TOPEKA (KSNT) – A rare species not often seen in Kansas was spotted by lucky biologists.

The Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks (KDWP) reports on social media that its biologists captured photos of the eastern spotted skunk in Kansas. The KDWP has been searching for signs of this elusive species through the use of trail cameras and sardine bait.

Trail cam shot of an eastern spotted skunk. (Photo Courtesy/Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks)

This species, once common in many areas of the U.S., has declined since the 1940s, according to the KDWP. A combination of factors such as habitat and resource use changes may have contributed to the current plight of the spotted skunk.

The eastern spotted skunk is protected by the Kansas Nongame and Endangered Species Conservation Act, according to the KDWP. Several counties contain critical habitats for the skunk: Anderson, Barton, Chautauqua, Ellis, Finney, Ford, Gray, Labette, Montgomery, Sedgwick, Sumner, Trego, Wilson and Woodson.

Ed Miller with the KDWP said the eastern spotted skunk was a “species of concern” due to the difficulty biologists have experienced in the past with trying to find it. The spotted skunk is one of many Kansas species currently considered in the ‘threatened’ category.