Owner loses half-hearted battle against determined herd of beavers

Before I begin, I want to make sure that despite what the title says, I really have no idea if one or a dozen beavers conspired to make (their) dependent on the landscaping of my home. And before I begin, I want to make sure that I know that a group of beavers is actually called a “colony”. The point is, I think “colony” is a pretty weak label for such a destructive (or determined) group of animals (if there was an actual group).

And since I’m a writer, and this is my column, I can call this particular savage group of marauding buckskin pests whatever I like. Today, since I am not allowed to use names that many readers consider to be “mean words”, I call them a herd. Period. Sue me.

So, about a month ago, I told you about my beaver problem, which kind of flowed through me in I-know-how many months. Beavers, I learned, are like this: sneaky. Misleading. Stealthy. Shakes. A tree has fallen in my non-forest garden. No one heard it. And yet, I’m pretty sure it made some noise. Or, at least I did, when I started swearing at the beaver (now known as the beaver herd) responsible for the big pile of wood chips and the bigger pile of unprocessed wood that was a few feet from my bedroom window.

You might remember that I was amazed that a beaver could chew on an entire tree without making a sound, and in response I deployed a surveillance camera that would surely determine what time the creature showed up and where it was. he had helpers. All that attracted me was a brief footage showing a squirrel (which, in retrospect, was clearly in cahoots with the beaver herd, and probably on their payroll).

Many suggested that I try to trap the beaver, and many others thought that was a great suggestion. After all, they probably reasoned: I’m an outdoor enthusiast. I was the outside editor of this newspaper here. Surely I must be good at chasing and trapping animals. Law?

No. See also: Chronicles of my attempts to trap a guinea pig. And a mouse. And my deer hunting exploits. And, besides, my inability to capture a video of a beaver herd, even though I knew EXACTLY which tree they were going to return to (since, after all, they had already eaten halfway through its trunk).

Thus, no trap has been deployed. Partly because I am not a trapper and am not allowed to trap and kill beavers. Partly because I didn’t want to have to figure out what to do with a stupid beaver that had strayed into a living trap I had set. And mostly because I thought that despite my frustration with the sharp-toothed vermin, I really had nothing against the beaver. Or herd. Or whatever.

They were, I guess, just getting by, doing whatever the beaver herds do.

Still, I wanted photographic evidence. Partly because I was wondering how many beavers there are in this herd. Partly because I wanted to see if the beavers knocked me over when they stopped to gnaw on my tree. And mostly because I wanted to share the resulting images with readers, which I thought would break the internet and appeal to my editors.

The other night, as I was lying in my bed, apparently less than sound asleep, I heard quite a heckling. At first I thought that meant the cat was in the living room, playing soccer with a salvaged pencil or pen or a cat toy. But the sound that woke me up didn’t repeat itself. For a few minutes, until I fell asleep again, I remembered a man thinking groggy, looking like a falling tree. Nope. Impossible.

Of course it was. My not-so-friendly beaver herd had returned to complete the job he had started a month earlier. And when I took the dogs for their morning walk, I quickly noticed that the second tree no longer dominated the skyline along the creek that runs through the back yard.

I would like to say I was angry. Instead, I guess I realized that the tree – already half-eaten, if you remember – was the abbreviation for this world. And this time, I thought, I would surely have some photographic evidence to share with all of you. It couldn’t be the work of one beaver, I thought. Certainly not. There was probably a large herd at work here. Some were rodents. Some were lookouts (like the squirrel). Others were watchmen, who leaned on nearby trees, telling others how fast to gnaw and which way to look.

And I’d like to show you that footage today. I really would. Unfortunately, this herd of beavers does not appear in the photos. Or on video. Or anything like that. Just imagine them as a four-legged pack of wood-thirsty vampires. With much closer teeth and a big, flat tail.

No, I didn’t have any photos. No video. Nothing.

Well, that’s not quite true. The squirrel? He came back and posed for a few videos. The same goes for a black cat that I have never seen in my neighborhood before.

I wish I could say it was a mountain lion and show you that footage instead. That too would break the internet.

Alas, in good conscience, I can’t even do that. So I only have a few seconds left of squirrel and cat video, and other bits of video with nothing but grass swaying past the trees chewed on by the beaver herd.

That, and a bunch of future firewood.


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