Battling Beavers

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Last fall, on the back of the farm, John discovered a forty-foot dam built of sticks and small branches blocking a stream that flows out of a swamp. He also found a second location where a critter had blocked an overflow pipe that runs under a causeway bordering the edge of a large pond. The pipe transfer excess water from the pond to the swamp on the other side of the causeway.

“Muskrats,” John fussed.

But a trail camera provided a nocturnal image of a beaver hauling a stick, and a friend pointed out a tree stump with teeth marks.

“Beavers!” I rejoiced, having longed to welcome the furry rodents to our farm.

Every morning, John dismantled the upper sections of the dam, and every night, the engineers rebuilt them. I suggested that he should leave the dams so they could trap the water we might need for irrigating our blueberry bushes, but John worried the rising pond water might harm certain trees. The war continued with the beavers winning. I began to read EAGER, an award-winning book about beavers, and read to John a section about how “beaver deceivers” could eliminate his problems.

John attached a wire cage to one end of a twenty-foot long and six-inch-wide plastic pipe. Along with a friend, they removed a section of the beaver’s dam and inserted the pipe. The end with the cage was submerged in the pond with a cement block to provide weight. The open end allowed water to flow through the dam and into a small stream. For months, the beaver deceiver tricked my friends who continued chomping on saplings and hauling them to their dam. But in October, the beavers realized how the

wire cage threatened their work, and they plugged it with sticks. Giving in, John pulled out the pipe. Soon the beavers will slumber through winter, and we will ponder a new way to deceive them, come spring.

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