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Hunters take porcupines, but what does it mean?

| Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2012

The state apparently has plenty of porcupines, at least if you're willing to believe the least scientific of calculations.

Hunters killed an estimated 10,000 porcupines in 2011-12, the first season in which they were legal game, according to a survey done by the Pennsylvania Game Commission. No one knows, though, the size of the population from which that harvest came.

That generated varying levels of concern at the board's most recent meeting.

Commissioner Dave Putnam of Centre County said he had no problems with the harvest.

“I think if they were taken in the vicinity of someone's building or dwelling or whatever, it's a good thing,” he said.

He also said he suspects the state is home to more porcupines than anyone knows, based on the number of road-killed animals seen.

“From what I see on the road, 10,000 is a drop in the bucket,” Putnam said.

Commissioner Dave Schreffler of Bedford County said there's no way to know that without figuring out porcupine abundance and distribution, however. Counting roadkills doesn't count as research, he said.

“I think there should be some kind of study or something done to examine populations or their role in the ecosystem. We don't make decisions on other species without that background,” Schreffler said.

Commission president of Ralph Martone said the commission changed the rules regarding porcupines for this fall's season. Hunters will be limited to taking three a day and 10 per season. That's more than states like New York, where porcupines have no protection, he said.

“We did move forward with caution,” he said.

Bob Frye is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at or 7240838-5148.

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