Sunday, May 1, 2016

The Beaver Night Shift and Child Labor

The culvert protection fence and pond leveler are doing their jobs nicely. As a result, there is a steady flow of water on the outflow side of the culverts. While this is not alarming to the beavers, after a rain it is enough to spur them into action. However, clogging an outflow that is protected by 6"x6" steel mesh presents a significant problem. The outflow washes away the mud and the mesh prevents them from using large sticks and logs that would be held in place by the mud.

They do their best, and over the course of the entire last season, the best they could do was to build a ramp up to the outflow, which spread and dispersed the flow enough that it wouldn't bother them. But beavers are cleaver creatures, and this year they have somehow been able to dam the first 6 inches of each pipe.

Fortunately, this presents absolutely no problem for us, but I noticed the difference in construction. Somehow, they were able to include small twigs (6"-12''). They didn't do that last year.  I was curious as to how they were doing it. So yesterday, I set up a trail camera and spent about two minutes to removed the six inches of mud and twigs in front of one of the pipes.

Imagine my surprise this morning when I checked the video and saw a beaver INSIDE the culvert pipe. The 6"x6" mesh prevents adult beavers from entering, but it was not enough to keep out the yearling that was working the night shift.

Since beaver have no child labor laws, it was perfectly legal. The small amount of damming they are able to do presents no problem, and I'll leave well enough alone. If it does become a problem, an overlapping piece of steel mesh will turn the 6"x6" into 3"x3". That should solve the problem, unless of course my bolt cutters go missing.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

A "Sticky" Situation with Beavers and Geese

As I reached my shooting location on the lower pond, I noticed that the beavers has stripped a six or seven foot branch.  While this is an everyday occurrence, what was unusual was were they left it.  I was just setting up the camera to take some video of it when I heard the familiar honking of Canadian geese over my left shoulder.  I swung the camera around just in time to catch them swooping in over the trees.  After they settled in, they provided me with a way to show the stripped branch in a way that couldn't be scripted.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Beavers Swimming on the First Warm Day in March

It was my first "stake out" of the season, and I lucked out. By pure chance, I was at the far end of the lower pond when the beavers came out of their lodge. At first there was one, then two, and at one point I had four in the shot, and a fifth did a tail slap about ten feet from where I was standing. I haven't seen any kits or activity in the upper pond yet.

Here's a five minute beaver ballet.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Beaver Activity on the Lower Pond During the Winter of 2015-16

I broke out the bushwhacker to begin trimming back woody growth along the trail head and up to the culvert.  Unfortunately, a missing part resulted in cutting short the effort.  Undaunted, I headed back and prepped the lawnmower to deal with non-wood, dead weeds along the trail.  After changing the oil and gassing up, I grabbed the throttle bar to start it, and the throttle cable snapped. The universe was telling me to go take a hike, so it I did.

On this trek, I headed to the far end of the lower pond.  If you remember, last fall the beavers began reinforcing the long abandoned, original dam and then promptly began another dam only about 20-30 yards down stream.

The old dam was reinforced to raise the level of the lower pond and afford the lodge more protection.  The second dam was most likely made to assist in moving branches and logs for their winter lodge, food, and dam work.

When I observed them last fall, I wondered what the spring would bring. Today's walk seems to suggest they are continuing to work on BOTH dams.  If they do, the pond will continue to grow eastward toward Ham Road and possible southerly, toward Rt. 27.  Neither of those growth areas pose any problem for the condos.

However, continued work on the original dam at the end of Locksley will result in a rise in the level of the lower pond.  This is an area we need to watch this spring and summer season.

Here's an overview of the activity on the lower pond.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Beaver Activity 2-25-16

I took advantage of the great weather today to check out beaver activity around the pond. I was happy to see there was minimal activity on the condo side of the pond.

The bulk of the activity so far, and hopefully into the spring, is on the far side of the pond, along the trail to the old picnic area, and in the wood off the trail around the picnic area.  The video below, gives you a quick look at that.

There was not new activity anywhere around the upper pond, including the trail up to Arrow from the clubhouse.  

The mild winter has been kind to the dam and there is not much repair work for them to do.

The culverts are in good shape and will take only a few minutes of maintenance.

Monday, January 11, 2016

An Open Letter to Bill Reid

Dear Bill,

On January 9, you wrote an article for the Norwich Bulletin, titled Exploring The Last Green Valley:Beavers are nature's engineer.  For the most part it was a positive article which gave beavers their due respect as engineers and agents of positive ecological change.  On the negative side, you also express your love-hate relationship with our common friend and the actions you had to take; namely trapping and killing them. 

Indeed, when beavers come in conflict with human interests and income, there can be frustration that results in short term relief to the two legged interests, but rather negative consequences to the beaver who are trapped and killed.  However, as you noted, the relief is short lived, because the beavers are soon replaced by others.  What most people don't realize is that there is a better solution.

I'm sure as you look down the road, you see a picture of ongoing conflict, beaver trapping, and the associated expense and time involved in protecting your interests.  We were once in your shoes.  Trapping has been a solution for hundreds of year, but now there is a better way.   Let me present you with another picture; one in which the pond is maintained at it's current state, future growth is stopped, the beaver population is maintained at about the current level, and you build a long term relationship with your furry neighbors.  You might even get to know them by name.

The reason trapping is a short term solution, is because of a fact you missed in your article.  Beavers are very territorial and they self limit their population.  When their kits become about 2 years old, they are sent packing.  They will travel up to 50 miles in search of another pond. often falling prey to predators along.  So when you trap beavers on your pond, all you have done is put a big Vacancy sign of the Reid Pond Motel.

The reason beaver populations grow is because, as ponds grow they will support more beavers.  The two year-olds just move to the far end of the pond and stay out of mom and dad's hair.  The secret to limiting beaver populations is to take advantage of the two pieces of information; namely that beaver move on in two years and if the pond doesn't grow big enough to support them, they will move elsewhere.

If that sounds like the ravings of an animal nut, I would have to plead guilty to the animal nut part, but believe me when I say I have not been partaking of any illegal substances, nor am I diluted.  You see, we here at Sherwood Glen have been peacefully co-existing with beavers that inhabit our pond since our first conflict in 2009.  We have done it through a program of culvert protection and pond leveling devices.  The beavers have done the rest, and we have done a lower expense and less aggravation than trapping.  You can find all about what we have done, what we are doing, and what we are planning for the future by exploring this blog. 

You can probably do the same sort of thing on your property and like us, save money and aggravation in the long run.  If you would like more information feel free to contact me or check out the Facebook Beaver Management forum.  They provided me with all I needed to get our program underway, not to mention the fact they also pointed me to your article.

In closing, I want to thank you for the positive recognition of the beaver's role as a keystone species and encourage you to look into the idea of maintain and managing the pond, rather than trapping the beavers.  This will allow you to build a long term relationship with the current residents and will give you plenty of material for follow up articles, beginning with one that details the installation of your own flow device.

Best Regards,
Art Wolinsky