I took a quick road trip up to Fairfax on Monday and Tuesday, so I spent much of my time in the car or visiting with nice northern Virginia people and not at my computer.

Skunk awakening. Image by christels on Pixabay.

But during the drive, particularly down in our area, you can’t help but notice a peculiar phenomenon. Dead skunks are all over the road. In the 25 minutes it took for me to get into Roanoke, I counted five of the smelly little guys, and four more on the rest of the drive to Fairfax.

There are enough of those furry black and white carcasses to definitely notice, and yes, the smell is everywhere, too.

I did a little research and learned the reason for the skunk explosion: it’s love. Skunks hibernate and come out of their slumber in February and early March, ready to breed. Evidently, this primal urge nudges them to travel unusually large distances, often crossing roads at night (because skunks, you know, are nocturnal).

Also, skunks tend to be a bit bolder than other wildlife because of their built-in olfactory defense system. Back off, predators! Sadly, that doesn’t help them much when it comes to cars.

A couple of years ago, an article in the Richmond Times-Dispatch offered a bit of a silver lining to all of these skunk casualties: randy skunks can be a better harbinger of an early spring than that groundhog in Pennsylvania. Early spring? I might find some love in my heart for those skunks after all!

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