Beavers Abound

One reason that my small town has remained small, despite being less than thirty miles from Boston, is that much of the landscape looks like this.

beaver country

There are extensive stretches of wetlands, and where it’s not wet and mucky, there are granite outcroppings and rubble leftover from the last ice age. It wasn’t good for farming, or road building, or development. By the time modern construction equipment came along, much of the land had already been put under environmental protection.

Today any remaining usable parcels are valuable, and the town struggles over questions of development. There are endless meetings between builders and the Board of Health, and Planning, and Conservation.

But, there is one builder that goes about mostly unfettered. Here is an example of her work.

large lodge


See that mound in the middle of the wetlands? It’s a beaver lodge.

lodge closeup


The dead trees nearby are due to the beavers’ flooding of this plain (which is just over the town line in the community next door.) Whereas humans are prevented from impacting these wildlands, beavers go about building their homes without ever having to get permission. It’s essential work. Sometimes, though, the damming and tree felling happens in a backyard, and a lawn disappears into an expanding pond. (Since we rely on septic systems, this can be especially problematic!)  Our department of public works employees have spent hours clearing out culverts to keep roadways from being flooded.

Beaver populations are growing (beavers are rodents and breed like such) and they’re expanding their range. My house is a distance from the small rivers and wetlands that beavers prefer. So far, my property hasn’t turned into a waterfront lot.

I’ve yet to take a photo of a beaver, so here is one pulled from the internet.



The term busy as a beaver is apt. There’s a reason that Steve’s MIT class ring has a beaver on it. These animals are determined and creative engineers. But, like all wild animals that live in territory that overlaps ours, there are on-going tensions. Last spring I rode Tonka down a familiar trail at the backside of the the town’s fire station. The path took us past a newly felled tree, which had tell-tale beaver teeth marks on it. A dam there would have flooded the parking area for the fire trucks. Luckily for the town, the beaver moved on. That said, at the time, I took a moment to marvel at what a beaver could do with only a pair of big yellow teeth and determination!


image from National Geographic


  1. As I see it, People have built enough and their is no need to build more homes or developments. When thier are thousands if not millions of abandoned and empty home and apartments across America, that with a little TLC can be fabulous places to live… People just need to leave the environment and land alone.

  2. It’s wonderful to hear that you still have land for them. I’ve watched them disappear here because of loss of land to us humans. A couple of time they were ‘gotten rid of’ because the people near them didn’t want to risk getting flooded. I would much rather have beavers for neighbors than a bunch of noisy people.

  3. In Delaware we have what are called tax ditches since we pay a specific ditch tax for their maintenance. The beaver come and build dams. their lodges are built into the side of the ditch causing the banks to cave in. the environmental department (DNREC) engages a trapper to remove the beaver. They kill them. since their is no change to the environment beaver return. I have a pond that is about 50 feet from the ditch. I have pictures of the beaver swimming in the pond. they come and eat the water lily tubers. They have never built their lodge in my pond. when I was a child growing up in this same area we had no beaver. I enjoy seeing the signs of their presence.but very rarely see them. usually when I do see them it is a foggy and cloudy day at daybreak or sunset. I do not support the killing of the beaver but the powers that be don’t care. I do know when the beaver have dams in the ditches there is more water in the ditches and this brings many different kinds of ducks.. beaver are very tenacious. they also are powerful fighters. A hunter I know has camera shots of beaver fighting a dog. I need to end my comments before I write a book.

  4. Yes, we have eager Beavers here and they certainly do live up to their reputation. Our island is fairly small…Aprox. 15 miles or so long and maybe 6 or so miles wide at the thickest parts but most of it is much narrower. There are a few small lakes, 2 of which are our sources of community water. We have volunteers that have to maintain the creeks etc so the salmon can do their thing and to keep flooding onto the roadways at a minimum, thanks to all the hard work of the Beavers. One of my friends who lives across the street from a lake woke up recently to the sad sight of one of her Apple trees lying on the ground…the gnaw marks of a Beaver were obvious but the `why` was not as they just left it there, looking sad and forlorn.

  5. My ex-sister and brother in law had a culvert under their driveway. Apparently the running water through that culvert drove the local beavers crazy. They were constantly trying to damn is up. ;-)

  6. A number of years ago the people voted against trapping now those same people are asking why so meany beavers are causing so much flooding!! We must vote with an educated mind, not on lies!! So how appropriate today is voting day!