Letters to the Editor

SUNY-ESF student calls for anti-abuse animal legislation

Last week, I had the opportunity to take a morning walk in the woods, I found the remains of a dead porcupine. It left me more than shaking my head, concurrently leading me to the series of questions. Where does man figure into the “natural balance?” A porcupine needed to feed on a tree bark for sustenance and man uses the sap from maple trees for commerce, hunts on porcupine to save trees for “Maple syrup?” People exploiting porcupines as “unwanted wildlife species” for what seems to be sport? We are competing animals as “Predators” would not be untrue!

The porcupine is the second largest North American rodent, notorious for destroying certain trees. Porcupines have been known to girdle tree bark, which can kill a tree.  Antagonistic to their quills’ conjecture, and contrary to conventional belief, porcupines do not throw their quills. Quills come off when an animal or person comes into contact with them. A porcupine is not an aggressive animal at all. In some Southwestern tribes, such as the Hopi, porcupines were believed to be a symbol of humility and modesty.

In New York state (NYS), animal protection law protects nearly all species of wildlife. As noted in Sunday post in many local NYS newspapers, dated May 29, 2016, close to a dozen porcupines were clubbed to death by a few teens along the border of Albany and Schoharie counties and a sheriff who came upon the scene was helpless and had no right to take action against this utter “physical abuse.” Spontaneously, on the next day of that incident, a resident of South Berne found porcupine beaten to death in southern Albany County, emailed a photograph of a porcupine to the sheriff.

Unfortunately, porcupines declared as a “nuisance wildlife” by DEC and therefore there is no protection law against killing them. Consequently, porcupines are more vulnerable to the risk of physical abuse as an “unwanted wildlife species.” Despondently to this date, there is no action being taken by DEC or anything heard in the news from animal welfare groups against “physical abuse and decimation” of unprotected wildlife species. After all, it is not about killing porcupines for their certain nuisance or hunting them for their quills; it is about “no utter physical animal abuse.” Even if porcupine is among unwanted wildlife, there are ethical reasons to prevent the misdemeanor.

Zainab Tariq

SUNY-ESF graduate student

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