You're sitting by the shore of the Pond. It is evening, quiet, barely a ripple on the surface. And you hear a splash.
Beaver in Foster's Pond. Photo by Frances Y.J. Wheeler
Not the gentle, drawn-out SPLOOooosh-sh-sh of a goose, feet and wings extended, gliding in for a gear-down landing. And not the flat SPLAT of a fish flopping back after launching itself in pursuit of an insect.
|Tree gnawed by beavers uphill from the dam, a few feet from Rattlesnake Hill Road, January, 2007.|
No, this is the spill-your-drink, "What-the?" ker-THUNK of someone heaving a bowling ball into the Pond. It is loud, deep, echoing, and most definitely attention-getting.
And then you see the perpetrator: a beaver, swimming placidly, its head and that broad flat tail barely rippling the surface. The beavers are nocturnal, rarely seen in daylight around the Pond. And they're not that easily spooked. You can get quite close to them, if you are quiet. Sometimes, it seems, they just like to make their presence known.
Beavers in Foster's Pond have become plentiful - there are at least a half dozen of them, probably quite a few more, in at least four dens - bringing down surprisingly large trees and large swaths of shoreside brush. Most shoreline property owners can point to a tree (or several) felled by beavers. (Read further for one resident's tips on preventing further damage.)
|December, 2009: Night by night, over a period of three weeks, beavers brought this brush to the sluiceway of the dam, until skim ice put an end to their efforts. Volunteers removed it each morning and stacked it here for later hauling away.|
One place to find them - and to measure their capacity for work - is the Foster's Pond Dam. During the winter drawdown, they respond to the sound of water rushing through the dam's sluiceway by stuffing the narrow outlet with branches, muck, and debris, stopping only when skim ice prevents them from floating the material to the dam. Every night, they attack the "leak". And every morning, a volunteer removes the debris and piles it near the accessway, to be carted off at a later time. The sheer quantity of the material earns the rodents an E+ for effort.
One Foster's Pond resident who has had success in putting an end to beaver damage on his property offers this advice: "Over the last 10+ years, we have lost 7-8 good sized trees on our Azalea Drive property due to the beavers. I have not wanted to trap the beavers for a variety of reasons (like what do I do if I catch one). But I also did not want to lose any more trees. My solution is two-fold. First I bought 30" rabbit fencing and cut it so that I can wrap it around the base of the trees (this MUST be a VERY loose wrap or the tree will grow into the fence and die anyway). I do not attach it to the tree. I just encircle the base of the tree with about a foot of clearance on all sides. This has definitely discouraged the beavers without harming them. Secondly, my neighbor and I have stretched rabbit fencing along our shoreline. This was originally done to discourage the geese, but it also helps discourage the beavers from coming ashore. Note that you do not need to wrap evergreen trees as beavers don't go after them."