Porcupine damage to cottonwood trees along Montana's streams and rivers has at times been serious. Whatever the cause might be, sometimes our trees can incur trunk damage. Squirrels and other small mammals will also remove tree bark, but small animals make smaller tooth marks. Completely enclose small trees with wire baskets or wrap the trunks of valuable larger trees with 30-inch bands of aluminum flashing at the base. and may chew on it as well. Porcupines have four incisors—two above and two below that are bright orange, strong and adapted to gnawing. Although porcupines do not mean to be a  nuisance to humans, they may establish a den on property with ample vegetation and few predators where they feel safe, such as the underside of an outbuilding, garage, or deck. If you encounter a porcupine, you should back away slowly and leave it alone. Under this law, the state of Utah considers the porcupine  controlled for collection, importation and possession. They love to chew on plywood and pressed board. If a porcupine has young, transport the entire family if possible. Their favorite food item is corn on the cob. More importantly, the kind of damage they typically do to a tree is significant and will quickly cause stress making it vulnerable to disease. Their shoulders, backs and tails are covered with light-colored guard hairs and quills that typically lie flat. On larger trees that may be difficult. Porcupines can cause significant damage to pine trees. However, as people relocate to areas known as the wildland-urban interface or WUI, they may encounter trees that have been damaged byÂ. On larger trees that may be difficult. Porcupines primarily feed in the tree canopy throughout the winter by chewing evergreen needles, bark, twigs, and buds off trees. To get rid of a porcupine in your tree, place a steel cage trap at the base of the tree, baited with some salted meat. Damage. The Washington Forestry Protection Association estimates that a single foraging black bear can peel bark from as many as 70 young trees a day. Porcupines are mammals. Using an electric fence to protect trees … Stripping bark can girdle trees, resulting in branch dieback which shows up the year following the damage. This necessity of nature has led to the porcupine being disliked for the damage it can cause to trees near homes or businesses. We explain specific techniques for protecting trees and property from porcupine damage. Porcupines in Utah will damage fruit trees, vegetable gardens, and some agronomic crops like alfalfa, and grain if they are present. Trees will die if the damage is severe enough. While my brother and I were expanding and refurbishing the family hunting cabin, the damage by porcupines mounted to hundreds of dollars in material and dozens of hours of labor. All of these things have the potential to kill a tree because they expose the tree to insects, birds, disease and decay. Protection of trees through regular fencing, low strung electrical fencing, and trapping are the most efficient methods for reducing damage.Â. Porcupines are herbivores, and their love for plants is exceptional. Landscape damage caused by these animals can cost thousands of dollars to repair. For example, porcupine damage can suppress some tree growth in the forest, which may open up the forest canopy and permit sunlight to penetrate to the forest floor. Porcupine Ecology and Damage Management Techniques for Rural Homeowners. Many people consider porcupines to be a nuisance because of the damage they cause to trees and wooden structures. Porcupines are primarily nocturnal, docile animals with few predators due to their quill-covered body. Other Forestry Related USU Extension Pubs, https://wildlife.utah.gov/index.php/r657-19.html, https://wildlife.utah.gov/discover/utah-wildlife/107-discover/610-wildlife-rehabilitators-and-nuisance-control.html, https://www.fs.usda.gov/detailfull/r10/forest-grasslandhealth/?cid=FSEPRD566459%20&width=full, http://pcwd.info/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/1994Porcupines.pdf, http://www.wyomingextension.org/agpubs/pubs/B1073.pdf, https://www.wildawareutah.org/utah-wildlife-information/porcupines/. If you are concerned about your tree or have questions, please reach out to your local Extension Educator. If both porcupines and squirrels can feed on bark in the crowns of trees, how do you know which one is doing the damage? If porcupines are causing problems for your trees, you can protect them by placing a 60 – 75 cm metal band around each tree at a height of about 1 m off the ground. Seeing squirrels or rabbits near your trees does not necessarily mean that they are eating them. Trees with thin, smooth bark tend to be preferred, but any tree could potentially be at risk. If a porcupine girdles the trunk, however, the tree will die. Vegetables; Another thing they love to eat is vegetables. The North American porcupine (Erethizon dorsatum) is one of the most widely distributed herbivores and the second largest member of the rodent family in North America. For a gray squirrel the incisor widths vary from 1.3-1.7 mm, for a porcupine it’s nearly 3 … In addition, the pests are attracted to salt and will chew on items like wooden tool handles and canoe paddles. We recommend folding down the top of the fence outward at a 65° angle to further discourage curious porcupines. Short-legged and stout, a porcupine has a pronounced arch to its back. Properties with trees, ornamental plants and gardens may also be attractive to hungry porcupines. For this reason, conflicts with humans can be avoided and are unlikely. Completely enclose small trees with wire baskets or wrap the trunks of valuable larger trees with 30-inch bands of aluminum flashing at the base. Porcupines not only damage trees in the forest. Porcupines are also attracted to the resins in plywood (often used in outdoor decks, outbuildings, etc.) There are products you can apply to damaged trees that seal the outer bark to prevent further damage and infection. Extension in your Community > They can make a wide range of vocalizations that resemble the sound of a kazoo (listen here: https://youtu.be/m9H3z94ZuJ0). Stearns > The beaver is the only rodent in North America that is larger than the North American porcupine. If your tree is too far damaged, you will need to consider removing the tree. In the spring and summer, porcupines shift to eating berries, seeds, grasses, leaves, roots and stems. This will weaken the tree and make it more vulnerable to damage from diseases, insects, and birds. University of Wyoming Cooperative Extension. Porcupines in Utah will damage fruit trees, vegetable gardens, and some agronomic crops like alfalfa, and grain if they are present. ... hi , i have a hungry porcupine that last night chewed off quite a bit of bark off my little leaf linden. Their strong tails are able to grasp objects and also help to stabilize their bodies as they climb up and down trees. Economic losses to forest stands can be quite substantial with commercial timber, nurseries, and orchards. Internet Center for Wildlife Damage Management. Note: The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources provides the information on this page as a public service. Porcupines eat herbaceous plants, inner tree bark, twigs, and leaves (when present). In winter, remember to take snow height into consideration. There are products you can apply to damaged trees that seal the outer bark to prevent further damage and infection. 1999. The size of the tooth marks left in the wood is the key. Porcupines in trees eat … The bottom of the fence should be buried in the ground as deep as possible (12-18 inches is ideal). Our trees do a good job of letting us know the severity of the damage. If a porcupine den has been located, a trap can be placed very close to the opening and baited with nutritionally dense and salty foods such as cut fruit, peanut butter, sunflower seeds, or nuts. Often they will feed at or near dusk and early in the mornings. To get to it they have to remove the bark all the way down to the cambium layer of the tree, which is where the wood begins. In addition to plant material, porcupines crave salt and are attracted to objects that have salty human sweat on them, such as ax handles, boat oars, etc. Many people are often surprised to find out that removing tree bark can actually harm a tree. Exclusion. To protect specific (large) trees, place a 30 inch wide band of aluminum flashing around the trunk to prohibit porcupines from accessing the trunk at ground level. If a porcupine chews off an isolated section on a tree’s trunk, the bark will, in time, close over the wound. B-1073.19 pg. Carrie Frickman / DJ Case and Associates Fencing trees and gardens is the most effective way to prevent porcupine damage. Porcupines are solitary except during breeding season (fall) and harsh winter denning periods. Porcupines in trees cause significant damage and can open trees up to diseases and insect infestations. The name “porcupine” is very appropriate, coming as it does from the Latin porcus, meaning swine, and spina, meaning thorn. The porcupine is North America’s second largest rodent; only the beaver is bigger. Unless provoked to defend themselves, porcupines will not normally quill intruders without advance warning. At the Smithsonian's National Zoo, the porcupines eat herbivore pellets and a variety of fruits, vegetables and greens. Each of these animals has a distinct pattern when chewing on trees. Porcupines eat herbaceous plants, inner tree bark, twigs, and leaves (when present). Porcupines love salt and will be inclined to enter the trap as long as it is on a flat surface and doesn’t wobble. To a porcupine, your rose garden, berry patch, or vegetable garden, is simply irresistible. One porcupine can have up to 30,000 quills on its body and can regrow any quills that are released. This will prevent porcupines from being able to climb your trees. All of these things have the potential to kill a tree because they expose the tree to insects, birds, disease and decay. Trees with thin, smooth bark tend to be preferred, but any tree could potentially be at risk. Porcupines have their young from April to May and the juveniles stay with the females for the first summer of their lives. Significant gnawing on a larger tree may be repaired over time. Utah is centrally located in porcupine territory, but in Utah they are usually found in the woods away from people. Voles, rabbits, and squirrels are also known to do damage. They weigh 9 to 15 pounds, with bigger, older adults weighing up to 20 pounds. In addition, trees that are killed and felled due to porcupine damage can provide shelter and nest sites for other wildlife. If the damage isn’t severe enough to kill the tree it will be more susceptible to insects and disease. Please keep in mind, the porcupine, like all wild animals, is part of nature and plays a vital role in our ecosystem. A porcupine can strip a bark off a tree and kill it. If bark is stripped all the way in to the cambium then that part of the tree will die, though small wounds may eventually heal by new tissue growing from the edges of the wound. Gloves should be worn when handling the trap to keep human scent to a minimum and to protect your skin when transporting the caught porcupines. Populations today … 2) groundhog - We often forget that groundhogs can climb trees, and like tree squirrels will gnaw and strip bark like you are experiencing. Stripped bark exposes trees to disease, and those affected often die. Tree bark damage is not only unsightly, but can be deadly to a tree. In addition to plant material, porcupines crave salt and are attracted to objects that have salty human sweat on them, such as ax handles, boat oars, etc. Porcupines have strong, short legs for gathering food, and long claws on both their front and hind legs for efficient climbing. If this becomes a problem you may want to provide an alternate salt source such as a salt block to keep them from damaging structures. Damage to forest plantings, ornamental plants and orchards can … Multiple trees or an entire area can be enclosed in a single fence. This fact sheet describes the basic ecology and behavior of the porcupine and identifies ways to determine if porcupines are damaging trees on your property. The following information is included for homeowners interested in trapping nuisance porcupines themselves. Trees are often deformed from partial girdling. “The damage associated with porcupines is generally a result of their habit of gnawing on trees and wood products, [especially] during the winter when woody plants make up the bulk of the porcupine’s diet,” said Griffin Dill, integrated pest management specialist at the University of Maine. Small trees and shrubs cannot withstand as much damage as larger trees. On smaller trees you can cover the trunk so they can't chew the bark or climb the tree. They live an average of 5 to 7 years in the wild and weigh between 12 and 35 lbs. Porcupines are creatures of habit and will use the same feeding runs night after night. Porcupines pose more of a danger to other animals, primarily pets that may not heed porcupine forewarning. Most animal control officers suggest moving porcupines 10-20 miles away in a wooded area that is not inhabited by humans. How to get rid of porcupines. Depending on the season, porcupines eat a wide range of vegetation including bark, needles, leaves and the reproductive and readily eaten vegetative parts of woody plants, including nuts, seeds, fruits, and buds (these are considered mast). If unable to chew, the animal’s teeth would grow too long to be able to consume food and the porcupine would eventually starve to death. Grooved tooth marks approximately 5 mm wide are characteristic of porcupine damage. There are not overly effective and practical means of control for the porcupine when it comes to your trees. The spray nozzles on these products are also unlikely to reach the tops of trees where the porcupines are doing the damage. Stearns. Their diet changes seasonally. Wintertime is usually when the worst tree damage occurs because smaller vegetation is scarce. A list of professionals in Utah can be found by visiting the UDWR website at the following link https://wildlife.utah.gov/discover/utah-wildlife/107-discover/610-wildlife-rehabilitators-and-nuisance-control.html. Olson, R. & A. M. Lewis. Trees between 15 and 25 years — especially Douglas-fir, western hemlock and western red cedar … It is important to monitor these materials because they can physically damage the tree or girdle it if left on too long. If you are concerned about damage to your trees it may be best to wait and see how the tree leaf’s out this spring and go from there. Grooved tooth marks approximately 5 mm wide are characteristic of porcupine damage. Just because we are seeing slightly higher reports of porcupine damage this winter does not necessarily mean that the trend will continue. While porcupines may be a nuisance to homeowners with ornamental or fruit trees, their presence in the forest improves the function and diversity of these ecosystems. If the branch isn’t completely girdled, it will start to grow callus tissue over damaged areas in an attempt to recover. We are not alone with this issue as across the state reports of porcupine damage to trees have increased. Its skull is heavily constructed; the small, rounded head has a blunt muzz… Often they will feed at or near dusk and early in the mornings. A. Porcupines usually give themselves away first by their damage—clipped twigs, gnaw marks on trees or damage to tools and other wood or leather objects is noticed and cursed. Forest & Grassland Health, Porcupine Damage, USDA Forest Service. Multiple trees or an entire area can be enclosed in a single fence. They obtain nutrients primarily from: 1) sap flow caused by the damage, 2) the insects found under bark and in hollow trunks they have drilled out impressively symmetrical portals into, and 3) fruits and nuts. While porcupines may be a nuisance to homeowners with ornamental or fruit trees, their presence in the forest improves the function and diversity of these ecosystems. Whether is a building, wooden boat, horse saddles, trees, etc. Porcupines are not the only animal that damage trees in the winter months. Click on images to view full-size Porcupines do not carry any zoonotic diseases that are of concern to humans. Trees will die if the damage is severe enough. The amount of damage will determine whether or not the tree or shrub can survive. ST. This description fits the damage done by porcupines. Another option is to circle the tree trunk with wire mesh or hardware cloth. Animal repellent sprays may work but need to be reapplied every 40 days or after rain. They are vegetarians. 1. Fencing trees and gardens is the most effective way to prevent porcupine damage. Porcupine Damage to trees, trapping and relocating porcupines. In cooler weather, a porcupine feeds on conifer needles and gnaws on bark, which can cause conflict when it chooses to dine on a property owner's favorite oak. Interestingly, the quills of the North American porcupine are medicated with a topical antibiotic – a strategy that evolved to protect against “self-quilling”. Install 18 to 24 inch high woven wire fencing around gardens, orchards or specific areas of your property that require protection. Removing any attractants in your yard will help prevent nuisance porcupine occurrenceÂ. If you are finding damage on your property, you will need to act. The literal translation of this is “the irritable back.” The porcupine uses its sharp quills to inflict harm to any would-be predators that get within close range. They have their young from April to May and typically give birth to one ten-inch long “porcupette” that remains with its mother throughout the summer. Bark, living cambial tissue, soft tender stems, twigs, leaves, and fruit of trees are the major food source of porcupines. Electric fencing can sometimes work in small orchards. At this time we do not have a clear reason for this increase. On sunny days the pale wood where the bark has been stripped off really stands out in the woods. This will weaken the tree and make it more vulnerable to damage from diseases, insects, and birds. Whatever the cause might be, sometimes our trees can incur trunk damage. Their tails have the highest density of quills on their bodies and they can quickly flick their tails to lodge quills into the skin of whatever is threatening them. If the damage isn’t severe enough to kill the tree … Porcupines will also warn predators by making loud vocalizations. Damage Stripped bark exposes trees to disease, and those affected often die. Extension is expanding its online education and resources to adapt to COVID-19 restrictions. Fences work best if an electric hot wire can be added 1.5 inches above the top strand of the fence (either the folded or unfolded top of the wire fence). Using an electric fence to protect trees … County Horticulture Educator > Porcupine and squirrels feed on the bark of trees, stripping it from branches and main stems. We explain specific techniques for protecting trees and property from porcupine damage. Sometimes they remove large areas of bark on branches as well as on the main stem. In addition, porcupines produce significant damage to fruits, vegetables, corn, alfalfa and small grains. If porcupines remove the bark all the way around the trunk or a branch (girdling it), then the trunk or branch will be killed from that point up or out. Like beavers, porcupines prefer to eat the nutritious inner tree bark or phloem. Fencing small tree plantings, orchards, and gardens is effective in reducing porcupine … Porcupines and squirrels damage trees by eating the bark. Many people consider porcupines to be a nuisance because of the damage they cause to trees and wooden structures. Porcupines are generalists, eating a wide range of plant material. If you are facing a nuisance porcupine on your property, we recommend contacting a professional wildlife control officer for assistance in mitigating conflicts. Porcupines can cause significant damage to pine trees. Sometimes they are not noticed until a dog or livestock show up with quills in their nose and on their face. The damage reported starts at the top of the tree with the bark being stripped off the of the upper branches and progresses to the trunk. Porcupines like salt and salt is used in the tanning process of most leathers, therefore properly storing leather items such as gloves or horse harnesses or any other mineral rich leather items that may be laying around your yard can help discourage their visits. Trees will die if the damage is severe enough. CLOUD, Minn. (3/4/20) — Over the past month many people have called into the Extension office to report damage to their trees. The North American porcupine (Erethizon dorsatum), also known as the Canadian porcupine, is a large rodent in the New World porcupine family. Clipped twigs on fresh snow, tracks, and gnawings on trees are useful means of damage identification (Fig. This becomes even more important if the tree is near your home or other structure. This is particularly troublesome because porcupines prefer trees with smooth bark—as most decorative trees and shrubs have. Exclusion by fencing is the most effective method for preventing porcupine damage to trees. If the damage isn’t severe enough to kill the tree, it will be more susceptible to insects and disease. Porcupines eat herbaceous plants, inner tree bark, twigs, and leaves (when present). Extension > They are vegetarians. Their habitats extend from alpine forest ecosystems in Alaska to cottonwood stands throughout the West to Mexico, and across the northern U.S. from California to Maine. While porcupine can damage healthy trees, the biggest source tree damage in Washington State, especially in young trees, comes from black bears. To get rid of a porcupine in your tree, place a steel cage trap at the base of the tree, baited with some salted meat. The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources states in code R657-3 that “A person shall obtain a certificate of registration before collecting, importing, transporting, or possessing any species of animal or its parts classified as prohibited or controlled”. 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