One early spring morning, my wife went out to admire her garden and found her beautiful flowers gone. Something had eaten them right down to the ground.

Furious, she started looking in the woods and eventually saw a large groundhog heading for our house. She quickly enlisted my help. I sprung into action and decided that I would buy a Havahart trap to capture and relocate the pesky little critters.

For the next week I faithfully baited the trap with peanut butter, catching two large groundhogs and successfully relocating them five miles from where we live.

For safe measure, the next week I baited the trap and left for work. Driving up our drive that evening, I looked over and to my surprise, there was black and white fur in my trap. I had trapped a skunk.

My first thought was to get the gun. Then I thought, bad idea. Instead, I called the police department.

I got the name of a retired police officer who went on to a profession of removing unwanted local wildlife, so I gave him a call.

When he was finished laughing, he asked if I wanted him to come out the next morning and remove the skunk or walk me through the process of releasing the skunk without getting sprayed. I chose the former, thinking there was no way I could complete this seemingly daunting task.

Early the next morning, there was Bruce sitting in my drive in his big red pickup truck with the logo “Wildlife Removal Service” proudly embossed on the door. I greeted Bruce and he grabbed his binoculars, declaring that the skunk was a female.

He told me he could do two different things. First, he could put the trap in his truck and haul the skunk away as I did the groundhogs.

The other option was to let the thing go free back into our woods. He thought that was the best solution because he was sure she had babies somewhere nearby. How Bruce knew she was a mother with little ones I do not know, but having a soft spot, I went along with it.

Bruce quickly went to work, taking a large, light blue blanket out of his truck. I watched as he very slowly walked toward the trap and gently covered it with the blanket. He waited awhile and then slowly and carefully picked up the trap and started walking toward the woods.

When he reached the edge of the woods, he stopped. At last, he very carefully approached the trap, gently rolled back the blanket and opened the cage door. Out stepped the skunk, who then proudly marched back into our woods.

These days, while walking the dog at night, I occasionally will see a large, predominantly white skunk, and I am sure it is the very same one who caused me such anguish. Welcome to the Maine woods, the way life should be.

Charles Thompson is a professor of art at the University of New England when he’s not managing wildlife.

– Special to the Telegram