School Sprays Skunk Scent on Pine Trees
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Nov 19, 4:17 PM (ET)
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - There's a stinky surprise waiting for thieves who snatch pine trees from the University of Minnesota to use as Christmas trees: Instead of the smell of a freshly-cut tree, they'll get a whiff of roadkill skunk.
The university is spraying balsam fir, Scotch pine and anything that looks like a holiday tree with skunk scent ordered from a West Virginia trapping store.
Grounds superintendent Les Potts said the university lost seven evergreens last year to poachers. Christmas tree thieves have been sawing down trees in the middle of the night for years, but last year they lopped the tops off 18-foot trees that were more than 20 years old. The trees probably are permanently disfigured, Potts said.
The spray, which is being administered on still, rainless days, should cover at least the tops of 400 to 500 trees.
So, why skunk?
"Can you think of something worse?" Potts asked.
Cold weather masks the smell. But warm, indoor air releases it.
"We'll probably still lose some trees, but I have some satisfaction in knowing that it's not going to work out the way the thief thinks it will," Potts said.
He admitted wondering what the campus will smell like when warm weather hits next spring.