Beaver Work

I have a dispute with the beavers. Their dams have raised the pond levels so high that some of the spruces on the margins are starting to suffer from flooding. I don’t want any more dead trees. So Buki and I went out to the dams to dig sluice channels to let some of the water out.

Buki helped pull waterlogged wood out of the dam. What could be more fun for a dog and a man than this kind of muddy work? My expression was similar to Buki’s. We laughed a lot. But I think the beavers won’t be laughing.

With our spillway, we created a sort of waterfall–a thrill for Buki, who knows the meaning of the word ‘waterfall’. I was happy with the quantity of water tumbling over the dam. When I went out at dusk to examine the change in water levels on the opposite side of the pond, I found it had gone down by only about a quarter of an inch, but I want the water level to drop by 3–4 inches. I don’t know how long it will take the beavers to discover and repair the breach. If they fix the dam by the morning, then I’ll have to breach it again tomorrow. I’m sure Buki wouldn’t mind undoing the beavers’ repairs.

The swamp candles (Lysichiton americanus) below the dam now have a bit more water flowing by, but they won’t be harmed.

Here’s Buki on the largest of the three beaver lodges. And notice the distant shore of the pond with the row of alders…that is all beaver dam. That portion of the dam is about six feet high. It amazes me to see what enormous structures beavers can create. Admirable animals.

Ravena watched what Buki and I were doing the entire time we were on the dam. And after we finished, she flew home with us and we all had treats. It was a good day.

The next morning, the spillway was blocked again. Beavers hate unplanned water flow. They will rush to the sound of falling water and start to work right away to repair the damage. And I got to work undoing the repairs and creating three more spillways. This time (as of another morning later, as I write this), I got my desired three inch decline in the pond level, but all the spillways are now repaired.

Notice in the photo below the engineering used by the beavers to fix this spillway: 1) wood placed parallel to the outlet flow, 2) wood placed perpendicular to the flow but parallel to the pond shore, 3) mud packed against the shore-parallel wood. Each of the spillways was repaired in this same manner. I wonder if beavers everywhere use this same engineering. Or could our beavers be idiosyncratic, just making it up as they go?

I’ll be interested to see how long it takes the pond water to rise again. The rate of filling will give us some idea of the amount of spring inflow into the pond.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *