Sara Golling
By Sara Golling
November 5th, 2016

A beaver arrived at Star Gulch Reservoir a while ago, and made his or her presence known by chewing nearly through some trees along the water’s edge, one of which was nearly 40 centimetres in diameter; see the photo above. 

It might have been interesting and educational to have a beaver family living in the reservoir, but because that would have created problems for the City’s water infrastructure, Manager of Public Works Darrin Albo arranged to have the creature trapped and relocated before it could find a spouse and settle in to build a lodge and fill it with offspring, and before it could fell any more trees along the shores of the reservoir. 

City workers had to complete the job begun by the beaver, by felling and removing the chewed trees, which were a hazard.

Beavers need to keep gnawing on wood all their lives to keep their teeth manageable, because their “cutting teeth” — incisors — never stop growing.  The teeth are self-sharpening, because the outer-facing layer of the teeth is harder than the inward-facing layer.  The outer layer is also orange or brown; it contains iron, and is more acid-resistant than most creatures’ teeth. 

Beavers like eating poplar, cottonwood, aspen, birch, willow, and maple, but will chew other trees as well, and also eat other vegetation such as sedges, cattails, pondweed, and water lilies.

We don’t know where the adventurous beaver was taken, but we hope the new place is more suitable for beavers, whose environmental impact in nature is known to be generally positive.   Their ponds create wetlands which filter and purify the water flowing through them, and also create or improve habitat for many other creatures.  They slow down the flow of water for better water retention.  Beavers have been unfairly maligned by the term “beaver fever” (giardia) even though they are no nore guilty of carrying that parasite than many other animals, including birds and humans.  New Zealand has giardia, but no beavers, according to Wikipedia, and Norway has beavers but has traditionally not had giardia.

Take a stroll along Centennial Trail, and watch for the stumps chewed by the beaver.

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