The only thing I remember reporting about Indiana and beavers (aside from the Marion lab story where I was delightfully wrong), is a report from the state fair where they were proudly offering “beaver on a stick“. (Ugh!) It has not exactly been a shining beacon of beaver progressive thought. In fact every state it happens to border has a very nearly abysmal beaver record, so beavers obviously need to inspire disciples there. Well, maybe this is a start.
This issue became clear when, last December, a local trapper set up beaver traps in Big Walnut Creek, sparking opposition from disappointed University faculty and staff members.
The unanticipated backlash provoked Nature Park Ranger Brien Holsapple to address the trappers, who decided to remove the traps in order to prevent any further controversy or conflict.
Harms then mentioned the trapping incident to English professor, Ellen Bayer. Bayer, who was troubled by the news, decided to contact Holsapple as well.
“For the previous couple of months, my wife and I would go hiking a lot in the Nature Park,” Harms said. “We had seen beavers…and a dam was starting to be built.”
Harms thought that seeing the beavers behaving naturally was “kind of cool.”
Hurray for Doug! And Ellen! And Mr. Holsapple for deciding to listen instead of react indignantly! This is a great story of folks starting to think about beavers in a new way and I wrote everyone of them with problem-solving tools just in case their good cheer changes when things get harder. In the mean time, it’s very good news for beavers in Indiana. But be careful, Doug. I seem to remember a resonable person I once knew that liked to take walks and watch beavers just because they were ‘kinda cool’. You’ll never believe what happened to her.
“I guess I’m just glad that when people raise a concern, it’s possible to not only have immediate response,” Bayer said, “but also to have the campus body’s input taken seriously.”
Holsapple also expressed his appreciation and encouragement for this kind of communication to continue in the future.
“Without a doubt, I appreciate the students and the faculty’s input and I received a lot of it – some good, some bad – but don’t ever hesitate,” Holsapple said. “This is our park.”
The beaver incident and the way it was dealt with demonstrated the constant need for adjusting to the world’s changing environment, even on such a small scale of beavers in the park.
Maybe this means there’s hope for the next Indiana State fair?
A lovely photo from Cheryl this week. It was taken near the Creek Monkey wall where dozens of admiring onlookers watched. The photo demonstrates that kits have no fear and rely on responsible humans to do the right thing and remind them that they are wild animals. (Which, if you’re ever approached in a similar fashion, means making noise or clapping so that they are startled off. Clapping sounds like a tail slap and they know exactly what that means!) It happens every year, with similarly adorable results, but it always worries us a little. For now, take a deep breath and enjoy!
Isn’t that lovely? His nose is really getting bigger. Not a little snippet anymore. Here’s a video of a similarly fearless approach in 2010. The kit was a little younger because they were orphans and unsupervised, but same general idea.