AUBURN, Calif. - A homeowner who said a recent skunk invasion was the worst he'd seen in 20 years has triggered an uproar over the way he dealt with the problem.
The man, who asked that his name not be used because of threats he's received, was featured in an Auburn Journal front page story this week showing off the homemade device he used to trap and drown 18 skunks that wandered into his yard.
The headline claimed the "skunk man" had found "the sweet smell of success." KAHI radio talk show host Mary Jane Popp said the topic dominated her show on Thursday.
"People were outraged," Popp said. "People were very, very upset with this man and I think more so that he was being glorified for doing this."
In a conversation with News10, the 63-year-old retiree said he had previously called animal control to deal with problem skunks, but was repulsed when he witnessed a skunk suffering at the hands of two exterminators.
The homeowner said a local trapper recommended drowning the skunks to prevent them from spraying. It's illegal to transport a caged skunk, according to the Department of Fish and Wildlife. Shooting the skunks in the trap is another long-accepted practice, although discharging a firearm within city limits is prohibited.
The homeowner was approached by the Auburn Journal reporter who learned about his skunk-drowning device from a neighbor.
"The worst part of this is the idea that I could ever find this pleasurable," he said. He provided News10 with a written statement offering a detailed explanation.
Although much of the community has been outraged by the skunk drownings, KAHI radio news director Mary West said she had heard from a number of people who support the homeowner.
"I think it was unfortunate this was presented the way it was," West said. "But I think most people really don't want to know how vermin are dealt with."
Following the article's publication it was learned that drowning skunks became illegal on Jan. 1.
Fish and Wildlife Lt. Patrick Foy admitted that many in his department were unaware of the change in the law and that the agency would do a better job publicizing it. Foy said the man had been interviewed by a game warden and the case was still under investigation, but that a citation had not been issued.