Thursday, April 17, 2014

What Will Spring Bring for the Beaver(s)?

Going into the winter of 2012 our beaver population was five. There were the parents, a one-year old, and two babies. During one of my winter walks around the pond I saw beaver tracks followed by fox track, which worried me. When spring rolled around there were never more than two beavers sighted and I feared the mother and two youngsters became fox food.  The two left appeared to be the patriarch and his oldest son. By the end of summer it seemed as if the population had dropped once more as there was never more than on beaver sighted at a time.

The winter this year was particularly wet and the spring run off is seeping through the dam in a half dozen places. The west pond higher than it has ever been in the past and the east pond is proportionately as high. If there is only one beaver left, he will be BUSY shoring up the dam. On my last week, I didn't see any early signs of activity, but I did see a couple of mallards swimming around the cage.

When we built the cage back in 2011, it was to protect the three culvert pipes the beavers had dammed up. Before we installed the fence, we completely cleaned the lowest of the three pipe and intentionally left two of them about 1/2 dammed up. That way, no water would flow through two of them and we would only have to keep an eye on one pipe. The two partially dammed pipes were a safety valve. If there was a major break in the dam, it would easily push out the partial dam and allow water to flow under the road, rather than over it.

It looks like the culvert pipes may need a little attention this spring, because the run off from one major storm last fall and this spring's run off has unplugged both of the partially dammed pipes and there is significant debris at the outflow. We'll have to keep an eye on which flow attracts the attention of the beaver(s) assuming there are any still around. It would be sad if they were not here this summer, but even if that is the case, the situation won't stay that way for long.

Beavers control their own population and when youngsters reach as certain age, they are given their walking papers and must find their own home. If we are sans beavers, it is just a matter of time before another one or two set up house keeping.

Update: The above material was written about a week ago.  Since then I'm happy to report that we have had confirmed sightings of no less than three beavers, one adult and two youngsters from last season. Additionally, if you look around the pond, there is ample evidence of their activity.

There are quite a few sapling stumps visible as the beavers dine after a long winter.  There is also evidence of work on  a large tree left, a little distance past the first bend in the trail. If the continue to work on it, we might have another tree across the trail.

They have also made repairs on the dam to stop some of the leaks.  As yet, they have made no attempt to dam the outflow side.  We will keep tabs on them and report any new information.  If you have any sightings or get any pictures, please send them my way.

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