Skunks bring Funk to LMC

Los Medanos College students and instructors with classes in the P.E. portables have been dealing with a pesky situation.

Skunks are some of the few creatures infesting various areas around campus due to local community members leaving food for stray cats.

According to Grounds Worker Andre White, some of the places where skunks have marked their territory are the baseball field, tennis courts, football field and the lake.

He explained that there is a woman –– whose name was unidentifiable –– that comes to LMC between 8 a.m. and 1 p.m. to make her rounds to feed the animals.

Grounds workers have approached the woman to explain to her that she does not need to feed the cat’s everyday because this makes them stay longer.

“They used to just leave but now they stay around as if they belong,” said White.

P.E. Department Chair Colleen Ralston said the same woman also slides a tray of cat food under the circuit training room, which attracts the skunks to the area, creating foul odors that circulate through the classrooms in the area.

“This has affected the learning environment,” said Ralston. “No one wants to exercise in a room that smells like a skunk has sprayed inside it –– which, in essence, it has.”

Ralston added that some students reported seeing skunks roaming around the campus in broad daylight, an oddity since skunks are nocturnal.

“When a skunk’s out running around in the day, sometimes that could indicate that they’re not real healthy and I wouldn’t want to think that we have a rabid skunk family surrounding an area where students are,” expressed Ralston.

Lieutenant Chad Wehrmeister shared similar concerns regarding the potential impact to public health this could have on the campus.

He added that there are multiple people who come on to the campus, feeding stray animals —— geese and ducks at the lake too –– and how it’s been a common issue because LMC is adjacent to a large trail system that houses a variety of animals.

“There isn’t a policy, procedure or law for that matter so what we’ve tried to do is work with our community and get the message out that leaving food out attracts everything from wildlife to pests –– which is the big thing,” said Wehrmeister.

In the worst case scenario, the college could file a restraining order against the community members but Wehrmeister said most of the people that the police department has spoken to about the issue have been helpful and work with them to move the feeding areas outside of the campus.

“When we see bowls of food left out, we dispose of them because of the potential public health consequences,” said Wehrmeister

He said the college has taken steps bringing in contractors to use no-kill traps in order to remove skunks and other critters from areas where they are seen on campus.

“Many people in our community, out of the goodness of their hearts, are feeding cats, ducks and geese,” he said. “I know that their intent is to help the animals but leaving food behind, unattended, creates a big potential for some negative consequences.”

-Sarah Gonzales contributed to this report