The Official magazine of Western Canada's Game Warden Associations
Spring 2011 Issue


The Cop and the Quiller'

            I received a call from dispatch to assist a distraught female on an Alberta highway. “The female states that there is a big porcupine in the middle of the highway and is alive but severely injured.” As no rural members were available I responded to the call. En route I was updated that the caller would be staying on scene until officers arrived as the porcupine was very big and she didn't want anyone else to hit the porcupine and damage their car. Now being from Nova Scotia and having seen quite a few porcupines growing up, I wondered, how big is this thing? Becoming somewhat concerned with what I may have just gotten myself into, I asked my fellow officers, "how big can a porcupine be?"

            This is when I was informed that porcupines can be the same size as a medium-sized dog. Presuming they were pulling my leg I attempted to continue on without thinking too much about this. However, internally I was thinking to myself this thing is the size of a small dog, has quills that can poke me, and is obviously tough as nails since it has been hit by a car and is still alive. I also remembered that I had heard that they can shoot their quills when in danger. This is when I realized that I wasn’t facing some poor innocent animal but in reality a tough as nails killing machine.

            Attempting to gain some sort of tactical advantage I phoned my dear friend from Fish and Wildlife and asked, "Do porcupines shoot their quills?" Sounding somewhat annoyed that I bothered him after 10 pm he informed me that no, this is actually an old wive's tale and that porcupines can not shoot their quills. I then asked for any sort of insight he could provide into how to safely deal with this animal. Being an animal expert and highly trained in tactical maneuvers he informed me to get a really long stick. I could swear that I heard him giggling under his breath as he told me this.

Quiller

            When I arrived on scene I could see a car pulled over in the westbound driving lane. Its headlights seemed to be illuminating something on the highway. At first it seemed like it may be a small bear, but then I realized it was actually what I can only describe as the biggest porcupine I've ever seen in my life. The female, obviously in distress, approached me as I parked my police cruiser well back from the porcupine, attempting to provide myself a place of concealment and cover for my retreat if things turned against me. The female told me that she had hit the porcupine and when she realized it wasn't dead felt terrible so returned to see what she could do. Felt terrible? I thought, I'd just be thankful I'm still alive after hitting this super porcupine. She also said that her father farmed in the area and she was going to call him to help but called the RCMP as she figured we would be better suited to deal with this. Apparently I missed the day in training where they teach us how to deal with porcupines the size of small compact cars.

            Realizing that Fish and Wildlife don't work past 7 pm she phoned the RCMP for assistance. She then went on to tell me that after she hit the porcupine, another car came by and hit it and then along came a transport truck and it hit it too. However the porcupine still was not dead. I thought, lady what did you just get me into? This is not a normal porcupine, this is some sort of demonic all-powerful porcupine sent to earth for no reason other than to pick off poor unsuspecting RCMP officers.

            I could already see the headline in the newspaper: Hero Mountie quilled by Porcupine. Having confirmed with Fish and Wildlife on the way to the call that in fact porcupines could not shoot their quills, I still approached the porcupine with trepidation. After all who really trusts Fish and Wildlife? As I approached the porcupine it seemed as if all light disappeared into an abyss. With my complainant now having fled back to her car I realized that I was on my own. I got close to the porcupine and that's when it happened. It turned in a vicious circle flailing its quill-filled tail at me hoping to end the fight in one swift movement. With a move taken straight out of the movie The Matrix, I was able to avoid the quills by mere inches and thus, realizing his ruse hadn't worked, the porcupine turned to face me. 

            Knowing that I had to keep my distance to avoid being taken by his quills of death I checked my trunk for my RCMP approved porcupine fighter—my snow shovel. I approached the porcupine again clutching my snow shovel tightly in both hands and trembling with nervousness and anticipation. The porcupine did not seem to be moving, however having learned from my first experience I knew that in reality this porcupine was simply playing possum. Attempting to lure me into his kill zone the porcupine looked, for all intent and purposes, as if he had finally succumbed to his injuries. I repositioned to tactically approach from the rear, attempting to get in behind him and heave him into the ditch with one good shovel swing. Realizing that it was now or never, I made my move. However, as soon as metal hit porcupine the fight was on again. His head jerked back and he snapped his steely jaws. I jumped back just in the nick of time, knowing that backup was too far away to help me now and realizing that retreat would mean certain death.          

            This time I was able to move the porcupine a few feet before he scurried off the end of the shovel and swung his tail of death straight for my throat. Realizing that my only avenue of retreat now was back into the south ditch and not being sure that this wasn't in fact a porcupine ambush, I closed the distance and scooped like I never scooped before. Once the porcupine was on the end of my snow shovel I heaved with all my might. The porcupine sailed 4 to 5 ft. before landing on his feet. I thought only cats did that! He then made a break for the north ditch.

            As I pursued him into the ditch he made his move, and I realized my folly. Rounding on me and baring his teeth, I could finally see that this was his plan all along; to get me off the highway and into the grass. In one expertly executed manœuvre he had brought me into his territory and rendered my snow shovel useless as everyone knows a snow shovel loses its effectiveness in grass. Nonetheless, after a few more minutes of battle I was able to humanely dispatch this poor porcupine—a task that any man or woman does not enjoy.

            Visibly shaken and just thankful I was still alive I went to check on the female complainant. A look passed between us and we both knew what had just happened was something we'd tell people for years to come and those not there would never truly understand. It was not merely the dispatching of a super porcupine but a battle between good and evil itself and on this day good had triumphed. We parted ways and I went back to shift not entirely believing what had just happened and on some level not wanting to believe it.

Author; Unknown

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