Wow! Sometimes it seems the bad news never ends in 2021. The mayor of Grenville-sur-la-Rouge, Quebec, Canada has something against Canada’s national symbol, the beaver. So much so that he thinks they should be “eradicated”! Mayor Tom Arnold says that approximately 35 km2 are underwater, due to beaver activity, in the Grenville-sur-la-Rouge area, which consists of about 330 km2.
The beaver was named Canada’s national animal in 1975, and it is also the state animal of Oregon and New York. Massive trapping by the fur industry starting in the 16th century, meant beavers were nearly exterminated before the early 20th century. Of the 60 to 400 million beavers estimated to have been alive before the fur trade, numbers are thought to have rebounded to as little as six million today—only 10 percent of the number before Europeans came to North America.
Defenders of Wildlife relocates beavers
Aaron Hall, a member of Defenders of Wildlife in Colorado, has often relocated beavers, whom he calls a keystone species. In a talk to the Audubon Society in Denver in 2018, he mentioned that he has seen animals that are endangered spring back in areas with relocated beaver.
Animals positively affected by beaver relocations can include turtles, birds, ducks, otters and fish. In arid areas in New Mexico, relocated beavers are held to be directly responsible for growing numbers of endangered species like the Southwestern willow flycatcher, yellow-billed cuckoo and the Gila Trout.
Approximately 6,000 miles of streams and rivers go dry annually, in New Mexico. As much as 85 percent of all animal species in North America depend on wetlands. Beavers are also known to grow wetlands, help clarify populated waters, and provide environments where more plants grow.
Measures are available for property owners to safeguard their trees from beaver. The planting of twinberry, elderberry and ninebark trees discourages beavers; as well as wrapping the bottom meter (3 ft) of trees in wire fencing, cloth or chicken wire. Painting the area with a mix of sand and latex paint does not harm a tree, but makes it unappealing to beavers. Electric fencing can used as a last resort.
Behavior and characteristics
Beavers are mostly nocturnal and live in communities consisting of two adults, and up to four babies called kits, as well as previous generations of beavers. These juveniles help with chores and the raising of young. After two years beavers sometimes leave their dams or lodges, and strike out on their own. Beavers however, do not like new residents in their territories unless they are related to them.
Although kits can eat solid food within a week of being born, beaver babies usually nurse for up to three months. Adults are up to 120 cm long, (about 45 in), and 60 cm high (2 ft). They can weigh up to 30 kg, (about 65 lbs). When threatened, they slap their tails to warn others; and have been known to growl at other beavers invading their territories.
The front incisors of beavers are rust colored because they contain a large proportion of iron, and their distinctive tails appear scaly.
Beavers have several adaptations to allow them to live in water. They have nictitating eyelids that cover their eyes in a protective film when they dive; and can stay submerged for up to 15 minutes, but usually dive for only six. The back of the tongue can seal water from getting down their throats, and their nose and eyes are located near the top of their heads. This placement allows them to breath while swimming on the top of the water. They also use webbed back feet for propulsion, and tails as rudders.
Their thick fur can protect them from predators, keep them warm, and allows for buoyancy in water. Beavers do not hibernate in winter; they eat their stockpiles of food. Animals that predate on beavers include bobcats, large owls, foxes, and coyotes.
There are two species of beavers: the North American and Eurasian beaver. Eurasian beavers have small tails, but larger heads. Beavers can live up to approximately 10 years in the wild.
Beaver Relocation. Defender of Wildlife. (February 16, 2018). https://medium.com/wild-without-end/beaver-relocation-a12fb79e6086
Flood-causing beavers must be ‘eradicated,’ says mayor of Quebec town. CBC/Radio-Canada. (2021) https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/ottawa/ottawa-quebec-beavers-problems-1.5983401
Preventing conflicts with beavers. Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry. (October 9, 2020). https://www.ontario.ca/page/preventing-conflicts-beavers
Be Mindful of Beaver. Restoring respect for one of New Mexico’s keystone species. Defenders of Wildlife. (September 2, 2020). https://storymaps.arcgis.com/stories/d6e8348568e34526b50345bfd000b53d
Beaver. Wikipedia. (April 4, 2021). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beaver