North American Beaver

Photo copyright Lauretta Jones

You may not catch a beaver in action, (they are mostly nocturnal) but you can find evidence of their industriousness if you know what to look for. The North American Beaver (Castor canadensis) is well-known as a large, sharp-toothed rodent that chews down trees, builds big lodges of branches and mud to live in and dams streams to raise the water level to protect its lodge. Ponds and wetlands created by beavers allow a greater variety of plants and animals to thrive. Hence it is a good sign that a beaver sees fit to call Angle Fly home.

The North American Beaver almost died out in the US as they were relentlessly trapped for fur in the 17th through 19th centuries. Trappers moved west to find more beaver after they had reduced the Eastern population, helping drive the exploration and settlement of North America. If you think the beaver is unique among animals, you are right. There are only two species in the world; the other is native to Europe.

While I had neither the patience nor the telephoto lens to get a picture of the Angle Fly beaver, I was able to get photos of the tell-tale signs of its existence. Empty shells on the shoreline hinted at an impromptu beaver picnic. A tree stump was chewed into the characteristic point with the remainder lying in the water. Further along, I caught sight of a large lodge, far across the pond. Finally, I found the dam, long and curving. We are often surrounded by the patterns of animal activity when we venture into natural areas, and it can be fun and rewarding to learn to read these signs.


All photos copyright Lauretta Jones

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