A skunk with its head stuck in a yogurt cup was discovered this morning at Honolulu Harbor and later taken into quarantine by state Department of Agriculture inspectors.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents called the department at about 7:15 a.m. to report that stevedores at Pier 1 had apprehended the animal, believed to be the first ever captured in Hawaii.
Officials said plastic traffic barriers were used to trap the critter until agriculture inspectors arrived. The skunk was then taken to the department’s Animal Industry Division, where it was tested for rabies. Results from a mainland laboratory will take several days.
The striped skunk appears to be a young adult weighing 3.5 pounds, officials said. The gender was unknown as veterinarians are minimizing handling until the results of the rabies test come in.
The stevedores apparently saw the animal running around in the harbor yard with its head in an empty yogurt cup, officials said, and it remains a mystery as to how the skunk got there.
Found in the mainland U.S., Canada, South America, Mexico and other parts of the world, skunks are prohibited in Hawaii, although they are allowed by permit for research and for exhibition in a municipal zoo.
According to the Department of Agriculture, skunks are one of four wild animals that are the primary carriers of the rabies virus, a fatal disease transmitted through the bite of a rabid animal. Hawaii is the only state that is rabies free.
Plant Quarantine Branch records indicate that this is the first skunk captured in the state.
To report illegal and invasive species, call the state’s toll-free Pest Hotline at 643-7378.