The Destructive and Constructive Work of Beavers

photo dec 30, 3 41 02 pm

A beaver is a hard-working, very intelligent mammal engineer.

When beavers work, they produce noticeable results. There is a grand notice on the materials they use, mainly wood from trees. The environment used, is forever changed.

The above picture is from my group hike on Bowen Island in Vancouver, Canada. This is one forest section well-stripped by beavers, using their powerful front-teeth (unsure of how many beavers, but do work in small numbers). Much of that wood is used to create a lodge; a dome-like house made from sticks, grasses and moss-plastered with mud. One lodge is sufficient for a whole family of beavers, to live comfortably and produce/raise their offspring. Such lodges are built slightly above water level along river and pond banks, like the one seen here.

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Beavers also use that wood to build dams, to better manage and trap water to create large ponds. Beavers also feed off the trees for food, eating the leaves, roots, and bark. They also digest some surrounding aquatic plants. Nothing seems wasted in a beavers world.

I did a little research and reading on the conflict between the tree-raiding troublemakers and the human settlers of Bowen Island. The dam work of beavers has in the past, disrupted homes and yards of private areas, with flooding. The early actions by locals were to trap and kill the little critters. But in the last decade, a more humane solution popularized, to build special fences to prevent the beaver-building of dams in needed areas for water to flow.

That protection, and other solutions to help the island’s natural habitat creatures have been put forth by the Association for the Protection of Fur-Bearing Animals, or Fur-Bearers. For more on beaver fences and the volunteer work of the Fur-Bearers, visit thefurbearers.com.

Meanwhile, here is a fascinating BBC video on the hard work and rewarding results of those busy beavers.

 

– Orion T

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