|Beaver willow harvest|
Beaver love the willows whose bark is a primary food source. They can mow the gravel bar nearly clean and yet the next year it will be a dense thicket with thicker trunks. With a renewable resource like this, we should be theoretically able to enjoy beaver entertainment forever.
|Threatened riparian bank|
This year the damage was particularly dramatic, killing over 50% of the trees along the oxbow pond. Pencil point stumps both fresh and old dot the area, a few surrounded with a dozen suckers sprouting into a replacement. While we are invested in expanding the riparian plantings, they follow their dietary urges, decimating the existing mature corridor. Man is now their only significant predator.
"In some situations, these animals can enhance the value of wetlands for other wildlife. Yet, populations of beavers must be closely monitored and occasionally controlled to avoid problems associated with their over-abundance." MDCTrapping is now a part of the balance of nature in Missouri and it is now trapping season* through March 31. I quit trapping some years ago. Wading in waist deep water, and reaching down into the freezing water to set the traps is a younger man's sport. Traps must be checked every 48 hours. Cleaning and stretching the pelt on a willow frame took hours and ended any "mountain man" fantasies quickly.
|50# plus beaver|
|Disrupted beaver dam|
It should be several years before the beaver population reaches a level where they are destroying the large trees. As long as they are feasting on our tasty willows, we will remain good neighbors.
* Off-season trapping is only done by the Missouri Department of Conservation when beavers are causing significant financial damage. This includes destroying urban plantings and obstruction of waterways of importance.