Porcupines killed in PA are the latest victim of illegal meat trade in Southeast Asia. Last year the Pennsylvania Game Commission lifted a ban on porcupine hunting, but after learning about the black market sales, last week revised the decision to allow 10 per year. What is bothersome is that according to Uldis Roze, professor emeritus, Queens College, the porcupine is a nocturnal creature that have a low reproductive rate and produce no more than one offspring per year, are slow moving and easy to kill. It could take many years to rebuild their population, especially since they have such a low population density that any trapping or killing could wipe out an entire forest of these animals.
Sarah Speed, HSUS PA State Director is calling for a moratorium on hunting porcupines until there is further study on the porcupine population. Last year she requested the PGC reject a proposal that classifies porcupines as a nuisance species. She states “The HSUS is deeply concerned about this proposal and asks for further examination as to why it is necessary and/or warranted. Based on our analysis of the information received by the Commission, population data is non-existent and reports of conflicts with porcupines is very minor. The PGC’s own website notes that the apparent range of the porcupine does not extend across the state, and porcupine-caused damage over large areas is insignificant.”
In the meantime, Roze recommends the following measure be taken to minimize or eliminate damage caused by porcupines:
•Don’t build plywood camps or cabins in the woods. Use natural wood, which is not attractive to porcupines. Existing plywood structures can be shielded by application of a basal layer of 1-inch chicken wire.
•Since the primary porcupine-human conflict involves porcupine attraction to human salt sources, offer alternate salt sources such as scrap plywood or particle board placed some distance from the target. I have had good success in reducing porcupine roadkills along a salted stretch of NY highway by using this technique.
•Shield neoprene tires and hoses, which contain sodium and are attractive to porcupines.
•Porcupine winter damage to timber is concentrated near den sites and in young tree plantations. Porcupines can be trapped at their dens and removed.
If you want to help protect porcupines then contact the PGC and tell them “Please reconsider the decision to open a season on porcupines and restore their protection.” Comments can be sent to: email@example.com.