Porky the Porcupine

©copyright 2015 Glyn (Bud) Roberts

In the spring of 1951 Len Shucha, Vilas County Highway Department Superintendent, brought Glyn and Marie Roberts an infant porcupine that he had found ambling along a road.

The little creature was promptly named Porky and was caged in a large screened live box.  It soon because evident to the Roberts’ couple that they had an unhappy wild creature that missed its freedom.  By late afternoon, with many Blue Island Resort guests present, the live box was opened and Porky quickly emerged and climbed the nearest tree behind the lodge.

Assuming this was a farewell and an appropriate send off for the lonesome little character, no one expected it to return.  However, the next afternoon Porky appeared at the kitchen door of the lodge.  As a welcome back reward Marie gave it several slices of bread. 

The following day Porky returned in the evening to find the kitchen door closed.  Glyn and Marie were busy with guests in the lodge store and barroom when Porky arrived at that entrance.

After a series of grunts and scratching sounds Glyn opened the screen door allowing Porky to amble in brushing the tile floor with its quills.  Standing upright and sniffing its surroundings signaled its strong interest in having more bread.

A Bunny brand bread rack held a variety of baked goods and held great attraction.  Soon a whole loaf of white bread was opened and placed on the floor.

Porky ate the entire loaf by holding each slice in its front paws.  Flashing camera lights did not distract Porky from its nightly meal that occurred usually between nine and eleven each evening.

As the summer progressed it learned to open the screen door in spite of the strong closure spring.

Porky had a strong preference for white bread over any other kind.  At the close of the summer screen Porky quit coming out of the woods in October.

Deer season arrived and Glyn advised the hunters about Porky and told them not to shoot any porcupines on resort lands.  He was told by a state game manager that seven years was about maximum for a porcupine’s life span in the wild.

As the years went by Porky continued to return each spring and make the evening visit regularly.  No one knew if Porky was a male or female until about the tenth year.  One summer day in 1961 Marie found a baby porcupine resting under a balsam tree in front of the lodge.  She assumed that it was Porky’s youngster but could not be sure until it arrived that night with Porky for a handout.

The new visitor became known as Needles and quickly adapted to its mother’s routine in the presence of numerous resort guests and flash bulbs.  Both mother and infant remained at ease in the store as Porky took time out to nurse her infant.

Marie was able to coax Needles on to a kitchen broom and tow it about the room for nightly rides.  After that one summer together Needles did not return with Porky, although her mother completed thirteen years.

In 1954 the Roberts couple purchased a winter home north of the resort known as Knob O’ Pines.  Porky arrived early each spring, thereafter, on the porch railing of that house nightly until they moved back to the resort lodge for the summer.

In 1964 Glyn and Marie sold the resort and retired.  That same fall they discovered Porky had passed on when they found her under a cottage.

It was one of those rare privileges that some people get to experience the life of a wild creature, up close.  Being able to interact with them in a manner similar to that of a household pet was a bit unusual.

Porky was able to enjoy her freedom as a wild animal and yet maintained a non-hostile relationship with humans.