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Skunks pose problems for both campuses

Liz Harter and Kelsey Falter | Monday, October 13, 2008

With the apparent spike in the number of nocturnal creatures at both Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s, many students have reported seeing skunks around their residence halls, making them wonder if they should stock up on tomato juice.

Scott Knight, Industrial Hygenist of Risk Management for NDSP, said he hadn’t heard of skunks being a problem until early September.

“I had not heard of anything until [early September] when a student contacted us about a skunk,” he said. “Building Services typically handles those types of calls.”

Students have reported seeing the skunks between Main Circle and Reckers, in front of Siegfried Hall, on God Quad and South Quad and on the Alumnae Green at Saint Mary’s.

Pangborn Hall freshman Courtney Sands said she saw a skunk near her dorm one night.

“It ran in front of us really quickly,” she said. “Skunks make me so nervous.”

Liz Brown, a sophomore from LeMans Hall, ran into one near the Saint Mary’s Student Center in mid-September on her way back to her dorm.

“That was the first skunk I had seen [on campus],” Brown said. “I was thinking, if I get sprayed I’m screwed.”

Brown hasn’t seen any more skunks at Saint Mary’s, but she has run into them when she has visited Notre Dame.

“It kind of freaks me out knowing that I can run into them,” she said. “No one really wants to be sprayed when you’re going out. It totally ruins your weekend.”

Farley rectress Sr. Carrine Etheridge said there is a skunk that seems to live behind the dorm. Her dog, Farley, a Pekingese who was once a stray found on campus, discovered it when she was sprayed.

“[Farley] tugged the leash from my hand and went after what she thought was a cat, I think,” Etheridge said. “By the time I caught up with her between Farley Hall and Breen-Phillips she had been sprayed by a skunk.”

She said she thinks everyone has seen the skunks on the Quad, but when Farley got “skunked” she “duly warned” her residents.

According to GetRidofThings.com, if a student does get sprayed by a skunk they should bathe as quickly as possible, but many students are under the impression that tomato baths do the trick.

Etheridge said she soaked Farley in tomato juice and shampooed her three times over the course of a weekend.

“She still smelled bad, but at least she was tolerable,” she said. “My entire apartment reeked of that awful skunk smell.”

Etheridge said Farley moped around for a few days but she’s fine now.

“Although, I still get a whiff of skunk when she gets wet,” she said.

Brown said she wants to warn students that tomato baths don’t work.

“My brother got sprayed when he was at college,” she said. “He went in to take a midterm and the professor told him to leave immediately and he could make up the exam because he smelled so bad. Tomato baths don’t work, I know that from his experience.”

GetRidofThings.com said white vinegar or hydrogen peroxide should be used to dissolve the skunk oils instead of tomato juice. The victim should then use an odor neutralizing detergent or soap to further dilute the smell.

Bill Hambling, Saint Mary’s Director of Facilities, said the prevalence of skunks on campus “is a smelly situation,” but a family of skunks near the College’s Early Childhood and Development Center on the Northwest side of campus was trapped and relocated off-campus.

Dave Gariepy, director of the Department of Safety and Security at Saint Mary’s, said students can report skunks to the department.

“We respond to all sorts of calls … including calls about animals that may be sick or injured or just a nuisance,” he said.