Alaska Department of Fish and Game
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North American Porcupine
Quills sewn onto deerskin used to be the trading wampum of the Northeastern Indian tribes. Quills are still used for decoration by the Athabaskans of Interior Alaska. Natives used to kill porcupines just for their quills, but today the Natives corner the animal and then tap the back of the animal with a styrofoam paddle to collect all the quills they need. The quills are dyed with locally obtainable vegetable materials and then sewn into skin clothing, earrings, and artistic items.
The porcupine can be easily approached and killed with a club because of its plodding gait. This trait has saved the lives of hungry Natives, trappers, and miners in times past. For this reason, although the hunting season is open all year with no bag limit, many people do not kill porcupines without cause. Some people find the meat too strong, but in some areas of the state, porcupines with their heavy layer of fat are considered a delicacy.