Battle with the yard-wrecking beavers takes an unexpected turn

·5 min read

Sep. 13—Nobody really wants a family of beavers to take up residence in their backyard. At least, that's what I'm coming to understand after just such a thing happened to me. The responses I've received since sharing my tale of woe a week ago have largely fallen into the vein of "trap 'em," "whack 'em" or "hire someone to trap 'em and whack 'em."

Of course, most of those responses came from a group of my friends who are a bit more unforgiving toward unwanted wildlife invasions than your group of pals might be.

A couple of others reached out to tell me that they had other ideas.

The basic flavor of those responses: When life gives you beavers, make — well — arts and crafts, I suppose.

And since I'm trying really hard to embrace the presence of wild critters (except mice, spiders and snakes), I decided that taking a more artistic approach to my buck-toothed invaders made as much sense as anything else I'd heard.

One reader reached out with a very cool idea, in fact.

"I would suggest cutting the gnawed section of the tree off with a little of the trunk attached," she wrote. "Then split it vertically. Sand the pieces of wood and use poly or oil to finish.

"You will now have very unique bookends. At one time they sold them at a store in Bar Harbor for good money."

That, I thought, sounded great. The problem: I'm one of about six (as of last count) adult Mainers who have not yet learned how to use a chainsaw, and as a member in good standing of that club, I'm pretty sure that if I tried to create something like beaver-wood bookends, I'd succeed in cutting off one of my legs in the process.

With that said, I do have friends (a few) and a couple of them even have chainsaws that they know how to use. And I certainly love to read. A set of beaver-wood bookends would certainly be put to good use.

And come to think of it, repurposing the handiwork of a beaver is already something that I've got a bit of experience with.

A few years back, my buddy Chris gifted me a cool beaver-chewed stick that he'd found on one of his trips afield. He thought it would make a great walking stick. Not because I tend to walk with a limp and he figured I might need some extra support, you understand, but because he figured (or so he says) it would probably come in handy when I went out for a hike.

One problem: I'm not what you'd call a frequent hiker. And after a couple of hike-free years (during which my beaver stick sat in a corner of the garage, along with some unused rakes, hoes and sundry other garden implements), I decided that I simply had to find something to do with that cool piece of wood. The beavers, after all, had worked mighty hard to create it, so it ought to be put to good use.

That's when I took it out to my outdoor fire ring and began using it as a "pokey stick" when I'd light a little campfire on cool summer nights. (If you're a frequent backyard firestarter, you might not call your wood rearranging device a "pokey stick," but I'm pretty sure you have a similar implement close to hand as soon as the first match is lit.)

My pokey stick works great, and is long enough that so long as I limit the amount of moose juice I consume while watching the fire flicker, it's pretty much guaranteed that I won't have to get close enough to the blaze to turn myself into an inferno.

But back to my current beaver issue. Since my tree didn't fall on the house, I'm reluctant to call the situation a "problem." Yet.

After noticing the fallen tree and its beaver-chewed neighbor, I deployed a trail camera recently and have been eagerly waiting for more evidence of beaver activity that I could share with you. Unfortunately, according to my less-than-scientific beaver-o-meter, it doesn't appear that the still-standing tree has taken any more mega-bites over the past eight days.

Or, I guess, I meant to say "fortunately." Not that this tree is long for the world, mind you — Bucky has already reduced it to a leaning tower of birch that (again, fortunately) is tilted away from the house.

Still, I knew you'd love to see a video of my (current) nemesis (see also: red squirrels, moose, deer, et al.), so I had hoped to have had better luck.

That's not to say that I had no luck at all, mind you.

I did get a great video of another critter visiting the scene of the beaver's property crime. And when I first watched the video on a small thumbnail screen, I was quite certain that I'd captured footage of the world's most acrobatic and agile beaver.

Unfortunately (or is it fortunately?), my visitor was only a gray squirrel. And fortunately (or is it unfortunately?), the squirrel showed no interest in helping the beaver chew down the rest of my tree.

That, I'm sure you'll agree, would have been a video worth watching.

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