This northern Idaho town is treating newly planted trees with a rancid mixture of skunk musk, fox urine and water to ward off potential thieves looking for Christmas trees.
The 35 spruces at Finucane Park will be doused next week with a potion called "Scrooge."The tonic emits little odor outdoors but makes a big stink when taken into an environment warmer than 50 degrees. The smell lingers for weeks in carpets, curtains, furniture and clothing.
City Council members in the town five miles north of Coeur d'Alene recently set aside $50 to buy a gallon of the smelly stuff from a Colorado company in an effort to protect the trees. They learned of Scrooge from an Association of Idaho Cities bulletin touting its success in Pullman, Wash.
Ralph Dannenberg, Pullman's public services director, swears by the potion. It smells like an extremely wet baby diaper that has been sprayed with skunk musk, he said.
"I can assure you, it works," he said.
Pullman sprayed trees in three public areas during each of the past two holiday seasons to reduce pre-Christmas thefts. No trees were taken last year.
Dannenberg's department, which plans to begin its annual spraying program Monday, now produces its own brand of Scrooge by mixing a pint of coyote urine, an ounce of skunk musk and water in a quart-sized sprayer.
The brand produced by Rocky Mountain Wildlife Enterprises of LaPorte, Colo., uses fox urine obtained from fox farms. The company extracts the skunk scent from animals that have been hit by cars or captured by humane societies.