Porcupine painted as possible perpetrator

Vandals have already struck a brand new $313,000 bird blind at the Gaetz Lakes Sanctuary — and the chief suspect is a porcupine.

Vandals have already struck a brand new $313,000 bird blind at the Gaetz Lakes Sanctuary — and the chief suspect is a porcupine.

Birdwatchers were surprised earlier this week to see that some kind of animal had gnawed part way through a piece of treated lumber on the inside bottom level of the screened viewing platform.

While many people assumed the culprit was a beaver, Todd Nivens, programming co-ordinator with the Kerry Wood Nature Centre, believes beavers are too shy to have waddled up the wide entry platform into the blind.

“They don’t like to be that exposed.”

The brazenness of the act, along with the narrower teeth marks on the wood, indicate it was probably a porcupine, said Nivens, who added, “porcupines don’t have to be afraid because they have their spines,” and also love to chew wood.

Nivens took photographs of the damage and sent them on to city maintenance workers, who will probably wait to see whether further damage occurs before deciding whether to add protective mesh.

Nivens believes the chewing might have been a fairly rare and random act.

The new bird blind replaced an aging 25-year-old one that was becoming “dangerous” and was starting to sink into the mud. And Nivens doesn’t recall wildlife doing too much chewing on the previous one.

The new viewing platform, built just northeast of the nature centre, was pricey to install because special foundation screw piles were needed to ensure its stability on marshy ground. The wood was also specially treated to make it less toxic to the environment, said Nivens, who joked, “I guess somebody forgot to tell the wildlife that our new bird blind is very expensive and they shouldn’t eat it.”

He’s not sure yet if the gnawed piece of wood will be replaced, or just left there as an “interpretive accent” or curiosity.

lmichelin@reddeeracovocate.com