Because the beaver isn't just an animal; it's an ecosystem!

The Martinez Beavers

A Cautionary Tale…

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Brace yourselves. This is a horrible story. I intensely dislike this story – no let’s be honest, I hate this story.  Seems some private property along Orrington Rd. in Bangor Maine was owned by a man with a soft spot for beavers. So far so good. For all the reasons we talk about every day he let some beavers build a dam on his land and create some wetlands. When the city wanted him to get rid of them, he resisted. Of course he received the usual benefits of more birds, more fish and more wildlife.  About 10 years ago there was a massive washout of the dam and the flooding caused hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage to nearby roads. The property owner was stiffly reprimanded by the city and he-  to his credit- nobly responded by installing a flow device.

The flooding Friday night was in the same area that washed out on May 23, 2001, when a beaver dam failure washed out a half-mile stretch of Swetts Pond Road and created a gully at least 10 feet deep at the entrance of Cemetery Road.

A device called a “beaver deceiver,” which resembles a culvert, was installed after the last major flooding a decade ago, but has since failed, White said.

“It’s a culvert that we placed in the dam to control the level of the dam,” the town manager said.  The device now “is completely visible and it’s completely jammed full of sticks,” which caused it to stop regulating the water levels, Stewart said.

Ugh. The first thing attentive readers will notice is that this device was not in fact a beaver deceiver, since it was a pipe designed to lower dam height. Okay naming issues happen all the time. Let’s keep reading. The pipe was found stuffed full of mud and sticks. Hmm. If it was stuffed full that must mean it had no protection? No roundfence to keep the beavers from plugging up the pipe?

So I wrote the reporter about the issue. She wrote back and said that the pipe HAD a filter at both ends and that over the years it had decayed enough to give the beavers access and eventually failed – meaning they plugged up the pipe, and the water backed up higher than the dam could hold with the spring thaw and the washout did the rest.

“When the beavers built the dam they created an environment for other wildlife to use” that falls under state and federal protections, Fire Chief Stewart said

Did I mention how much I hate this story? This is one of those rare situations where so many people did the right thing and it still turned out horribly. Mind you it would have been nice if the landowner checked the filter once in a while or paid a 16 year old to do it. Flow devices don’t require MUCH maintenance, but they don’t last forever and you will need to do an ‘eyeball check’ at least every year! Especially when you know the area is vulnerable to flash storms that can wipe the heck out of beaver dams and roads because it’s already happened! Of course now the land owner has given up the beaver defense and is hiring a trapper to come remove the little culprits ASAP.

Larry Pelletier told town selectman Monday night he’ll hire a trapper to remove the colony of beavers on Swetts Pond Road.  He says the town will do everything it can make sure this doesn’t happen, again.

Never happen again – as in no beavers will be allowed near a road ever again and we won’t put our faith in some crazy beaver deceiver ever again. I hate hate hate this story but I suppose the part of it we should learn from is that just because a flow device was installed a decade ago doesn’t mean the beaver challenge is solved forEVER, and we still need to pay attention to conditions and be proactive.

We need good cheer after that. Check out Gary Bogue’s be-nice-to-beavers  blog this morning for comfort!