Today is a research free day. We're going in to Halifax to look around and visit a museum or two. It's still too early in the season for Lunenberg which is where I thought we would be going. Everyone is a bit bummed about that, but it's apparently more for the tourists now, so it doesn't really start hopping until late May. Back to the porcupines. If you look at the picture of the Christmas trees growing the bottom branches are cut so there is a longer bare trunk. That is for ease of shaping and maintaining the trees. They are all balsam fir. As we do our porcupine damage surveys, we are only finding damage on spruce and birch. Part of that may be because the balsam grow too densely toward the ground and the porcupines can't get to the trunk very easily. When the tree farmers cut the lower branches off, they make it very easy to get to the trunk to cause damage. The scientists are hypothesizing that if birch and spruce were planted around the balsam, and/or if the lower branches were not cut off the balsam it would be
an inexpensive fix to the porcupine problem. There are many Christmas tree farms in the province. The scientists feel that porcupine could become endangered in Nova Scotia if a solution is not discovered. It is important to have a lot of solid data about your theory before presenting it to people who feel that their solution is fine. That's some of the data that Earthwatch volunteers are collecting. They only do porcupine damage surveys again when there is no green grass for the porcupine to eat. I've also posted a photos of what the forest looks like that we rode through. There is a lot of dead wood, but that is left to decompose and fertilize the forest. They selectively cut trees to open up the understory and provide more space for trees and better habitat for the animals. The trees are cut one by one and hauled out of the forest by horse. Just like the old days! The horse with the mane works pulling logs, and Travis our host said that pulling the wagon was more work than the logs. Although the logs probably weigh more, it is a burst of energy out of the forest with the logs and then a rest going back in empty. We were a steady load over a period of time. Well it's time for breakfast and then into Halifax.