Beavers: Marginally better than pollution

   Posted by heidi08 On March - 18 - 2013

Apparently the best city based pre-beaver campaign isn’t education or widespread information about solutions. It years and years of horrible, toxic, pollution supplied by endless factories to multiple riverbeds in a region so that the river itself becomes so wretched and inhospitable to life that when hardy beavers actually move in, they we briefly welcomed as champions.

First the Bronx, then Chernobyl, and now this:


Yes, beaver making a comeback along Detroit, Rouge rivers

The return of the native creature was heralded in early 2009 after perhaps a century without seeing any evidence of beaver in Detroit. A beaver was spotted having built a lodge at the DTE Conners Creek power plant. He moved on during that summer, but in November of that year was spotted having returned with a family.

Now there is fresh evidence that the beaver are multiplying along several points of the Detroit and Rouge rivers and might be making a sustained comeback in the city, said John Hartig, a manager with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. He said evidence of beaver has been found at the Conners Creek plant in Detroit, the River Rouge plant and other points.

“They could be expanding their range,” he said.

Ahhh how Nice. Okay, mark your calendars and set your clocks, because as encouraging as this article is I predict it will be a matter of months before we start reading stories about neighborhoods with blocked culverts and chopped trees. Folks are excited when beavers come BACK to an area because they assume it means they did very good things to make it possible. Hughlet Hornbeck once explained to me that the beavers coming back to Alhambra Creek was proof that EBRP had been doing the right thing for 50 years, for example.

That may be a little bit true. We may make efforts to stop ruining things and take the necessary steps to turn things around. But lets be honest and admit the beavers are the ones who actually make things better!

Then industrial pollution in the mid-20th Century made the Detroit River too toxic for beaver and many other species to return. The cleanup of the river in recent decades has seen many species making a comeback.

“This is one piece of evidence,” Hartig said of the latest beaver sighting. “But if you add in there the return of lake sturgeon, the return of lake whitefish, the return of walleye, the return of bald eagles, peregrine falcons, osprey, beaver, wild celery, it’s one of the most dramatic ecological recovery stories in North America.”

Beavers are still exciting enough along the Detroit River that the reporter does an excellent job researching their history and providing context. Go check out the article and read what good beaver reporting looks like. Enjoy it while it lasts though, because in the blink of an eye they’ll be reporting that gangs of four foot tall beavers cut down all the trees and caused tularemia.

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Also, this morning I was sent an recent dissertation looking at the genetic diversity of the American beaver population, which apparently is ‘dam’ ‘hardy. (Color me surprised!) I’m still gleaning to see if it addresses subspecies, but in the meantime you can check it out for youself online here.

And the newly named Dr. Karla Pelz Serrano should definitely be in touch! Beaver festival Arizona anyone?

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