You can help Arkansas Game and Fish find rare spotted skunk

Arkansas Game and Fish needs your help finding the rare spotted skunk, the handstand sporting species that has made waves in viral social media videos

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) -- Have you spotted a spotted skunk? The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission wants to know! You can participate in a citizen science project to find where these skunks are in the state.

The spotted skunk has already drawn a lot of national attention because it is not only a rare find, it has rare talents. Biologist Blake Sasse with AGFC said that one of the most interesting things about it is that when it’s threatened, it will do a handstand before it sprays.

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Spotted skunk, AGFC

“People have seen videos of that and it really gets them interested in the species,” he said.

He said the skunks have been the subject of multiple viral videos as people watch their handstand skills in awe. But, while the skunk’s skills might be popular and YouTube worthy, another part of the allure is that it's hard to find them. Sasse says the species is in danger and that's why the AGFC needs your help.

“The species has probably always been rare but in other parts of its range in Kansas, Iowa and Missouri it has declined a whole lot,” said Sasse. “That is why they are listing it as endangered.”

The AGFC would like help figuring out where in the state the species is located right now. For the second year, the commission is asking for your help in a citizen science project where you can use your game cameras to see if you can spot the skunks.

Last year, no one was able to find them. Sasse said anyone that would like to participate will need a GPS unit to be able to record the location of where they put their cameras. They also must be willing to put cameras out for 21 days and check them on a weekly basis to see if there have been any spotted skunks.

Sasse also recommends installing a sardine can on a tree across from where your game cameras are located. The can should go about two feet up the tree so that when the skunk comes by to get to the smell, spots and stripes will be more visible on camera.

Sasse said if more citizen scientists get involved, he is optimistic it will make a huge difference.

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“These sorts of citizen science projects are becoming increasingly popular because it is a way, with pretty easily available equipment like game cameras, to obtain information about a species that various agencies in different states can't always do on their own because of lack of manpower and resources.”

If you'd like to purchase a game camera to participate in the study, Sasse said they range from $50-$100.

You can click here for more details on how you can participate in the study.