Thursday, April 15, 2010
Getting the data!
Today was varied as usual. We started the morning by checking our traps, and it turned out we had caught 4, all of which had been caught yesterday as well. Then we released the voles and reset the traps with new food. Before lunch we did a survey of porcupine damage along the road. Remember that porcupines eat bark in the winter and early spring before there are greener things to eat. And remember how we looked at the layers of a tree cookie? The layer close to the bark is responsible for bringing nutrients to the growing tree. Those same nutrients are tasty for the porcupine as well. They seem to prefer birch trees and spruce trees here. What do you think will happen to the tree if the porcupine eats too much of the bark? That's right, the tree will die. The clever animal usually eats patches of bark only on one side of the tree, so the tree will be around to munch on later! The real problem is that one of the big industries around here is forestry. Farms that grow and sell spruce trees for Christmas think of porcupines as pests and will kill them in order to protect their source of income. Chris and Christina are working on collecting data so they can offer solutions to people in order to keep the porcupines from being killed. One idea is to simply plant birch trees, which are extremely common and not used by people here, around their spruce farms. They are much easier for the porcupine to eat and so they won't be tempted to nibble on the spruce as well. It is important to keep in mind how much of an impact people have on the survival of animals, even in ways you wouldn't think of at first. So, today I helped save the porcupine!