A runaway skunk caused havoc when it turned up at a Craven fishing lake.

The skunk, believed to be an abandoned pet, spent just a few hours at Raygill Fishing Lake in Lothersdale before being taken away by an RSPCA officer.

But not before it expressed its disgust by spraying fisheries owner Bernard Clement, induced a small child to vomit and left a lingering smell a million times worse than rotting eggs.

Mr Clement said his two daughters, Philippa and Sally, were playing when they spotted something unusual in one of the humane traps put out to catch vermin.

"When I saw it my first thought was that it was a pine martin, but when I got closer there was no doubt, it smelt unbelievably bad," he said.

He brought the skunk back to the office and contacted the RSPCA.

"It was quite a friendly little thing, but you could see it had hurt its leg quite badly and was quite peeved. I gave it some raw egg and a cheese slice and it ate that. It did seem fairly tame."

It did, however, give an indication of what it was capable of.

"It was relatively friendly, but if you got too close to it, it turned its back on you like it was going to spray you."

Mr Clement said the skunk was smaller than he thought. "I thought they were a lot bigger, but this one was about the size of a big ferret with a massive tail," he said.

But it was the smell that left him in no doubt as to what it was.

"My mum came out to see it and she could smell it from 50 yards away and when I went into the fishery building one of the kids who was there started retching.

"I've never smelt anything as bad as that. It was about 10,000 times smellier than a fox. A fox would smell fragrant in comparison and the fisheries building still smells hours afterwards.

"I would have kept it myself if it hadn't been so stinky, but it was quite amusing to see the RSPCA man drive off with it in his van. I imagine he would have had to have all the windows open."

Heidi Jenner, RSPCA chief inspector for the Yorkshire area, said it had been the second skunk retrieved by the RSPCA in the last few months. She said unfortunately the Lothersdale skunk had suffered a bad injury which had become infected and it had been destroyed.

"We took it straight to a vet who sedated it and found it had a leg missing. We believe it might have been caught in some other sort of trap and could have chewed its leg off to get away. Certainly it had not been surgically removed. It was badly infected and unfortunately, the skunk was euthanased."

She added that another skunk had been caught just last month in Todmorden after roaming free since January.

"That one was luckier, we did manage to find another home for that in Oxford," she said.

But she warned against skunks being kept as pets.

"Since the Animal Welfare Act it has become illegal to remove the scent glands from skunks because it is seen as cosmetic. We think what is happening is people are getting skunks and then getting rid of them once they start smelling. They do not make ideal pets," she added.