Beaver damage – a problem that creates beauty. Now what do we do?
We had a surprise, unwelcome discovery in the woodlot late in the summer. Steve discovered a beaver lodge and bog a few hundred yards from the house. It looks like I need to spend more time poking around in the woodlot to see what’s happening out there. Beaver damage can happen fast and I don’t want the little buggers to get any further ahead of us than they already have.
The beaver lodge is four feet tall and six feet wide. There hasn’t been any recent activity in the area, probably because of the drought conditions. They’ve chosen a poor spot for their home, a seasonal stream that’s four feet wide and a foot deep for a few months of the year. It makes me wonder what they were thinking while scoping out real estate. There’s a nice stream lined with hardwoods and full of brook trout a half mile away, and the beaver damage there is remarkable. Nobody seems to care how much flooding they do there.
Muddy Beaver Dam
The beaver dam is a ring of mud around the low area, pressed firmly into place and stuffed with grasses. They’ve flooded an acre of land and made a huge vernal pool. Unfortunately, stagnant water has become a breeding ground for mosquitoes. Consequently, I can’t blame the drastic increase entirely on the lack of bats.
Now we have to decide what, if anything, to do about these new neighbors. We don’t have enough information to make an informed decision just yet.
Weighing Pros and Cons
Pro: They aren’t active right now and probably haven’t been this summer because of the lack of rain. It isn’t an area of the woodlot that’s useful to us as far as trees go so we really don’t have a lot to lose. Wood harvesting is heaviest in fall as they prepare for winter so I’m taking a walk each week to look for signs. We’ll know quickly if they return.
Black bear, coyote and bobcats prey on beaver. Coyotes and bobcats have been problems in the past. Better that they have a natural diet than snack on my domestic ducks. Fisher are another beaver predator but haven’t bothered our birds.
Moose and deer have trails passing through and around this area and are there on a regular basis. When there is water in the pool it’s so dirty I doubt animals drink. It would be a good place to set up a tree stand or ground blind for this month’s archery hunt. We’ve never harvested a large game animal from our woodlot.
It’s a pretty spot that I enjoy walking now. I’ve been picking fall mushrooms out there, and this discovery brings me back each week to a place in the woodlot I didn’t visit.
On the con list, we have a long-haired dog that loves water and all things smelly, and another dog that’s half duck toller. She loves to splash around the edge of water. We’re grateful this is outside their territory so they haven’t found the murky mess. In addition to the stench they’d bring home, I’m a little concerned about giardia.
It could be worse
Beaver damage could be worse if we have a wet summer that doesn’t allow the water to drain. In an already damp environment on the edge of a heath, there’s no real need for a bog in our woodlot.
Will they return when the fall rains arrive? The ground is naturally wet with springs that don’t freeze but there’s little water except in with fall rain, snow melt and spring rains.
Considering the tiny size of the stream a deceiver isn’t necessary. If they become a problem, we can look into asking a trapper to take a look and determine whether this is worth his or her time. For now we’ll wait to see what happens and act on the information we get.