking a nap. As long as the skunk does not feel threatened, it won’t spray. Ummm, wouldn’t recommend waking him up!
     Skunks have a bad reputation but are actually very shy and non-aggressive animals, using their “weapon” as a last resort. They rarely attack unless cornered or defending their young. If unable to flee, a skunk will usually fluff its fur, shake its tail, stamp the ground with its front feet, growl, stand on its hind legs, turn its head and spit to scare the potential attacker. If those techniques do not work, it will lift up its tail and spray. The skunk is aware of the respect it enjoys and will rarely run from a threat.
     This tidy little animal serves the beneficial purpose of insect and rodent control. Skunks are important to the balance of nature. Skunks are generally nocturnal and begin foraging at sunset. Their diet consists of all types of rodents, black widow spiders, rattlesnakes, scorpions, and garden pests such as snails, crickets, gophers, grubs, cockroaches and all other insects. Also being carrion eaters, they keep roadways and neighborhoods clean. An estimated 70 percent of a skunk’s diet consists of insects considered harmful to humans.
     With their slow, waddling gait and bushy tail, these gentle mammals are delightful to see from a distance, and play an important role in keeping nature in balance — the natural way.
     Remember, if you have a problem with a “wild” uninvited guest or encounter a wild animal that needs help and can be caught call: Lakeside Wildlife Rescue & Rehab. 765-4916 (Vern & Lori Geiger)
     (Ed. Note: This marks the debut in our publication of what has been a very popular column here at Lakeside. Welcome, Vern and Lori. May your stay with us be beneficial to many of God’s creatures, four-legged, as well as otherwise.)