Maybe you're like me and you've lived in cities your whole life, so you might not know this, but porcupines are assholes.
Maybe you’re like me and you’ve lived in cities your whole life, so you might not know this, but porcupines are assholes. They chew on everything from trees to leather jackets to telephone wires, and they hang out under your deck and stick your kids and pets with quills and spread fleas and ticks all over the goddamn place. Assholes. Yeah, yeah, humans “invaded” porcupines’ habitat and destroyed the ecosystem, I know—if you’re one of those PETA people who will make sure all the possums and rats living in your basement are living comfortable lives, have fun eating wheat paste and being incredibly boring at parties. The point is, in some parts of the country, porcupines are a severe nuisance for people to deal with.
Last April, the state of Pennsylvania had an idea for how to deal with their porcupine problem: Let people hunt the little buggers. A pretty good idea, combining Pennsylvanians natural love of firing guns and killing animals with their natural hatred of quilled rodents.
What followed was what I imagine to be a golden age of orderly and appropriate ‘pine slaughter. But last week, just five months after the beginning of the inaugural porcupine-hunting season, the Pennsylvania Game Commission panicked and changed course by drastically reducing the amount of porcupines hunters are allowed to kill. This was in response to “intelligence reports” that people were hunting ‘pine so they could sell the sweet, succulent meat on the “black market” in Vietnam. The article on Philly.com is a little confusing, because although the commission is apparently worried about this Penn-to-Nam porcupine meat pipeline, “no known porcupine trading was taking place.” So were people shipping porcupine meat to Southeast Asia (which seems really logistically demanding) or not?
It seems more likely that the change in policy is motivated by fear of something happening, rather than a Mark Trail-esque ring of black-market meat. The article also notes “no studies on population, geographical range, or damage preceded the decision” to allow porcupine hunting in the first place, suggesting that the Pennsylvania Game Commission is just making up this shit as it goes along. Porcupines are annoying, so why not kill them? Oh, crap, maybe people will sell the meat—better cancel hunting season!
The weirdest sidenote to this story is that in Pennsylvania, it’s legal to sell porcupine quills—say, to a Native American, or “Native American” crafts dealer. But you can’t sell the meat that the quills are attached to; you have to eat it yourself or toss it out, which is a mysterious regulation if there ever was one. As far as I know, the Pennsylvanian porcupine population hasn’t been hunted to extinction for their quills, so why would they be hunted to extinction for their meat? Is Vietnam’s hunger for rodent meat so insatiable that hundreds of thousands of porcupines will be massacred as a result of a porcupine hunting season? Somehow, I don’t think so.
And if people want to sell ‘pine meat (which is apparently delicious) to Vietnam, why not let them? If the Vietnamese can sell Pennsylvanians electronics and clothing they manufacture, why not let Pennsylvanians sell Vietnamese some tasty meat? The way globalization is going, America’s going to need as many exportable goods as it can get its hands on.
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