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

The Martinez Beavers

Casual Carnage

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Have you noticed that something cultural gets a little unhinged in the winter months? When the ‘snow’ hits the ground folks turn all ‘man-against-the-wildernessy’ and we get cheerful articles about trapping coyotes or fishers and why otters are worth hunting.

Case in  point:

The day I nailed a frozen beaver carcass to a tree

I’m willing to try anything once, but I never thought I’d hammer a frozen, skinned beaver to a tree.

But that’s what I did last week when photographer Leah Hennel and I joined Mirjam Barrueto, a research associate with Wolverine Watch, for a day in the field to learn more about the survey.

Mirjam did the heavy lifting. Literally.  She hauled the 10- to 15-kilogram beaver carcass (I’d say it was closer to 15 kilograms) and broke the 600-meter snowshoe trail in knee- to thigh-deep snow to the Bow River site, which is easier than some of the backcountry sites they visit.

Sometimes I read beaver-killing articles and I worry if I’ve grown too rarefied and overly sensitive. Maybe I don’t understand the larger geo-political context of trapping beavers. Maybe I’ve become too “beaver-centric”, with unreasonable alliance to the animal I’m representing.

And then I read an article like this beaver crucifixion and think: “Are you frickin’ kidding me???”

Yes wolverines are cool and studying them is cool and the beaver was already dead and skinned anyway and that’s a fairly purposeful end to his pointlessly de-purposed life BUT I have to ask, what if wolverine’s favorite food was house cats, or lapdogs or babies. Would you still post a photo of yourself nailing one to a tree?

If you want to see the gristly diorama for yourself you’ll have to go to the site. At least I got the writer interested in going on a real beaver trek one day….