C1 Humor: The Great Skunk Caper

The story of how several correctional officers helped a skunk escape from prison — mostly intact

By Samuel Cowey, C1 Contributor

One of the cool things about working in a prison is that most are located in rural areas, affording you an opportunity to see wildlife you might not ordinarily see if you were in a metro area. 

My prison is located in the desert area of south eastern California. I’ve seen scorpions, tarantulas, squirrels, prairie dogs, turtles, frogs, coyotes, skunks, snakes, and the occasional loose steer. My favorite was the time I saw a badger. It had been struck by a vehicle and when we called the Fish and Game Warden, he argued with us adamantly that badgers don’t live in this area. 

AKA the rescue of Pepe Le Pew Jr.
AKA the rescue of Pepe Le Pew Jr. (Getty Images)

When he arrived, he said “hey, that’s a badger!”  

Recently, I had a close encounter with wildlife while working first watch perimeter patrol. I was alerted to a sensor alarm on the lethal electrified fence at about 03:00. As I approached in my vehicle I immediately noticed a strong odor of skunk mixed with burned flesh. 

Uh oh, I thought, we zapped a skunk

As I got out of my vehicle, I saw a pile of black hair by the bottom wire. As I worked my flashlight along the wire I saw the little skunk motionless with most of the hair missing from its tail. The skunk was just a baby, its body not much bigger than grapefruit. It was facing me at an angle with its tail (what was left of it) cocked up. I flashed my light at it several times and it didn’t move. Then as I took a step closer the tail moved a little. Was it the wind or did its tail move? 

I took a short hop forward and shouted cha at it, and again the tail moved slightly. I repeated it and this time the little skunk hopped and rotated his body a few degrees facing me straight on. Holy smokes! The little guy survived the zap. About this time my outside patrol officer arrived next to me and another officer approached from inside the fence. 

I warned him to keep his distance that there was a little skunk and he’s not happy! I’ve never seen an officer do a double take and reposition himself quicker than that officer when he realized he was in the line of fire of a cocked, loaded, and very mad skunk. The outside patrol officer and I laughed at his quick realignment. 

Okay, now we have to figure how to get the skunk out of there. Without warning, the little skunk jumped back across the live wire towards us and we jumped back. I thought for sure he was going to get zapped again, but nothing happened. The little skunk started hopping (just like Pepe Le Pew) along the outer fence line searching for an exit. We followed him around as he covered an entire quarter of the fence line to the pedestrian sallyport. 

He then jumped across the hot wire and started going back along the inner fence line. I surely did not want him to get inside so I had the inner patrol officer try to get him to change direction. It took several tries but we finally got him turned around just before he got back to where we started. 

Once again, at the sallyport, he jumped across the wire and started down the fence line. Each time he jumped across the wire, I cringed, expecting him to get zapped for good. But each time, nothing happened. I had the outside patrol officer use his baton to create a small tunnel under the fence for him to escape and then we tried to wrangle him towards it. Every time we got him close, he would hop to hot wire and jump across. We had to use dirt clods and small rocks tossed near him to try to direct him. 

Finally after passing or running away from the improvised tunnel, the little skunk found it and crawled under hopping nonchalantly towards the parking lot. The two officers and I started laughing about how it took two officers and a sergeant to get him out. I looked at my watch and realized we had been out here chasing that skunk for over 45 minutes. 

Another great night in the desert!

Recommended for you

Copyright © 2023 Corrections1. All rights reserved.