Caught Red-Handed

Recently, while looking out a back window, Tim spied a well-worn path from the riverbank into the sparse woodland at the bottom of the hill behind our home. Eager to get a closer look, we put on our boots and clomped down the steep slope.

Yes, there definitely was a path, but no, we couldn’t determine the identity of our visitor. Maybe a raccoon, we thought; or perhaps one of the river otters we sometimes see around this time of year.

We should be so lucky.

Tim’s trail camera has revealed our busy, nocturnal friend is a beaver.

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And unfortunately, this one is doing his best to earn his reputation as a mover and a shaker. In short order, he’s taken out every tree I’ve planted on the terrace near the river, including the small dogwood (Cornus) you can see in the photos.

Hmmm…maybe coyotes aren’t so bad after all.

32 thoughts on “Caught Red-Handed

  1. donutsandpizzas

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    Reply
  2. Marian St.Clair Post author

    Christina–When I do a program for a garden group and finish with Q&A, inevitably, the first query is always how to kill some animal that is damaging the garden–mole, vole, chipmunk, you name it. We have such a strong mind-set about what is “ours” it’s hard to persuade folks otherwise. Though I find it difficult to offer any defense for voles, for now at least, I’m taking a wait and see attitude with Mr. Beaver. Plus, I’m heading to the hardware store for some chicken wire to wrap around other trees within his reach.

    Reply
  3. irl

    Marian, we live on Keowee, and beaver are dining on my Knock Out Roses, Japanese Maples, Yellow Bell Forsythia, and Burning Bushes to name a few. We put up chicken wire on the new Japanese Maple and they climbed up the wire and cut the new one down. Amazing too, is the fact they leave no evidence. Smart animals.

    Reply
  4. Marian St.Clair Post author

    Irl–I have to admit, it is very discouraging. After three floods this spring/summer and now a beaver, I don’t think I’ll be planting anything else near the river for awhile.

    Reply
  5. pbmgarden

    It must be frustrating to have this beaver in your life Marian. So sad to lose your trees like that. (I can’t offer anything nice to say about voles either.)

    Reply
  6. Gloria Ballard

    Another reminder that Nature rules the planet and we struggle to adapt! Would hardware cloth be less climb-able than chicken wire?

    Reply
  7. Lyn

    Native habitats have their drawbacks…I’ve learned. I have no love for deer, rabbits, or Mosquitos that are so prevalent in the woods behind us!

    Reply
  8. Pauline

    Beavers used to be here hundreds of years ago but man hunted them to extinction. Suddenly we now have a family of beavers on our local river, where have they come from, who released them there, they are causing quite a stir in the local community, some people for leaving them, some for getting rid of them, we will have to wait and see the outcome.
    Sorry yours is destroying your carefully planted trees, unfortunately that is what they do and that is why some people don’t want them back in Britain even though they were native to Britain at one time.

    Reply
    1. Marian St.Clair Post author

      Pauline–Wow, that is a sticky issue. Folks here are having the same thoughts about the coyotes which have been reintroduced. I keep remininding myself that my passion for native wildflowers should go hand and hand with native wildlife, but Mr. Beaver is making that idea hard to swallow.

      Reply
  9. Linda Butcher

    I love the trail cam! But I understand your frustration with your guest trail makerL

    Is there any way you can deter it/them?

    Linda Butcher

    Reply
  10. Nancy Shannon

    Marion, we had to put chicken wire around the base of our trees at lake wylie. The beavers were eating through the trunk and downing large trees not shrub. They work quickly. FYI Nancy

    Sent from my iPad

    >

    Reply
  11. Cathy

    Beavers were reintroduced to the Danube in Germany in the 1970s and 80s and there are very mixed feelings about them! So many trees have been lost, but if protected with wire they are ignored, so hope your attempts work! Such a shame that he’s already taken out so many. 😦

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  12. Julie

    Hi Marian, I am sorry for your trees but I just felt how exciting to be visited by a Beaver, hope you find a balance for your wildlife and your garden.

    Reply
  13. Susan

    I’ve been able to keep them from cutting down my Bald Cypress trees by burying fencing wire (hog wire) and then wrapping it around the tree. It’s really wrapped tighter than is ideal for the tree but so far the beaver have left them alone. I gradually loosen the wire. The half dozen or so planted before have been long cut down. I used to really dislike them but then did some reading. They mate for life, have a lid over their eyes that allows them to swim w/their eyes open, and of course, other than man, modify the earth’s landscape more than any other animal. Then that modification creates nice habitats for other creatures. Or at least that’s what I try to tell my “look on the bright side” self.

    Reply
  14. Marian St.Clair Post author

    Susan–There was a wonderful nature show on beavers recently on PBS, which is probably the only thing that’s keeping me off the war path. Fingers crossed the wire does the trick. It was too cold today to do much but I wrapped my native magnolias and pawpaws, which are the most important to me.

    Reply
  15. Chloris

    Heart- breakingly destructive but how exciting to see a beaver.
    We all like the idea of encouraging wildlife to the garden in theory. In fact we are quite selective about what wildlife we will allow.
    I don’ t want rats, voles, moles, mice ( unless they are cute dormice) deer, rabbits, squirrels, slugs, snails lily beetle, asparagus beetle, vine weevil, and cabbage white butterflies to name but a few.
    I do like birds, but not pigeons, sparrowhawks or magpies. I like butterflies but not cabbage whites. Oh, and I like earthworms. It’ s not much is it? Who am I trying to kid when I claim to like wildlife?

    Reply
    1. Marian St.Clair Post author

      Chloris–Well put. I woke up in the middle of the night worried about the black walnut tree. The problem with beavers is they know no bounds. There’s a very lovely nature park just a few miles down river; our tax money has made him a very lovely home, but oh no, he has to strike out on his own. The audacity!

      Reply
  16. gardeninacity

    I am definitely pro-coyote! One problem with having a habitat garden is that many metro areas lack sufficient predators to keep the herbivores at bay. People really need to get past the idea that predators are bad and deer, raccoons, etc. are cute and should always be protected. Of course, coyotes will snatch the occasional house pet left outside at night … but cats at least should not be left outside anyhow.

    Reply
  17. Marian St.Clair Post author

    Jason–You are right. I had rabbit marauders in my previous garden and felt guilty whenever I was in a murderous rage. I guess you could call it the Beatrix Potter syndrome–one side of the brain thinks the bunnies are cute but the other side knows they are monsters in furry disguise!

    Reply

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