Cape Breton may have a new species on its hand — skunks.
Historically, there have never been skunks on the island, but the Department of Natural Resources says recently there have been reports of the furry critters, the last one just a few weeks ago in the Port Hawkesbury area.
Don Anderson is the regional wildlife biologist in the Baddeck office of the Department of Natural Resources. He says any skunks on Cape Breton most likely crossed the causeway or floated across the strait on the winter ice pack.
"There’s ample opportunity for a skunk, or a number of skunks, to cross over and get on the island," he said.
Anderson says there have been reports of skunks in the last seven or eight years, but he says it's still hard to say whether they've established a foothold.
He is skeptical about the effect skunks will have.
"We'll have to see where they fit in the ecosystem with the other animals that are here first to be able to see what benefits they bring," he said. "They can be a nuisance at times to people."
However, Anderson says, skunks are nocturnal so their presence may be little known to some.
He says skunks aren't known to carry disease in Nova Scotia, and do not seem to have any natural predators.
Anyone who spots a skunk on Cape Breton should contact the Department of Natural Resources.