From the Georgia Department of Natural Resources
Eastern Spotted Skunk photo Courtesy Bob Gress
Nikki Castleberry almost couldn't believe her eyes. A live trap set for woodrats in the Chattahoochee National Forest held an Eastern spotted skunk.
The subspecies endemic to Georgia is supposedly found across much of the state. But in reality, spotted skunks are a rare find here even for mammal specialists like Castleberry, a Nongame Conservation Section natural resources biologist with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.
I'd never seen one before, Castleberry said.
Spotted skunks are North Americas smallest skunk. They average pounds lighter than the more common striped skunk and sport broken white stripes, giving the appearance of spots.
There are three subspecies of spotted skunks. The conservation status of the one in Georgia is rated Apparently Secure. Yet, scientists like Castleberry think the pint-sized mammal is declining significantly, in part because of habitat loss.
The problem is we know so little about them, she said. One reason: Nobody has really looked that hard, at least (not) in Georgia.
The March 29 catch near Helen by Castleberry and interns is spurring her to look hard. She plans to check museum records for occurrences in Georgia. She is also encouraging people who see a spotted skunk, alive or dead, to report it online.
Find the form by clicking here.
The online form includes tips on how to tell spotted and striped skunks apart. Castleberry hopes to fill in the information gaps about Georgias spotted skunks. And, of course, she hopes to avoid getting skunked.
For more information on Georgias spotted skunks, click here.