Monday 26 April 2010

Busy as a beaver

It is true! They are busy! One of the most influencial 4-legged critters in our region and the largest rodent, obvious to all well before written history, before we were Muskoka. Native peoples knew how to harvest such without decimating the natural ecosystem.

I love walking in Muskoka. Lots of natural places. The old snowmobile trails are interesting. We are surrounded by crown land.
I made a video on the event, and the blackflies insisted on getting in on the action. You can see them flitting about —that's for those who keep asking where they are!

Here is a lovely forest walk, with blackflies buzzing.
There is only one Muskoka, it is not: 'The Muskokas'. Muskoka is probably named for Mesqua Ukie, the Ojibwa leader associated with the area during the 1800's. It was then the hunting grounds of a band led by Chief Yellowhead or Mesqua Ukie.

The beaver (castor canadensis). 
They cause a powerful influence on its riparian habitat (check out all my beaver and beaver dam photos).

    Mind you, there are those who run snowmobiles on beaver ponds, leaving behind emissions from two-stoke engines. That is a choice I hope many do not make. This is why it important to stick to official trails.

    Adults usually weigh 15 to 35 kg (33–77 lbs), with 20 kg (44 lbs) a typical mass, and measure around 1 m (3.3 ft) in total body length. Very old individuals can weigh as much as 45 kg (100 lbs).[8] 
    The babies are so wee, here is a YouTube vid, not mine! 
    There are interesting sites that show the cross section of dams, with needs for water levels to keep them safe from predators. 

    I am amazed, with the beavers I've seen around here, how they can handle the logs that they do.

    Beavers are key in a watershed, as they store water for all sorts of critters, and the ponds, wetlands, and meadows formed by beaver dams increases bio-diversity and improves overall environmental quality.

    It is the beaver who can naturally create a wetland, while humans often seek to destroy them. Cottagers do not like them, as they tend to gnaw on the few trees (or docks!) that have not been clear cut when we create a living space. Removal of beaver dams can negatively affect fish and ... removal of a beaver dam may not prevent future beaver activity in the area.[ BEAVER DAM REMOVAL]

    Their dams mitigate flooding, reduce silt, allow roots time to absorb water in an ecosystem in drought conditions. They are an important part of ecosystems.

     Joe Kambietz writes:
    Controlling beavers or destroying their habitat on private, municipal or crown land is complicated greatly by the fact that the beaver is protected under provincial and federal law, as a fur-bearing animal. Also, the breaching of a beaver dam and the subsequent release of a large volume of water, silt and debris may violate the Canadian Fisheries Act and the Provincial Water Act.
    ... Provincial Ministry of Water, Land and Air Protection. The Provincial Ministry of Water, Land and Air Protection department handles nuisance wildlife calls, they issue trapping licenses and regulate hunting etc. ... Fisheries and Oceans Canada is responsible for migrating fish and their freshwater habitat.
    As with many attempts to control animals, another often moves in.  We know how unsuccessfully humans have had in controlling 4-legged animals, almost as hard as controlling ourselves! You can see the beer can in my video someone stuck on the perimeter of the dam. Plus I spotted 4 beer bottles on the ground.

    Fashionable beaver fur hats in the 1700's resulted in the early exploration of Canada. The trapping caused a decline in the beaver population, their glands were also used for perfume and its medicinal properties.

    Britain and France sent those who established Hudson Bay, and the Great Northwest company in search of valuable furs.

    Nearly extirpated in NA by early trappers, they decreased from about 60 million to an estimate 6 million, according to Wikipedia.

    Robert J. Naiman, Carol A. Johnston, and James C. Kelley (Dec. 1988). "Alteration of North American Streams by Beaver". BioScience: 753–762. Retrieved Feb. 28, 2010.

    Beaver Dam Information Site

    18 Sep 2008 ... Explains how beaver dams elevate water tables in watersheds and establish wetlands. Includes a discussion of the large number of beaver.


    KaHolly said...

    How dare those beavers intrude upon man's territory.

    Yogi♪♪♪ said...

    Beavers are very cool creatures. We have several living within two miles of our house in Tulsa. They are quite industrious. I've seen their handiwork but haven't seem them.

    Cathy Olliffe-Webster said...

    I love beavers! We watch them swim up and down the river all the time. Quite the show. And nobody works harder than they do.
    Beautiful photos, by the way, especially the one at the bottom.

    Jenn Jilks said...

    @KaHolly - you're funny!
    I've only seen a few, @Yogi. They are so quiet and slap those tail and disappear at a moments notice of me.
    Thanks, @Cathy, wasn't it a sweetie? Hooray for the 300mm zoom lens. (I still want a 500mm for my birthday!)

    This Is My Blog - fishing guy said...

    Jenn: Fun post with all the video and photos of the beaver. said...

    Oh I want a 500mm too!!!!!...but first I need a Great macro lens.....going to the Henry's Camera show at the Airport Center in May to get one Hooray!!!!!

    Glad you liked my Duchman's Breeches...they are sooo cute!!!!!