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Reclusive Beaver Can’t Hide Its Tracks With Ice On the Pond

All around in Lundy Canyon, the aspen show recent evidence of beaver (C. canadensis) activity, including a few magnificent quaking aspen of nearly two feet in diameter being felled for beaver food, and smaller growth up to 1-inch in diameter nipped off sharply as with a powerful loppers, and at a perfect height to impale the unwary visitor*. The dams of logs, sticks, mud and rocks in some places are truly impressive works of genius as the animal kingdom goes.

But nary a sign of the critter. I’ve not seen the animal about , which makes sense since it is primarily a nocturnal rodent, though I have heard a loud slap (beaver tail).

When the small ponds freeze up, the beaver still wants to move around and the evidence accrues. Here is one of two places where I observed broken ice near the “slide” to the next lower pond, seen at lower right.

* Nor would you want to be bitten by a beaver.

Lundy Canyon iced-over small beaver pond, November 18, 2013
Sigma DP1 Merrill

The fibrous diet consumed by the giant rodent has to be eliminated, and hence this fresh high fiber scat is confirmation of an active beaver nearby, if the fresh-cut wood were not enough.

Fresh beaver scat in Lundy Canyon, November 18, 2013
Sigma DP3 Merrill

In the Eastern Sierra Nevada, beavers are an introduced (non native) species, and one might ponder if they should therefore be eliminated as with other invasive species, if only to save the giant 100+ year old aspen, of which some exceptional examples exist in Lundy Canyon. But bleeding hearts would surely object, and to be fair, the beavers offer very worthwhile benefits such as the long term development of meadows in alpine watersheds. So at this point leaving them to do their thing seems well enough, though seeing exceptional mature aspen specimens felled is hardly cause for celebration.


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