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IL: Man cited after shooting skunk

October 15, 2009

Man cited after shooting skunk


On the heels of widespread resident frustration with the animal's reportedly booming population in town, Elmhurst resident Gerald Harsen was penalized after taking the city's skunk issue into his own hands.

Elmhurst Police were dispatched to Harsen's home at 955 S. Fern Ave. after reports of a gunshot, according to officers.

Police found a dead skunk in a trap in the yard that Harsen said he killed with an air gun, reports said. Officers confiscated the trap and issued Harsen a $25 citation for trapping animals without a permit, according to police.

"We have a vermin here (and) there are certain animals people shouldn't be forced to live with," Harsen said. "Why should I pay a trapper to take care of the skunk when I can do that myself?"

Harsen echoed a common complaint heard in recent weeks from residents upset over the city's strict guidelines for issuing traps.

"I take issue with the city putting up so many barriers to take care of the problem," Harsen said. "I never thought I'd have to call a professional trapper and pay them in addition to paying the city taxes for services."

Currently, the guidelines specify the city will only distribute traps to homes suffering property damage because of animals.

The discharge of airguns and other firearms is prohibited in Elmhurst, with the exception of doing so within the confines of a shooting range.

"I know we can't shoot firearms in the city, but you should be permitted to trap skunks without causing any damage to the neighborhood," he said.

The city also specifies that animals nibbling in gardens, like the one Harsen keeps, are not a reason to hand out traps.

"That's my garden, I eat that fruit," Harsen said. "It's like protecting your hen house from opossum or foxes, or protecting a grainery from an infestation of rats."

Harsen also was concerned with possible rabid skunks in his neighborhood.

"Skunks are the greatest terrestrial carriers of the rabies virus, it's on the Illinois Department of Health Web site," he said. "They should encourage people to deal with the problem rather than putting up a barrier ... what we got here is a barrier toward dealing with a pest."

Phone calls to the Elmhurst Police Department for comment were not immediately returned.

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