Friday, November 11, 2011

Putting the porcupine problem into its proper perspective

It was Tuesday, four days post-porcupine sighting. Smooch was adjusting to guarding the living room instead of the back porch from sunset 'til bedtime, and I was adjusting to taking out Smooch on a leash for her last potty break of the night. Neither of us was too happy about our new world order, but I was taking no chances with a porcupine possibly on the prowl.

Anyway, we went for our walk and returned home when there was barely enough light to see. We were halfway up the driveway, in about the same spot where I took the picture below. Roll your mouse between the margin and the picture and you'll get an idea of how dark it was. You'll also get an idea of who else entered the picture.


Crap, I thought, and proceeded to walk Smooch as fast as I could to the house. My heart started beating really fast because 
I had already decided that if I ever saw the porcupine again, I should shoot it. It posed too great a danger to Smooch.

So I grab my gun and a flashlight and walk back out to the tree. I was standing right about where I took the picture below. 
You know the drill by now - roll your mouse over the photo...


The porcupine had climbed the tree and was taking a little nap. I looked at the porcupine, then I looked at my gun,
then I said to myself, "I am so glad it's too dark to take a shot because I really don't want to do this."

I went back in the house and pondered. And googled. And pondered some more.

Really, what's the point of shooting one porcupine? The rest of his family must be hanging out in this vicinity, and there are probably hundreds more of them beyond my property. I can't shoot them all. They were here long before I was and have been minding their own business all this time. Instead of picking them off, I need to figure out a way for us to peacefully co-exist.

In all probability, the porcupine who paid us a visit last Friday night entered Smooch's yard by climbing the coyote fence - 
that's what we call those tree limbs lining the wire fence in the picture above.
In this case, it's not serving as a real fence – it just hides stuff that I'd rather not look at.


So yesterday, I took the coyote fence down.


Smooch: Wow! Look how much easier it is to see trespassers. I could get used to this.


Me: You can see trespassers and I can see the propane tank. Oh, well. A small price to pay for peace of mind. 
Let's pray that those pesky porcupine perpetrators won't prowl around in your playpen now.


33 comments:

  1. Hope that you have your problem solved. Saw a tv show the other night about a country vet and a man brought in two dogs that had been 'hit' by a porcupine. Eeeek ... what a mess! It's best to keep Smooch and her playpen porcupine free.

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  2. A small price to pay... a view...for the safety of your yard and Smooch. Plus, I think I see a smile on Smooch's face for his new view!

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  3. I too, would have had a hard, if not impossible, time shooting the porcupine, despite the danger. Your rationale was good and accurate.

    After your first post on this, I commented about being glad I didn't have porc's to worry about but just skunks. So last night on our bedtime walk around the neighborhood, guess what we ran into?! Thank goodness my dogs were leashed!

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  4. I don't think I could have shot it either...sigh...just keep your eyes open for the critter!

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  5. Now that you know where he hangs out, perhaps you could humanely trap him and release him somewhere else in the middle of nowhere?

    I wonder how big their territory is. My perception is that they don't move very quickly. But I could be wrong about that.

    Good luck with your new problem. :(

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  6. This city dweller would rather look at a propane tank than her &*%^&*%^# neighbour eh!

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  7. Estella from Co.11/11/11, 6:42 AM

    It isn't just Smooch you have to worry about....if that porcupine is walking across the pasture the kids can get a nose full,too, as curious as they are. You have such a sweet spirit and kind heart, but sometimes you just need to protect yourself and critters. I don't like getting rid of them, but I have to protect my own. If he climbed up the outside of the fence with the coyote fence then how did he get out if you didn't have the fence on the inside as well??? They are pretty good climbers. I for one think you should have taken your shot. Hug the kids for me.

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  8. Thank you for honoring the porcupine's life. Now you have a good load of wood for winter AND you have a more defensible space against wildfire next summer! Smooch will keep that porky away with his fierce bark.

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  9. If Smooch ever does get quills, pull them straight out- and don't cut the tops off them. I had dogs once that would team up to kill porkies- one German Shepherd) would go in first and take the quills from its throat area and the other (Siberian Husky) would go in for the kill. It got so they'd come and sit in front of me tail waggin' waiting for me to pull quills. Over 250, one time just on one dog.

    The bright side- now you have lots of firewood!

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  10. It sounds like a good compromise. I would also hate to have to shoot one of them. Quills can be gotten out although it might take a veterinarian to be sure it was done right. After that Smooch might get the idea ;)

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  11. Estella, I hear you about the equines - I've got to believe their instincts will prevail over their curiosity.

    When I found the porcupine in Smooch's yard, he was pacing up and down the fenceline - looked to me like he couldn't figure out how to get out, so I left the gate open and he was gone the next time I checked.

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  12. Funny - we had the same dilemma with the 8' ALLIGATOR that regularly crawled up out of the lake onto our back lawn. Kill? Trap? Or be "good neighbors", recognizing that he was here long before us. Like you, we also chose your option and let Mother Nature choose - we kept our distance from him and eventually "Alley Dasha" found a new home somewhere else. Too bad about the coyote fence, though! It had such charm. Can't you rebuild it on another fence line to restore the character to 7MSN?

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  13. If the porky couldn't climb out on the wire side of the fence, could you put the coyote fence on the inside? I've always liked the look of it, especially with cattle skulls propped upon it. And propane tanks are ugly... Just thinking.

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  14. This is exactly why I'm reluctant to be a rancher woman. I couldn't shoot anything. (I mean I'm a great shot, but only targets). Hope this solves the wandering porcupine issue.

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  15. We had porcupines problems when I was growing up in the mountains outside of Carrizozo NM. The dogs got into them several times. We shot several of them and for some reason they are ridiculously hard to kill, sometimes taking several shots. Better if you can co-exist. Porcupines usually hang out in the trees during the day. I bet he is snoozing in one of your nearby trees. They also eat the bark off of trees so you might notice some branches getting gnawed on. What about putting up a couple panels alongside the propane tank and putting the coyote fence back up along it so you can't see it from the house?

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  16. Ah, peaceful co-existence, always a good choice!

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  17. I imagine that porcupine is looking for a way to get at the chickens. Hopefully he doesn't wake Wynonna from her slumber if he goes near the barn. She doesn't look like a girl who appreciates being woken from her slumber.

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  18. Yeah, I'm a good shot too but I don't like shooting anything but targets unless it's absolutely necessary. Hope the new fence configuration solves the porky problem.

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  19. I'm glad you didn't shoot the little prickly guy. When my mom was growing up on a farm in Poland, they had porcupines who would come into the orchard every fall and roll around when the apples fell off the tree. She has always told me that one of the funniest things she remembers is the little parade of porcupines marching back to their winter hideaway with a coat of red apples poking out of their quills.

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  20. You're such a good person Carson. I was thinking as I read this, "Is she REALLY going to shoot the porcupine?" I'm so glad you didn't. He's just chillin :)
    Can't wait for more stories :)

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  21. Practical Problem-solving prevents Prickly Predicaments.

    Well done.

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  22. too funny Cathy R!
    Linda, you are a smart, intuitive, and compassionate woman. If more people would take the "peacefully co-exist" attitude in this life -with nature and each other - then this would be such a better world. I do pray this resolves the concerns for Smooch..... I'm sure you will keep us posted! And I always love your artwork on your photos!

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  23. Co-existing is the best choice. Good call Carson. They are not aggressive creatures and are herbivores, or so Google tells me. I actually got to pet one once that lived at a nature conservation :D I hope the change in the fence works out!

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  24. It's not just Smooch you have to be concerned about. About a month ago one of my horses had a nose full of quills-about 25. We attempted to remove them, got a couple out, and had a very angry mare. A couple hours later, and drugs from the vet they were all quietly removed. I'm located in rural north Dakota

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  25. Delurking to say keep your salt licks and bones away from the house. Porkies like salt. Not much you can do about urine in the ground.
    Get a pair of good vice grip pliers. The quills release on contact, so if you don't have an animal that keeps going after the porky the quills won't go in very deep. Grab the quill, which is hollow, close to he skin and give it a good a straight out yank. The quills have micro-barbs so usually take more pull than you would expect.
    From my practice experience, once an animal tangles with one once, it usually stays away from them. However, if you have an animal with a high prey drive, they may not learn from the first encounter.:-)

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  26. When you live in the country, it's always something. Snakes, raccoons, opossums, coyotes, bobcats, bears, mountain lions are a few more that are fun to see when they're not right outside your yard. Oh, and when you have chickens and cats there are also owls and hawks to worry about. And if you have a garden, deer and rabbits. It's always hard to find a good balance. Usually if there's no food source, though, they'll travel on. Do you find it's a bigger problem in the fall, when food is starting to get scarce?

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  27. I love my dog. I have a deep relationship with my dog. Love means to protect and provide. I have no use for skunks or porcupines. I don't need my neighbors free roaming cats, either. There are plenty of wild zones for them to occupy elsewhere. If you eliminate the pests that are in your domestic zone it dramatically reduces the chances of your dog or other animals suffering needlessly. It isn't a perfect solution, just a sound statistical solution.

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  28. could you paint the propane tank to blend in a bit? Smooch does look happy at a bigger view!
    I couldnt shoot it either!

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  29. Had to get Vet. for a jenny, Quills in the front legs where she tryed to stomp it, and quills in the rear leg where she kicked it. Never found the porcupine!

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  30. Have you considered a live trap?

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  31. How about putting live fencing wire on the outside of the fence close to the ground so the porcupine can't get to the fence? I'm assuming from the pictures that the outside is really outside and not facing the equines. Then you could put the coyote fencing back up. Would it look ugly if the coyote fence didn't go all the way to the ground? Smooch could have her window below and you could have blocking on the upper half.

    I am worried about the chickens too. On that side I would put an electric wire part way up so the porcupine could only get up half way before getting zapped and Wynonna and the chickens can wander around without getting zapped. Oh - wait - what about the amazing flying Eugenia? Scratch that idea. I'm just so worried about the chickens.

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  32. I just had another idea. When they caught and released a bear that was getting too comfortable in our neighborhood they did the release in such a way so the bear would never want to come back. They harassed the heck out of the bear, shot bean bags and had specially trained dogs bark and chase the bear out of the area. The bear has NEVER come back.
    What about harassing the porcupine? Get a b-b gun (or something that will sting but not maim) and annoy him so much he won't want to stay around. Next time he snuggles up in the tree, make his life miserable.

    Still worried about the chickens... and Alan's sweet nose, and dear, dear Smooch, and... well you know.

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  33. Don't worry about the chickens, porcupines eat bark, not birds.

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