There is a park near my house with a river running through it. The river goes under a highway, as a tunnel. Over the Summer, the beavers dammed up areas of one side of the highway, and had created a pond, and had even made a lodge inside it. Recently, most likely a company nearby the river had the dams removed, the pond drained, and trees along the water cut to discourage the beavers. As a result, the family of beavers moved to the part of the river on the other side of the highway, which is forested instead of being a park. Like the beavers didn’t go through enough, the construction of apartments is going to soon be taking place by the beavers new dams in the forested area. With apartments going along the beavers new home, I am almost certain that destruction of the beaver dams will be necessary for the buildings to be made without flood interference. My question is if there is any way for the beavers to live in a small pond nearby the river, or even just live in the river without damming it? I am just sad that the beavers will most likely have to leave the area, so wondering if there is any way for them to stay?
The nature of nature is to change. The nature of humans is to build things to resist change. Harmonious relations involve giving one another room: leave the flood plains to the beavers, and build on high ground.
(My understanding is that the beavers return the favor: 50 years from now the land is more productive for the accumulated silt and organics than if the beavers hadn’t periodically dammed it. So you can farm the land, if you share and are flexible. You just can’t assume it’s yours alone and in perpetuity.)
I am almost certain that destruction of the beaver dams will be necessary for the buildings to be made without flood interference.
If that is the case it almost sounds like the people in question are building on a floodplain. It used to be that people actually avoided building on floodplains or near beaver dams, because they knew if a heavy rainfall ever happened their houses would wash away. Even later on governments had to massively subsidize people living in flood zones to encourage people to move there because otherwise nobody wanted to live, say, right next to the Mississippi River. I think The Source by Martin Doyle talks a lot about that.
In terms of beavers surviving alongside humans…it’s hard to say. In my area you rarely see beavers outside of national parks. They’re generally a species that doesn’t thrive well if something else disrupts their ability to build dams, which humans do, as unlike most species (e.g., muskrat) they have very specific, very large habitat requirements. Most species that favor a “slow and steady” life history strategy don’t do well around humans.
The nature of nature is to change. The nature of humans is to build things to resist change.
Realistically, the beavers are doing the exact same thing the humans are. Both are manipulating their environment in a way to resist change. Beavers dam the river to keep the flow of water consistent and create a stable, permanent body of water that is suitable for them to live in. Humans bulldoze the dams and the forest because they are trying to create a stable, permanent area that doesn’t flood. This is the case for most species that deliberately modify their environments (humans, elephants, alligators, prairie dogs, beavers, ants).
Saying the beavers are on the side of “change” is inaccurate. Indeed, IIRC, under normal circumstances ponds with beaver dams tend to be very stable as long as the dams are maintained. It’s just the two species’ definition of ideal habitat is different. And no species is good at sharing, even if they end up benefitting from it in the long term.
Here beavers live in city parks, so they definitely can thrive near humans, but not if the latter want to build right over beavers’ houses.
There is a place in India where the locals live peacefully alongside leopards(National Geographic made an article on it), but most people do not have that kind of respect(they also believe the leopard is one of their god’s in animal form, but there is still a mutual respect). The chances of humans peacefully coexisting with any wildlife are….pretty slim(but that is my opinion based on my observation and painfully realistic mindset).
The general answer to the title question is yes, if people are willing to coexist with beavers. Here’s a relevant article from Vancouver, BC, Canada: https://www.rewildingmag.com/can-beavers-make-our-cities-better/
I found the link. It is in Jaipur, India. These people are worshippers of Shiva and the relationship between the leopards and humans is….quite beautiful.
And another link.
Building on a flood plain … how surprisingly stupid is that, especially nowadays?
On topic … yes, they can. And now the question has to be put the other way round: can people coexist with beavers? Some do. Too many do not care at all, unfortunately.
No. Next question.
Seriously, the term busy as a beaver doesn’t come from nowhere. The sound of flowing water compels them to want to stop it. Most of the flooding happens on small rivers or through them blocking culverts. They want to create a pond. Ducks Unlimited, which is in the business of making wetlands, has extensive experience with culverts and beavers. They might have some sort of solution for your problem, or at least some advice.
Beavers live in the Red River, which runs through my city. It’s wide, 75-100m across and turns into a huge shallow lake when it has major floods (like this year). The beavers don’t make dams across it (although one year I saw a valiant attempt!), so they can live in conjunction with people. They do cause damage to trees, are very persistent, and flood some areas, so are considered by many people to be a pest. With the river so high this year, they are up on the bank, and have cut down many trees.
Can people coexist with nature?
History repeats itself…
beavers where almost completely erased from Europe and we did not have beavers for over 100 years in Germany. Thanks to a successful reintroduction programe beavers are now back and do well in some areas… and some people basically call for extinction again… it´s so sad…
They are here. If you look at old ariel photos this entire area was wet say for the few higher areas. The higher areas have been built on so now theyre filling stuff in. I have watched over the last decade them building more and more, draining wetlands and bringing in TONS of soil and rock to bring the foundations high enough.
Then they blame the beavers for flooding when the run off from all this construction is full of silt and clogging up the drainages they put in. But there is TVA and Wheeler Wildlife land not to mention all the wetlands on Redstone, so the beavers have reprieve.
Ive been watching the corner that was productive farmland (from the nice soil flooding beavers helped make, like was talked about above). The land value got so high it was sold to a developer. They luckily figured out to leave some of it wet; putting berms around it im sure it will be a little sidewalk for future residents around it, but are currently on hold with most the building because the spring rains flooded out what they thought was above flood zone (i assume, at least). Because ya build up, the water still has to go somewhere…and that one spot I know is spring fed and Im sure they didnt have a geologist help. Theyre digging around it massively right now, having to add more wet area by digging back up everything they filled in before in that section, haha!
If there is a desire to spend the money and effort, the use of Beaver Deceivers (you can google that and find many articles) can provide a solution to flooding caused by beavers and still allow them to exist and dam in proximity to human infrastructure. Unfortunately the quick and easy solution is often to trap out the offending beavers.
We can. I was about to facetiously add ‘next question’.
This is a big issue for me. Will we, is the big question. Humans in general have a great disregard for the non-human world. In a way, it is understandable. Humans want to live, maintain their culture, and to reproduce. We tend to see the non-human world as a means to that end. Messy lawn = bad. Mow 4 acres to make it look nice. A piece of bush? Wasteland. Bulldoze it and make houses. And roads, and whatever. Sewers backing up? Discharge raw waste into the convenient river. Birds of prey living in the area? What about our dogs and cats, or potential injuries to people. Why is that plant important - we don’t need it for anything.
Essentially, the non-human world does not matter to the majority of people, especially in the rich world, which values it’s comfort and convenience way to much.
So, yes, we can, but will we?
They need a beaver deceiver. (I’m not making this up) Our town has a new wetland restoration next to a highway that occasionally floods. They incorporated beavers into the design. Two years in, it is working wonderfully. They had contest to name the beavers. The Van Dams won. The park is quite popular with the local running community and the beavers are quite popular. Better yet, I found a Willow Flycatcher there and many other wonderful birds recently! Our area is undergoing rapid development. This was a rare moment of foresight that has helped people and nature.
That’s excellent I hope they have one called Jean-Claude.
Okay, I will look into the company that may be able to help the beavers. Hopefully the family can remain in the area!
Thank you for the suggestions everyone!
Ecological Design Group built our park. There is a sign there that I can’t find any info online for or quite remember completely, but it reference some group specifically about the beavers. I’m thinking perhaps https://www.beaverinstitute.org/
So basically, people are Vogons.