A Wild Porcupine Adventure

Posted By Wolf Ridge Naturalist
February 10, 2014

The class is North Woods Mammals…The group of twenty from Oak Park Elementary and I have already descended the “Stairs of Health and Happiness” off of the ridge and into the valley below… yes all 245 steps later. We are searching intently for signs left behind by warm blooded, fur bearing, milk drinking, live-birth-giving creatures of the forest.


Fresh porcupine chew marks on a young spruce tree


The wild porcupine on a nearby maple tree

Our first discovery is of a deer mouse; tiny footprints hopping on top of the snow, not more than a quarter of an inch in length or width. The curious trail soon disappeared down into a deep snow tunnel. As we hiked on we kept our eyes keen. A few of us almost jumped out of our boots when a Grouse exploded from it’s warm chamber underneath the snow! We continued on the journey and filled our data sheets; recording deer tracks, red squirrel caches, and the bounding tracks of a pine marten. Then it happened…

As we passed the winter survival site, we began to see bows of balsam fir and green evergreen needles scattered across the snow. A trough of snow plowed away revealed a worn trail created by a large rodent. Urine and scat led us to a den site in the bottom of an old, hollowed-out birch tree. Being astute wildlife observers, we didn’t stop there. The trail led us from the den, to a large White Spruce tree. And there he was! A wild porcupine sitting on a branch! As we tried to stay quiet and observe Miss. Pokey in all her glory, she calmly glanced down and then continued to nom-nom-nom away; clearly uninterrupted. Leaving class that day I felt lucky to work in a place where the wild porcupine roams the treetops.