Marie Bartholf did not expect the birthday present she found Monday morning on the front porch of her south Kennewick home.
An adult porcupine held her and her husband Loren "hostage" at their home, 1714 S. Cleveland Court in south Kennewick for 1 1/2 hours, she said.
The Bartholfs were about to step out of their door on their way to the Tri-City Court Club for their daily exercise when two women stopped to warn them about the prowling porcupine.
When they looked outside, they were stared down by the 25-pound prickly rodent, which was standing its ground, said Marie Bartholf.
"It's my birthday today and I looked out the window and thought: What kind of birthday present is this," said the 76-year-old.
So how do you get a porcupine off your porch?
"It's quite a sequence of events," her husband said.
First, the couple called animal control, which told them it doesn't handle wild animals. Then they called 911, which contacted Kennewick police. That call led them to Blaine Nalder of Pasco, a private nuisance wildlife control operator.
About an hour later, the Bartholfs watched as Nalder cornered the animal and deftly maneuvered it into a cylindrical cage.
"Oh, my cage is going to smell now," declared Nalder after securing the nocturnal herbivore. The animals apparently impart a glandular odor when distressed, and this was one distressed porcupine.
On close inspection, Nalder found the porcupine suffered a badly infected right eye and a wood tick next to the other.
Not good news for the porcupine.
"I'll either take it out to the Blue Mountains and release it, or I'll have to put it down," Nalder said, explaining that the porcupine's chances of recovery and survival were slim with an eye in such poor condition.
He is taking a few days to assess the animal's health.
"I think it peed on the porch," said Loren Bartholf, as he looked around his porch with his wife once the coast was clear.
So with the excitement abated and the porcupine off to its fate, the Bartholfs resumed their plan to hit the gym, catch a movie and grab an afternoon happy hour dinner special at P.F. Chang's. And, perhaps ironically, to get Marie Bartholf to her eye appointment.
w Paul T. Erickson: 582-1536; firstname.lastname@example.org