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Killer Beavers

If you have ever seen Monty Python and the Holy Grail you know about man-killing rabbits. I have always been skeptical that such existed. I mention this only for the reason that I was told last week about killer beavers.

April 26 was a dark and stormy day. The sky was angry, my friends. As the wind blew, the raindrops, pregnant with latent moisture, pelted the pond on which ducks swam about. They dabbled for grain: to them, the rain was as insignificant as water off a duck’s back.

The ducks are a pair of wild mallards, three wood duck males and two hens that have found a home in our pond, at least temporarily. The mallards, possible returnees, are fairly sanguine about humans nearby, while the woodies are very skittish, and will rapidly paddle away from the perceived threat, once in a while taking wing for a few yards, then settling back to the surface where they are or think they are.

That morning Ms. Gloria announced there was a beaver in the pond, a very large one and the wood ducks had flown away. A few years ago the game department kindly deposited a young beaver in our pond. It was to see how the animal reacted to a landlocked environment. For two weeks I tossed entire young aspens into the water and watched as the rodent ate a bit then paddled away with the remainder. One day it was gone. That became a week and more and we assumed he had either gone walkabout or was taken by a predator.

That winter, led by tracker Gabe Spence, Gloria went on a tracking outing in the snow. The group came upon some cougar scat and on examination, Spence determined there were beaver parts in the poop. As it was not far from our place and on the river bank, we decided it was “our” beaver. So much for landlocked beavers in a small pond.

Later that year which was actually the next year we spoke with neighbor Paul Jennings, who lives a quarter mile downstream where Boesel Creek runs through his property and terminates in a small pond. Jennings said that there had been a beaver in the area for some time. Maybe ours had not been cougar bait. Maybe it had gone a quarter mile overland. Gee, I did not know they did that.

Well, that afternoon as the sky brightened and the rain subsided, I was speaking with neighbor John Stevens on the phone. In the midst of the conversation, I interrupted with a “WOW,” and told him there was a large beaver swimming up our pond. And it WAS large, easily a third bigger than the one that had lived here. I thought John might be impressed.

John is a regular at the SLIME club, and therefore, like the rest of us, is all-knowing about many things. So when he told me to watch out for my dog because beavers will kill canines, I accused him of shucking and jiving me. “No,” he said, “I saw them attack dogs when at the Potholes.” Of course I did not believe him or his first hand observations. John was joshing.

After we had spoken I went to Google, typed in “Beavers Killing Dogs,” and to my amazement there was a string of topics and reports, newspaper clips of this actually happening. Canada had several reports of attacks on dogs and from somewhere else at least one dog had been killed. Stevens had augmented his report that the beavers will grab the dog, take it underwater and drown it. At the time I thought he was mistaking the Potholes alligators for beavers. Now, I am not so sure.

So our helpful hint for the day is, if you are near a beaver area and have a dog, keep it controlled on a leash, rope or chain depending on the size. Dogs do like to chase the swimmers, I learned, and this is when they can get in deep water, as well as deep - other stuff.


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