Bootheel's skunk of a different stripe

Saturday, June 7, 2003

POPLAR BLUFF, Mo. -- It's not exactly something people want waiting at home for them at the end of a long day. It's not even something people usually want within a five-mile radius. But this little skunk has no idea what the fuss is all about -- he likes people, and he's not afraid to show it.

According to residents on Willow Street in Poplar Bluff, this olfactory offending animal has made himself at home with them, even going so far as to follow residents around and brush against their legs like a cat.

"He started coming around a couple of years ago," said Margie Timmons, who has owned a house on Willow Street since 1968. "He really took up with a woman who lived down the road, though. He would wait for her at her mailbox at night when she would get home from work."

This particular skunk is well known in that area of town. Several Wal-Mart employees have seen it out walking at night as well.

"It must live over here somewhere because we see it out here all the time," said Steve Larson, who works the 4 p.m. to midnight shift at Wal-Mart.

The employees noticed the skunk about a year ago. None of them have been brave enough to approach it.

But all may not be well with the skunk. The last time Timmons saw it, it was having problems walking.

"It would walk a little bit and then fall over, and then it would get back up," Timmons said.

Timmons said she was afraid to go to the skunk because it might spray her. She did talk to it for a while, and the skunk would lift its head and look at her.

"You could just tell something was wrong with it," Timmons said. "I sure hope it is all right."

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