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Stowaway skunk euthanized on Oahu

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    A striped skunk was captured by workers unloading a container in Kahului, Maui.

Workers at a Maui trucking company found a live skunk while unloading a container of ceramic tiles on Aug. 30, state officials said today.

When the workers in Kahului smelled an odor and thought they saw a critter in the container, they quickly closed it and called agricultural inspectors at the state Department of Agriculture’s Maui Plant Quarantine Branch.

After setting two traps in the container overnight, Maui inspectors found the stowaway — a striped skunk weighing about five pounds — in one of the traps on Friday morning. The skunk was sent to Oahu on Tuesday. The skunk was euthanized to test it for rabies, said Janelle Saneishi, spokeswoman for the Agriculture Department. Killing the skunk is part of the protocol for any mammal with unknown origins that may carry rabies, she said. The results of the rabies test are expected in a few days.

“We appreciate the quick reaction of the trucking crew in containing the animal and contacting HDOA inspectors,” Phyllis Shimabukuro-Geiser, acting chairwoman of the Hawaii Board of Agriculture, said in a news release. “Had the animal escaped from the container, it would have been a much larger problem and we are grateful for their awareness and cooperation.”

In February, stevedores at Pier 1 at Honolulu Harbor captured another live skunk with its head stuck in a yogurt cup — the first recorded capture of a live skunk in Hawaii.

Skunks are prohibited in Hawaii, and allowed by permit only for research and exhibition in a municipal zoo. State officials said containing stowaway animals is critical so that humans and other animals do not come into physical contact with them.

To report the sighting of illegal animals or invasive species, call the state’s toll-free hotline, 643-7378.

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