I own some property that borders the Mississippi River. It is loaded with wildlife — ducks, geese, turkeys, deer and yes, even beavers.
The first four critters are great to have around any time, as far as I am concerned.
My enthusiasm for the beaver, however, is wearing a bit thin to be honest about it.
If you own property that has beavers on it “doing their thing,” you know exactly what I mean.
For those of you who think the beaver is a benefit to our environment, an eco-savior and can do no wrong, perhaps you should see the other side of this controversy.
But first, let’s get some background on the beaver.
Beavers were here in North America long before the Europeans arrived. It is estimated that in the early 1800’s, there were 80 million of them here.
Unfortunately, the demand for beaver fur and the indiscriminate trapping of beaver pushed the species almost to the point of extinction by the early 1900’s.
But eventually, with favorable laws, the beaver population improved to the point that they came off the critical list.
And they are now showing up again in places where they haven’t been for years.
I have always liked beavers in the abstract; they set a good example for humans by being “busy as a beaver”; working diligently on one project or another until it is finished and by helping, to some extent, in improving the environment.
And the presence of beavers in your neck of the woods carries with it the sense that you are in “the back country,” even if you’re not.
Beavers are the largest rodents in North America, with the adult male sometimes reaching 60 pounds and about four feet in length, from tip to tail.
They are described as “semi-aquatic,” meaning they can easily function both on dry ground and in water. Their front feet are webbed so that they can swim and their broad, flat tail acts as a rudder.
The tail also allows them to stand on their hind feet so that they can do what they do best — bringing down trees.
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In fact, to get inside the lodge, there is an underwater entrance but once inside, the living area is above the water level.
Beavers are vegetarians; they do not eat fish or other animals. Over the winter, they eat tree bark and twigs when foliage is not available; their stomachs are “specially designed” to handle what would otherwise be a horrible diet.
They are monogamous and, in fact, the male can be particularly aggressive when other male beavers pose a threat.
The females have one litter of kits a year and those kits generally stay in the lodge with their parents for about two years before venturing out on their own.
When they are born, the kits are already able to swim. Both parents are said to be attentive to their families.
Certainly beavers have unique and admirable attributes as those suggested in the preceding paragraphs. But the problem with beavers, simply put, is that they don’t know when to quit.