The upcoming return to classes means Cliff Schneider is gearing up to get back behind the wheel in his job as a school bus driver.
But he’s been keeping busy over the summer with his other main pursuit: catching skunks in his Calgary neighbourhood.
Schneider doesn’t charge for catching these smelly pests, doing it instead as a service to others.
“I’ll come over and help get rid of their little stinkers,” he said. “Friends call me ‘The Skunk Whisperer.’”
Some neighbours call him something else: “Absolutely nuts,” Debbie Manning said with a laugh.
But she and many others in the northeast community of Castleridge say they appreciate Schneider trapping and removing skunks.
“It’s good that you have a neighbour that’s catching them,” Manning said. “The smell is just horrible. You can’t open your windows, and you can’t go out in your yard at night.”
Schneider didn’t take any training, but developed his skills over the past three years. He’s caught a total of 36 skunks in cat traps using chicken as bait.
Professional “skunk-busters” say Calgary’s skunk problem in 2017 is in line with recent years, but Schneider says this is by far his busiest year.
“It is an epidemic in our city,” he said. “There’s tons of them.”
Schneider has some tips on how to “skunk-proof” your yard: block any possible entrances with rocks or pieces of wood, avoid leaving pet food out and try using rags soaked in ammonia or citrus peels as deterrents.
Schneider says he’s never been sprayed by a skunk in his years of trapping them.
“They’re pretty docile once they’re in the trap. They don’t get too crazy.”
He transports them east of Calgary and releases them in the countryside.
“In the city, they’re just a nuisance,” Schneider said. “Out here, they’ve got an opportunity to live naturally and do their thing.”