SANTA CRUZ (CBS SF) — Wildlife Emergency Services crews responded to three rescues of skunks caught in rat traps in Monterey and Santa Cruz counties in four days, which the group said Monday is an unusually high number.

On Sunday night, Wildlife Emergency Services volunteers responded to a call regarding a badly injured skunk caught by a snap trap in a neighborhood near La Selva Beach in Santa Cruz County. Two of its toes had been severed by the trap.

According to rescue volunteer Duane Titus, who responded to the scene, the young skunk had been looking for mice to eat.

The other two skunks were found Saturday morning and last Thursday caught by similar snap traps in Monterey County.

Snap traps are heavy-duty rat traps characterized by interlocking teeth, and are not intended to be used outdoors where skunks, other animals or pets can reach them, according to Wildlife Emergency Services.

Officials with the Moss Landing-based animal rescue group said that while snap traps are safer for the environment than poison when controlling rodent infestation, they are short-term solutions to be applied if the cause of the infestation is not addressed.

According to Wildlife Emergency Services president Rebecca Dmytryk, the increase in skunks found ensnared by snap traps could be a result of people experiencing more rodent infestations that attract skunks looking for prey, people leaving out more bird seed, which attracts rodents, or the drought causing the animals to seek water near homes.

“You don’t want to run into them, but skunks are your rodent control,” Dmytryk said. “Once we reduce attractants, such as food and shelter, it makes our homes unsuitable for wildlife populations.”

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