In recent months, a number of homeowners in Mountain Village have noticed porcupine damage on their young, landscape trees – bark stripped from trees and girdling of the main stem. It’s also been noted that porcupines have done quite a bit of property damage to home structures. Both these issues were discussed at the February Town Council meeting. Although this is a private property matter, the Town Council directed the town’s Recreation Department to follow-up with any site visit requests from homeowners to survey the potential porcupine damage. The town has no intention of earmarking funds to eradicate this creature. Instead, Mountain Village will use communication resources, like this one, to educate the community about porcupines. It will be up to the individual homeowner as to how they want to resolve their porcupine problem.
Porcupine Feeding Habits and How to Prevent Damage to Your Property
As long as there is a desirable food source – young, juicy conifers – porcupines will feast. This particular animal tends to feed on the tops of mature trees due to their tender growth. This does not kill the tree, but it causes lateral branching where the terminal branches are removed. Trees most susceptible to mortality are young saplings where porcupine feeding results in basal girdling. This leaves the tree open to infection and/or susceptible to burrowing insects attracted to the wound. Porcupines are also fond of succulent plants such as roses, pansies, all types of berries and other garden favorites. Further, they can cause damage to homes and other structures – they seem to like the laminate glue that is used in plywood and particleboard and other salt-treated wood objects like doorframes.
Porcupines are nocturnal feeders, therefore they are seldom seen. This leads people to believe the damage is caused by other critters. To protect your mature trees, place a 30-inch wide band of aluminum flashing around the tree trunk to prevent bark chewing at ground level. For small trees, a wire basket or fencing may be used to keep them off of trees. Repellents, such as thiram, can be sprayed to discourage porcupine chewing, but the chemical will have to be reapplied frequently. Other repellants that may work include cayenne pepper and various soaps. If the damage continues, other options include trapping and removal. For more information regarding porcupines, or if you would like to request a site visit, please contact the town’s Parks and Recreation Department at 970/369-8215.