An Eastern Spotted Skunk was recently seen in the Marlinton-White Sulphur Springs District. The official Facebook page for the U.S. Forest Service – Monongahela National Forest posted on March 25 that “at least one, possibly two, spotted skunks were caught on camera the second week of the spotted skunk survey on the Marlinton-White Sulphur District…”
One of the reasons this sighting is so exciting is that the Eastern Spotted Skunk or Spilogale Putorius is an endangered species. Not only that, but according to the U.S. Forest Service, they are incredibly sneaking and hard to spot. When many people think about skunks, they think only of the striped variety. This is largely because they are so much more prevalent than the spotted skunk.
The Eastern Spotted Skunk is native to North America and can be found throughout the Eastern United States. They are also sometimes found in areas of Canada and Mexico. According to Animal Diversity Web and material based on work supported by the National Science Foundation, the Eastern Spotted Skunk’s habitat is primarily wooded areas and tall-grass prairies. They also occasionally prefer rocky habitats.
The typical mating season for Eastern Spotted Skunks is March and April with the exception of some females in southern states. These females may not mate until July or August based on information compiled by Animal Diversity Web.
Like most skunks, they are mostly nocturnal creatures. Also like other skunks, their defense mechanism is the noxious smell of an oily secretion projected from the animal’s anal glands.
According to easternspottedskunk.weebly.com, the Eastern Spotted Skunk is classified as a furbearer in West Virginia and may be trapped during legal trapping season or hunted year-round. However, the West Virginia Department of Natural Resources has been conducting a study of the spatial ecology and natural history of the Eastern Spotted Skunk. For most of 2019, the West Virginia DNR Eastern Spotted Skunk Study posted regularly to a Facebook page by the same title.
For more information on the Eastern Spotted Skunk or why the sighting was so amazing, reach out to the WVDNR by calling their Wildlife Resources Department at 304-558-2771