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Skunks cause a stink at Frederick Manor

January 07, 1999|By BRUCE HAMILTON

Skunks are causing a stink at Frederick Manor in Hagerstown.

"We've got a skunk problem in that area," said Ted Shankle, executive director of the Hagerstown Housing Authority.

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No one has been hurt by the animals, but residents are concerned about their increasing numbers, Shankle said.

In response, the housing authority will hold a meeting at Frederick Manor's community center on Jan. 12 at 6 p.m.

George Timko, a state Department of Natural Resources wildlife technician, will answer questions about the animals. Anyone may attend.

Housing officials say the skunks flourish in the area. There are few natural predators, such as coyotes, foxes or owls.

Vegetation in nearby Grove Hill cemetery provides shelter, and water and food sources are nearby.

"Every spring, there's a litter," said George Siebert, the housing authority's security director.

Skunks generally are not violent. Their chief defense is a musky spray that they typically use when frightened or threatened. Some people make pets of the animals.

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Rheeanna Reifel, a Hagerstown veterinary technician, said her mother has kept a skunk for several years and has not been sprayed.

But wild skunks can be rabies carriers and Siebert said residents should be wary of them even if they seem tame.

"They get domesticated, but they're still wild," he said.

Siebert said his employees frequently see skunks near Frederick Manor, a public housing complex with 125 units and about 500 residents.

Cats have been spotted eating alongside them. Children chase them without getting sprayed, according to Siebert.

Regina Stoner has lived at Frederick Manor for 11 years. She said the skunks first put in an appearance more than six years ago. "We've got a lot of them," she said.

Although the cold weather has made the skunks scarce, they have been a nuisance.

"They stink up the place," said Stoner. "They come across your porch while you're sitting there."

She said she believes some of the animals are living under storage sheds in the neighborhood.

"We're really working hard to get rid of them," she said.

Clear Spring solved a similar skunk problem last summer. The town used traps to get rid of them and it apparently worked.

"I haven't heard anybody say they've come back," said Town Clerk Nancy Keefer.

No decision has been made to try that tactic at Frederick Manor.

"We'll have to think about it," Siebert said.

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