WINDSOR, Ont. -- Monday night's city budget approved by council may be great news if you're a Windsor taxpayer, but it's terrible news if you're a skunk who calls Windsor home.
One of the last items added to the $730-million 2012 municipal budget was an $80,000 expenditure to initiate a skunk removal program, something administration had recommended against.
The big question is - what do you do with a skunk once you've caught one?
"You can't relocate them ... they don't want them in the county," said Ward 7 Coun. Percy Hatfield.
A supporter of the initiative, Hatfield nevertheless told his colleagues bluntly that they'll have to be honest about what "trap and release" really means.
"You're going to kill them," said Hatfield.
While that may be "fine with some people," he predicts council is opening "a can of worms" in its pursuit of unwanted skunks.
The local humane society used to deal with skunk complaints but ended the practice because of what happened to the critters once they were caged and brought in.
"The tendency is they're euthanized," said Ward 3 Coun. Fulvio Valentinis.
Valentinis, who represents the downtown, described the striped animals as "wonderful wildlife," but he said it's "something residents want dealt with."
His motion to institute the skunk removal program was seconded by Ward 2 Coun. Ron Jones.
Valentinis agreed it was unlikely any Windsor skunk that is caught would end up back in the wild. For one, Ontario's Ministry of Natural Resources limits the distance that trapped skunks can be relocated to within a kilometre of the trapping site, according to a report from administration on the subject.
Asked whether it's better to have a dead skunk than an urban nuisance skunk, Valentinis replied: "I'm not gonna go down that road."
It was a close council vote, but none of those opposed to the motion spoke out for or against the skunks or the expenditure suggested by Valentinis for 2012.
Administration was instructed to report back on how a skunk removal program would be implemented with the funding approved this year and to also make recommendations on a longer-term program.
Windsor currently has no skunk or trapping program. Council on Monday night also approved a $75,000 expenditure to spay and neuter feral cats caught in the city.
When it comes to city skunks, the trend in other municipalities is on public education, according to a report by city environmental services manager Anne Marie Albidone.
"Given the geography of our city, euthanasia would likely be the only option," she said in her report.
Albidone's report suggested that mandating hard-sided garbage containers as a means of reducing an easy food source for skunks "may be perceived as intrusive by the public."