The North American Beaver (Castor Canadensis) is a very interesting creature. It is native to North America, in fact it’s the largest rodent in North America. They mate for life and pairs usually have two to three kits each year in early spring.
While all animals are welcome in Virginia State Parks, there are times when we (humans) have to come up with creative ways to co-exist. We have bear-resistant trash cans, we attempt to keep squirrels out of bird feeders, we put up deer-resistant fences in our orchards and gardens, we use insect repellant on a regular basis, and we even use mouse traps on occasion.
The beaver poses unique challenges at times. Here is an example of how the staff of Holliday Lake State Park recently “negotiated” with an industrious beaver.
This particular North American Beaver picked a spot along Saunders Creek and began setting up housekeeping. He built a dam.
Now normally we would just let him live out his happy life there. But this spot was below a small foot bridge that crosses Saunders Creek as a part of our Lakeshore Trail. You can just see the bridge in the upper right corner of the picture.
It was soon evident that his efforts were going to cause the creek to cover the bridge. So we decided that we had to do something. After observing his hard work for a few days, it was determined that we would destroy the dam and encourage him to rebuild his dam up above the bridge. Now don’t think we didn’t discuss other options; we did. But we couldn’t re-route the trail and rebuild the bridge.
This is Dan Fowler, Maintenance Ranger. Mostly our maintenance rangers build things, clean things, fix things. They aren’t often called upon to destroy things. So this was quite an adventure for Dan.
After a few good whacks, water was flowing freely again.
So the bridge was out of danger. And that North American Beaver just found another spot (up the creek a little) to build another dam.