Mort Mather Author Writer Organic Farmer Philosopher Thinker Restauranteur

How to improve your life and save the world.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Porcupines and gardens

I thought it was groundhogs eating my broccoli until the day I saw a porcupine up on hind legs munching happily. In my opinion the only good thing about porcupines is that they don’t run away relying on their quills for protection. The fisher is their only predator; fishers have learned to grab the porcupine’s nose, flip it over and attack its unquilled belly. Few porcupines have learned that Homo sapiens have learned how to shot a gun. The porcupine was still munching away when I returned. One down but I soon learned that was just the tip of the problem.
            Porcupines are generally nocturnal. Trying to protect my crops I pitched a tent next to the garden. Sure enough the animals woke me; I shot two in the Brussels sprouts and one in the apple tree that night. It took two years and about a dozen porcupines shot before I found an electric mesh fence that worked well for a couple of years. I thought the problem was solved. Since it is a bother (not much of one but nonetheless) and who wants to do something that isn’t necessary, I decided to wait until I had a problem before putting it up. At the first sign of damage I put up the fence but this time the animal managed to get through the fence.
            The porcupines won time after time. All they had to do was find a place they could get their nose under the fence and the quills would insulate them the rest of the way. I pegged the fence down where they got through and they found another way in. I pegged all the places they might be able to get through and they dug down far enough to make it. I got a motion detector camera thinking if I knew when they visited I could be waiting for them. There was no pattern to visitations. I got a motion detector that would turn on a light. That didn’t work.
            If you have a problem with porcupines, I think I can help. Things you need to know: 1) they like to eat corn, cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, apples, pears and the bark on trees, 2) they mostly eat at night but can sometimes be seen in the garden or eating grass at sunset 3) I’m convinced they can communicate something as complex as how to get under an electric fence 4) they are excellent climbers and if you are looking for them during the day, your best bet is to look up.
            Solution: 1) The electric fence is great. I have 20 inch VersaNet from  Put it up before the animals get a taste of your garden because once they find such delicacies they will be persistent in getting through. If they get through the fence, put it outside the garden on mowed sod as it is harder for the animals to dig under.
            Solution  2.) If the garden is close to the house and you have a gun, get a motion detector and set it up to pick up motion in the area they will be interested in. Set it up so the motion detector turns on a radio in your bedroom. You also need to have the motion detector turn on a light as it will not work with a radio alone.
            I hope you don’t have a problem as great as mine. I am still killing 6 to 10 porcupines a year.

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