Canadian fur trappers called the skunk "l'enfant du diable" or the "child of the devil." The great president and outdoors-man Teddy Roosevelt once wrote that "there is no wild beast in the West, no matter what size and ferocity, so dreaded by old plainsmen as this seemingly harmless little beast."
It became widely believed that any skunk so bold as to approach a person or come into a field camp was rabid. However, since that time we have learned that skunks are rarely rabid, and that today an urban skunk who enters a person's back yard is more likely habituated than diseased. Indeed the few rare cases of rabies when they do occur in the US over the past 50 years have been primarily associated with bats and even raccoons. The latter being the focus of large-scale vaccination programs.