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Students speak out in support of skunk sanctuary

Students proposing the UWindsor campus as a sanctuary for the city’s skunks argue it could be a win-win-win solution, but University officials think the idea is a stinker.

Ronnie Haidar, president of the student group Save Our Skunks, says a catch-and-release on campus program would save local taxpayers euthanasia fees, provide educational experiences for students, and benefit the skunks—targeted for trapping by city council in its latest budget.

Under provincial law aimed at controlling the spread of disease, trapped skunks may be released only within a distance of about a kilometre from the point of their capture. Humane society officials fear that will mean the vast majority will be euthanized.

Haidar, a fourth-year student of political science, says the campus is a natural refuge.

“There are a lot of unused areas surrounding our buildings, and a one-kilometre radius from here would cover most of the west side,” he says. “Besides, since our grounds department has stopped putting chemicals down, the skunks can eat the grubs and other pests in the lawns. It’s a totally green solution!”

He says biology students might enjoy researching the animals’ life cycle, and points out that skunks are dormant through the winter months, when the campus human population peaks.

Paul Henshaw, the university’s environmental advocate, emphasizing he does not speak for administration, calls importing skunks to campus “not a good idea.”

“There are a lot of people walking around here,” says Dr. Henshaw, a professor of environmental engineering. “I think it will make a lot of people mad once they get sprayed.”

He adds that he supports discouraging skunks by ensuring campus garbage containers are inaccessible to them as a food supply.

Facilities Services has already expressed opposition to the sanctuary proposal, says Lori Lewis, manager of news services.

“Our priority is our students. We must make sure we have a safe environment for our user population,” she says. “Even though skunks might help to control grubs and other pests in campus lawns, that small side benefit isn’t worth the risk.”

Skunk wearing Lancer shield on face

PUWindsor? Lance LePew, mascot of a group promoting the campus as a sanctuary for skunks, sports a facial tattoo in UWindsor colours.