Sure, skunks might not be the sweetest smelling species in the Animal Kingdom's bouquet, but with an unavoidably distinct black-and-white color pattern displayed like a 'do not disturb' sign to the world, it's hard not to appreciate their transparency. And transparency is exactly what's lacking in one New Jersey mayor's plan to rid his town of skunks -- quite frankly, something doesn't smell right about it. Mayor Martin Pagliughi of Avalon has set about removing the animals from his island borough, and it's caught the attention of state wildlife officials who say the action could be illegal.
According to the Press of Atlantic City, in 2009 the Avalon mayor admitted to having 74 skunks rounded up and transported off the island to nearby borough of Upper Township, New Jersey. Local residents were none to happy to host Avalon's extra stinkers, so Mayor Pagliughli was forced to hash a new plan to make his island town skunk-free.
There's just one problem though: he's not letting anyone know where the animals are going now. In fact, he's even taken to giving tongue-in-cheek responses when pressed for answers as to the deported skunks' whereabouts.
"Within the last year we've taken about 80 skunks off the island. We're trapping them and putting them in the witness protection program. We don't know where they're going," said Mayor Pagliughi.
That might be enough to satisfy Pagliughi's apparently skunk-hating constituents, but officials from the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife, which oversees the relocation of animals in the state, are clearly not amused. They want to know where the skunks are going.
"They do not have a permit and they should not be removing them," Larry Ragonese of the state's Department of Environmental Protection tells the Press of Atlantic City. "They don't have the right to relocate a species. They have to talk to the Fish and Wildlife folks to assess that."
"Is it a public health and safety issue or is it just that people don't like them? In Avalon there seems to be a natural habitat and a significant habitat for skunks. Unless there is a safety issue or public health issue we would not remove them from a natural area. Two years ago we asked them to stop. They didn't have permission to bring animals to other areas."
Still, Mayor Pagliughi says that he's merely responding to Avalon residents' distaste for the stinky animals in their neighborhood, but still it behoves him to make clear his skunk removal plans. It may not be illegal to have the critters relocated within the island, though the mayor's own remarks suggest that they are being taking out of Avalon entirely.
With such a strong anti-skunk sentiment in town, it's a wonder why anyone decided to settle there in the first place. Let's just hope, for their sake, the skunks don't plan to implement a human-removal plan -- then things could start to get really stinky.