Carla Carlson – Naturally Niagra
American author Henry Miller said, “If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, looks like a duck, it must be a duck.” So using that logic, blow me down, it must be a beaver. Not that I got to see it walking or otherwise, but there before me at the edge of our neighbour’s property on the Twenty Mile Creek were three big willow trees chipped away at the bottom just as professionally as Paul Bunyan would have done. One had a cut at the base of the trunk and a higher cut on the opposite side of the tree. At first glance I thought it was vandals. But the cuts were all wrong for an axe, tiny or otherwise. Little one inch grooved chips and cuts. Since I have not found any hard evidence of elves to date, I had to dismiss that thought. I tried looking for scats to confirm my suspicions, but I couldn’t find any. That’s the professional term for droppings, poo to be clear, just in case you don’t get it. Through my research I learned that beavers eat their own droppings. Hey, maybe that’s why I can’t find any evidence of elves!
Well, okay beavers do practice corprophagy. It takes a LONG time to glean any nutrition our of tree bark, But you can find scat. You just have to know where to look:
I’m always a little nervous when someone writes more than 1500 words about beavers and doesn’t happen to mention their enormous impact on other species or wetlands. Especially when they make their living off of showing people the other species. Where did she do her research anyway?
Greg Belmore, the customer service technician with the Ministry of Natural Resources in Vineland, told me the “local population is evidently growing because more and more phone calls (complaints) are coming in regarding culverts being blocked, dams in ditches and trees being cut on private property.” They are actually coming up the banks of Martindale Pond in Port Dalhousie and eating people’s ornamental shrubs! Damn those beavers not respecting landowners on “their” property with “their” property lines (Greg retired a couple of years ago and so these complaints were from 2005. If anyone has a beaver update from that neighbourhood, please let me know).
Ahhh the good old MNR! Say no more! The important ‘population must be increasing because complaints are increasing‘ field of study. (I believe they first developed that in Massachusetts.) Of course you realize that the number of humans could be going up too? Or the numbers of whiny humans? That could certainly skew your results. But I’m sure you brought in a hardy statistician to calculate the human population growth, size of waterway loss with road development, and partialled that all out in your equation. Right?
Of course she goes on to announce that the beaver is actually a member of the rodent family (NO!) and that they only live for four or five years. (Shh don’t tell our beavers, who are expecting to live at least twice that long.) Never mind. This part of the article I agreed with entirely.
I think many of us have been unaware of our local beaver communities, including myself. I need to get out canoeing more. Since most of their activity is at night you’d want night vision binoculars and then you’d really be able to see them hustling and bustling about.
Carla is a naturalist and founder of Niagra Nature Tours. Hmm. I am told by our friends at Niagra Action Alerts for Animals that she is a good soul and very responsive to wildlife issues. Okay. Lets just say that the region might have a few things left to learn about beavers. I sent a care package.