Since 1999, I’ve rehabilitated native wild mammals including hundreds of skunks. When I received a call about a rescued baby skunk in early August of this year, I thought this was just a typical call. Although California is home to both the Striped Skunk and the Spotted Skunk, I had only rehabbed the striped species. Much to my surprise, this baby skunk was that elusive Spotted Skunk that I thought I would never have the opportunity to work with.

Upon intake, this tiny female weighed 210 grams (7.4 oz). After observation, I realized she was close to eight weeks. Three weeks into her stay she was doing well and weighed 350 grams (12.3 oz). It was time to transfer her to a large outdoor enclosure until her release.

Considering the rarity of Spotted Skunks, it was critical that she be released back in the area where she was found, a journey that would require a difficult 10 mile hike to Sykes Hot Springs in Big Sur.

I assembled a release team: my husband, his daughter and her friend, and our nine year old son. In late September, they began hiking early in the day with backpacks and a carrier containing one small 380 gram (13.4 oz) wiggly spotted skunk. That evening, exhausted, they reached Sykes, opened the carrier and set her free to live life as a wild animal.

By Monique Smith Lee