Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Cow vs. Porcupine

Livestock and wildlife co-exist on all operations. For the most part this co-existence works great for both species because ranchers manage their operations in a way that continuously enhances and improves the land, which means they also improve wildlife habitat. Ranchers also manage nuisance animals that demolish the landscape, encroach upon other wildlife or livestock species, or who are predatory to the point they have a negative impact on other wildlife and/or livestock. 
The porcupine falls into the nuisance category. This animal lives on the bark of trees, and trees are scarce around here. Trees also aid in erosion control, are an important component of our ecosystem  and provide shade, to name a few benefits. Once a porcupine eats a trees bark, the tree dies, so as you may imagine they aren't overly welcome, and are eliminated when located. 
Then there are their quills, which many an animal has found painfully lodged in themselves when attempting to tangle with a porcupine. In severe cases these quills can lodge in the tongue and throat, causing extreme pain and possibly death.
The curious will also get stabbed with quills, usually in the nose as they walk along sniffing the porcupine, who will eventually get mad and whack them with his tail. When we weaned last week we spotted this cow of my brothers, who most likely got her quills as a result of being curious.
We hauled her home so that we could remove the quills. In this location, the quills would eventually get broken and/or worn off. They aren't life threatening, and more of a discomfort to her than anything. But, we didn't want her to have to suffer, so we readily took the time to remove this poky problem from her face.

Once caught, the guys went to work, using their leathermans to pull each quill, all while trying to keep the cow as calm as possible.

Ouch! But, not nearly as painful as dealing with the quills for several weeks or months. These aren't very deep, and I've seen cows and dogs with almost the entire quill stuck in them before.

 And so it goes, until they're all removed, and the cow is thoroughly checked to make sure none were missed.

Then she was turned back out. While not particularly happy or interested in dealing with a human for a few days, she was otherwise none the worse for wear. Now she will be able to eat, lick, move her nose, etc... without the painful quills constantly poking her.

1 comment:

  1. poor thing! that my nose hurt just looking at it. great photos as always!