Human-wildlife conflict – Porcupines

There are simple ways to minimize human conflict with porcupines, which can be a nuisance in urban settings.

About Porcupines

  • Porcupines are primarily nocturnal and often rest in trees during daylight hours.
  • The bulk of their diet consists of plants, leaves and inner tree bark.
  • Porcupines cannot throw their quills. A quilling happens when a porcupine embeds its quills into the intruder with a quick slap of its tail.
  • Porcupines do not normally quill intruders without advanced notice. Porcupines will communicate when they are feeling threatened by vocalizing, displaying their quills and clattering their teeth. Be cautious if you see these signs, and back away slowly, as they mean a quilling may be imminent.

How porcupines can be a nuisance

  • Porcupines can cause significant damage to personal and public property by feeding on trees.
  • Porcupines are rodents that need to sharpen their teeth, so they may chew on wood in your backyard.
  • Porcupines feed on salt and salt residue, and have been known to chew on leather items and even the brake lines of vehicles.

What to do about the porcupines on your property

  • Fence off valuable orchards, gardens and anything else that may be susceptible to porcupine damage. To protect individual trees, wrap the trunks in aluminum flashing.
  • Keep all your tools and leather goods locked away in a shed or garage.
  • Keep your dog on a leash when outdoors, especially if you suspect that there's a porcupine in the area. Dogs are often unable to resist investigating nearby porcupines and may suffer for their curiosity with a nose full of quills.
  • Porcupine may be hunted, but not trapped, without a licence at all time of the year. Consult your municipality for any firearms restrictions which may apply.


Download in-depth information about porcupine control from The Handbook: Prevention and Control of Wildlife Damage, published by the University of Nebraska:


Your municipality or municipal district is authorized to help with porcupine concerns. Local pest control companies may also be able to provide advice or service.