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

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This weekend’s Olean Times Herald featured a lovely annual event. What a great way for families to celebrate the end of the school year.

RED HOUSE – Several hundred nature lovers had checked in by Friday night — with some stragglers due this morning — at the 55th annual Allegany Nature Pilgrimage in Allegany State Park.

Sponsored by the Audubon Societies of Buffalo, Jamestown and Presque Isle, Pa., and the Burroughs Audubon Nature Club of Rochester, the event typically draws between 400 and 600 family members and friends.

They come year after year to attend several nature walks of their choosing from among dozens offered, including bird watching, tree and plant identification, salamander walk, owl prowl, carnivorous native plants, general nature hikes, wildflower photography, nighttime frog walk and the popular beaver walk.

Allegany State Park is in New York, just over the border from Pennsylvania. From where I sit it’s an area that folks could stand to learn more about living with beavers, so I’m particularly happy that one of the most popular events in this well-attended weekend is the beaver walk. Its lead by Kristen Bueschi Rosenburg of Rhinestein Woods north of there.

ANOTHER POPULAR EVENT Friday night was the beaver walk led by Kristen Rosenburg, an environmental educator at Rhinestein Woods in Cheektowaga. She did SUNY Environmental and Forestry School graduate work on beavers in Allegany State Park in the late 1990.

If you were a rabid beaver geek like me you might worry whether Kristen said all the right things about beavers and emphasized their role as a keystone species. But then again, if you were a very rabid beaver geek like me you would know that SUNY Environmental and Forestry school she attended is where beaver guru and author of the beaver bible Dietland Muller-Swarze teaches, so you would instantly be reassured that she has all the knowledge she needs.

Ms. Rosenburg said beavers, the world’s second-largest rodent, can grow to 4 feet from the tip of their nose to the tip of their tail. They average 40 to 60 pounds, but have been trapped as large as 110 pounds. The biggest one she live-trapped in the park for her research as a 57-pounder.

She had tape recordings of different beaver sounds, including the warning slap of a tail, a whining young beaver crying for food and a beaver chewing bark off a tree.  “(They) are great swimmers, but are not fast on land. It’s like a waddle. Their favorite food is aspen,” she explained.


They eat it much like people eat corn on the cob. They will also eat willow and dogwood, but avoid pines and red maples, which are apparently not as tasty.  Beavers don’t hibernate in winter, instead leaving a store of tasty aspen branches in the water outside the lodge. She said the image of a beaver slapping mud on a beaver dam with his tail is cartoon myth.

A myth! I can already tell Kristen is going to be a friend, because beaver myths are a favorite topic for me. You can watch a short video of Kristen here: I’m of  to write her right now and invite her to our beaver festival!