Sunday, January 22, 2012

Beavers never give up.

Two months ago, I wrote about the ongoing feud between a beaver family and the city of Surrey (three years and more!), over the optimum use of the creek and lagoon. The beavers were winning at the moment; they'd enlarged the upper creek area, turning a muddy trickle into a duck pond. I commented, later, "The strange thing is that in all this time, I have never seen a beaver here. Just the dams and the felled trees."

The battle continues. The human residents have been trying new tactics. Where the beavers cut fresh trees, men went in with chain saws and cleared the banks, opening more land up to the sunlight. And they've removed a couple of dams; the new pond is gone again.

Not that the beavers seem to mind this; they're taking advantage of the newly felled timber to feed on fresh, green inner bark.

Alders are weed trees; they grow quickly in wet land, and the bark of the young tree is tender and juicy.

Beaver-felled alder.

They had cut some of the new timber into shorter lengths, which they can haul away to make new lodges. Quite a few of the branches are already piled in the quieter end of the lagoon, a start on the next community lodge.

And we saw beavers, finally: (Looks like we didn't; that's an otter. I didn't expect that!)

Resting between patches of ice, against reflections of still-standing trees.

There were at least two, probably three, adults, swimming back and forth across the lagoon, ducking under the ice, occasionally coming close to the edge to rest.

The beavers will have to hurry with the building program; it is breeding season now, and a warm nest area will soon be needed. Although their kits from last year will still be with them for another year or so, the next litter will be born around April. The yearlings will help with babysitting, and probably with dam construction.

*Update: Annie, in the comments says he looks more like an otter. He does. This is entirely confusing to me. Can a tiny lagoon in a muddy creek support both otters and beaver? What do you think?

Update #2: Others agree; it's an otter. Post corrected.


  1. Annie D7:58 am

    Pic looks to me more otter than beaver...

  2. He does look more like an otter. But would there be three otters in a small lagoon with a long-established family of beavers? Arriving how? The creek, both upstream and down is a shallow, muddy trickle, often more mud than water.

    Now you have me wondering.

  3. Definitely an otter - my husband just said seal, until I told him it was fresh water and then he said otter. Otters do travel a lot - moving from fresh water streams and rivers down to the coast. They are often found in the same habitat as beavers and will even use beaver lodges for their own dens, but becasue they are very mobile, they will travel away from their dens to hunt.

  4. Thanks! We'll have to go again soon and see if we can find them. And that means we still haven't seen the beavers.

  5. Annie D8:29 am

    Those surely are beaver teethmarks left on the trees, though. I bet you have both! How cool, even if they don't all stay.

  6. When we took our Bellingham boat over to Fairhaven for a day trip, I saw two otters run down the dock and leap into the ocean. It may have been wet and rainy, but they were having a blast. - Margy

  7. Otter often cover a lot of distance when they are not denning ... miles. We've even seen their tracks where they have gone overland from one drainage to another (a mile or two). Otter seem to work a pond until they make a dent in the food supply, and then move on.

    Before white man muckied things up beaver where much more visible during the daytime. Now they are quite nocturnal. ... But in Grand Teton National Park, where they were undisturbed, I got to watch a family that came out late afternoon every day that I sat at the pond. It was wonderful!


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