Pennsylvania’s porcupines are apparently on the move.
The Pennsylvania Game Commission doesn’t have a lot of information on this species at all, admitted Matt Lovallo, its game mammals section supervisor. What little it does have is anecdotal.
But that evidence, at least, suggests the species is expanding its range.
According to information on sightings from wildlife conservation officers , increasing numbers of porcupines are being seen throughout the state’s southern tier. Traditionally, they have been most common in the north, especially north of I-80.
The porcupine’s growth is occurring simultaneous with hunting.
The commission adopted a porcupine season starting in 2011. Hunters took about 10,000 that first year. That climbed to about 14,000 in 2012 and 15,000 in 2013 before dropping to 12,000 or so again last year.
The current season began Sept. 1 and runs through March 31.
Game take surveys indicate that porcupine hunters are really sportsmen out after other things, Lovallo said.
Fifty-five percent of hunters who have killed a porcupine said it was the only one they got that season, he said. Eighty-five percent of successful hunters took fewer than three in a year.
By comparison, figures show that only 2.5 percent of hunters in any given year have ever taken their season limit of 10.
“This would suggest to us it’s really an incidental take,” Lovallo said.
Meanwhile, commissioners backed away from reclassifying porcupines as a furnbearer.
“But I’m going to work with staff, and I expect to make that request in next year’s regulations,” said commissioner Dave Putnam of Centre County.