One thing everyone knows about skunks is their method of defense – the release of a stinky spray from their anal glands.
For those who want to know more, the Athol Bird & Nature Club will explore the lives of these mammals on Wednesday, February 13 at 7 p.m. at the Millers River Environmental Center, 100 Main St., Athol. The program is free and open to the public.
The speaker will be Luanne Johnson, a wildlife biologist and director of BiodiversityWorks, a Martha’s Vineyard non-profit (www.biodiversityworksMV.org). Johnson has spent much of her 20-year field career working to recover endangered birds, such as the Atlantic coast piping plover and Palila, a finch-billed Hawaiian honeycreeper.
Her doctoral research, however, was on coastal striped skunks inhabiting piping plover nesting beaches. From 2004-2008, she captured and radio-collared 50 striped skunks inhabiting beaches on Martha’s Vineyard and followed them to learn about their foraging and denning habits. She will be sharing what she learned about these fascinating mammals in a “seasonally urban habitat,” the summer beach.