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

The Martinez Beavers

Beaver Melodrama

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Do you ever see those old time black and white movie reels with piano accompaniment where there’s a hero that’s incredibly saintly, and a villain with a black mustache that usually ties a helpless damsel to the rail road tracks? (I’m not sure what the fascination was for killing girls with trains…You would never kill boys with trains. I’m sure there were an array of other weapons around, guns, knives, hammers… and the train would still kill her if she was standing UP, but I guess train tracks and supine women make a nicer visual for all those stirring loins.)

Anyway, believe it or not,  those melodramatic tales are retold on the beaver stage today.

Hero beavers of Willard Bay spill on mend at wildlife center

Two beavers, perhaps siblings, are being hailed as the heroes of the diesel fuel spill at Willard Bay State Park, but the dams they created that slowed the spill from reaching the reservoir also led to their being saturated in the toxic substance.

The beavers, thought to be yearlings, were captured by emergency-response workers and Utah Division of Wildlife Resources conservation officer Mitch Lane on Tuesday morning and delivered to the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Northern Utah in Ogden.

This is apparently the third time in as many years that a leaking pipe line from Chevron has gifted the state of Utah, this time in Willard Bay state park, which has forced evacuation of much of the area including the Great Salt Lake. They are worried the Diesel will get into the reservoir, but particularly grateful that it was slowed by a certain heroic beaver dam.

Diesel is nasty, nasty stuff and even after a loving cleaning by the volunteers, one of the beavers isn’t doing so well at the moment. All our fingers are crossed for his recovery. And for selection of a shiny new diesel-free territory to release in. And that no family members were left behind. If you want to support the Ogden Wildlife rehab efforts (and beaver rescue in particular) you can donate here.

Now for the villain part of our piece:

Sherwood Park resident eager to get rid of crape myrtle-eating beaver; thinks rodent lives in underground sewer

HUNTSVILLE, Alabama — The sight of a beaver waddling across her side yard both startled and relieved Mary Dyer.   Her Sherwood Park home is nowhere near a pond or creek, so there was no reason to expect the instinctive dam-builder on her property. But at least it explained why all eight of her crape myrtles had disappeared down to the stumps.

“I was thinking there were some kids in the neighborhood testing out a new hatchet or something, Dyer said. “So that’s good to know, that that wasn’t happening.”

Ahh Alabama, where kids really could be testing out a new hatchet or something. And where FEMA awards hundreds of thousands of dollars to the the drought stricken land. And where I just got a snotty email from the man responsible for killing geese and beavers in Pell county because he “expected more understanding from someone with my education”.

Well apparently since there are no beavers, and no streams, lost dispersers are forced to live in the sewer system, which I suppose is fine until you meet an alligator.

There are no natural creeks in Sherwood Park, a 50-year-old subdivision off Old Madison Pike near Research Park Boulevard. But there is a large network of underground storm drains. And if you think a beaver living in a sewer is a sad existence, you haven’t heard the worst of it.

Turns out beavers occupying storm drains is fairly common, especially as man and nature continue to encroach upon another.  Chris Keenum, owner of Keenum’s Problem Wildlife Control in Hartselle, said it’s a regular occurrence to see beavers building dens in storm drains each spring.

Of course Chris would be the go-to quote for the vexing tale of beavers. I especially enjoy his dog-eat-dog (well beaver-eat-beaver) account of how viciously the animals treat one another, (ostensibly so that human reaction doesn’t look cruel by comparison).

“Well, before the mother gives birth, she has to get rid of the kits that are already there. Usually when they’re 2 years old. She’ll bite them and do whatever she has to do to kick them out.”

The young brothers and sisters generally will venture out together and try to settle on the fringes of their parents’ home. Most of the time, however, that territory already belongs to another beaver, who takes a dim view of freeloaders in his self-built pond and fights off the young visitors. This pattern can continue repeatedly until the beaver finds a safe haven far away from established beaver homes, Keenum said.

Welcome to the sewer.  Keenum recently caught a beaver with 21 bite marks received from rough encounters.  “It looked like two beavers had held him down and two other beavers had beat up on him,” he said.

Or maybe like the neighbors dog had terrorized the poor disperser when he had no place to call home. Sheesh. Why do reporters ask for quotes from trappers? Its like asking inmates for quotes about the legal system. I’m sure they know SOMETHING about the law, but it probably shouldn’t be a reporters first choice.

In 1978, refuge officials intentionally released more than 50 alligators to gobble up excessive beavers. That didn’t solve the problem, so now rangers spend countless hours dynamiting the dams or breaking them up with heavy equipment. Sometimes, they are back a few days later doing it again after the busy beavers rebuild.

Nice. But this is my favorite part.

“The Humane Society of United States actually recommends euthanizing them,” Abernathy said. “We try to relocate them when we can.”

Yes, that crazy humane society. Always out recommending killing beavers. Remind me to send this to John Hadidian.