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More than a pest, Science on Tap dives into all things porcupines


Porcupines are a fairly common sight in the Northwoods.

While the population appears to thrive, the species isn’t being monitored.

“They’re classified as an unprotected animal in Wisconsin. That’s means they’re not a game animal or non-gam animal. They’re just an animal. We don’t keep tabs on their population. We don’t have much information over time about how their populations been doing in Wisconsin,” said Jeremy Holtz, Senior Wildlife Biologist with the Wisconsin DNR.

When asked to be December’s Science on Tap Minocqua speaker, he was given his choice of topic.

Porcupines were an easy choice.

“There’s a lot of questions and confusion around porcupines and some of their life history or behaviors information. I get so many calls as a biologist here in the Northwoods, people having questions about porcupine problems, chewing on their siding, interactions with dogs, etc,” said Holtz.

Holtz says there’s a lot a misinformation about the animal.

One he corrects often is a porcupine’s ability to “shoot their quills.”

“That’s sort of true, but not at all like people think,” he said.

Holtz will be addressing that and other facts about porcupines at the Science on Tap Minocqua Wednesday, December 1.

He hopes by the end of the talk, people will think of porcupines as more than just a pest.

“Hopefully they come away with a greater appreciation for the value they have and some tips and tools for anything from how to deal with pulling quills out of your dog’s mouth to preventing that chewing I talked about,” said Holtz.

Science on Tap will be back in person. It starts at 6:30 p.m. at Oakfire Pizza in Minocqua.

It will also be streamed on YouTube, but not on zoom this time.

Katie Thoresen is WXPR's News Director/Vice President.
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