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Holliston Beavers

by Andrew Mades

The True Importance of the Beaver

There has been a lot of talk lately about how beavers are “destroying natural habitats” and they are generally being treated as a nuisance to homeowners,the town, and (I was quite shocked when I read this in the comments of the last article on beavers) the environment itself.

The beaver is actually creating more and varied habitats by coming back into town. New England is not supposed to be nothing but forest from Provincetown to the Hudson River. There is supposed to be a variety of marshes, woods, bogs, ponds, and meadows. The beaver is instrumental in creating many of those environments, especially the ponds, bogs, and meadows. As a beaver’s dam matures it slowly backs up the silt in the creek and eventually all of the trees within a large radius of the dam are brought down. Once the trees are gone the beavers will move on, the dam will break down, and a large area around the creek that had been dammed will be grassland until the trees grow back. Once the trees grow back, a beaver family will fix up the old dam and the cycle will start over again. Allowing the beavers to live in town (on our conservation lands, which are supposed to be for nature, mind you) will eventually return meadows and the species that accompany them to our town.

Now, there is one other way that meadows have traditionally been created in New England. The Indians used to do controlled burns for one reason or another for thousands of years before they were driven off their land. Since we aren’t going to do that, I suggest we let the beavers do what they do best.

Many plant species rely on meadows to survive, being full sun grasses and flowers, and have been marginalized in the environment because of the way it’s supposed to be-farming-denser woodland than it should be and if we let the beavers come back we will see fields full of flowers again. We will also see the cottontail rabbit make a recovery and save that species from extinction for they rely on those fields that no longer exist.

Let the beavers stay at Wenakeening, use “pond levelers” to protect homes, and stop talking about the most important animal in our ecosystem as a pest please.

Comments (6)

Thank you Andrew, for your article. Sometimes, it seems to be quite common for people to be quick to view wildlife as pests and want to eradicate any wildlife that gets in the way of their comfort. Your article serves as a reminder that every animal indigenous to this ecosystem has an important role to play and perhaps we can work to live symbiotically.

Angela | 2014-09-02 09:04:43

Thank you....they are amazing..and happy to see an appreciative story about them...yes..rethink where you build ..and if you already live where they create problems...I wish that wasn't so...

KATE | 2014-09-01 09:08:19

I enjoyed this article. It expresses a little-heard point of view quite persuasively. Of course I wouldn't want my land flooding, but if the beaver deceivers work, then let's try them. Our lack of reverence for the way nature keeps itself healthy is part of what's behind the dramatic changes taking place on the planet. Andrew Mades reminds us to draw back and see the bigger picture, and I commend that endeavor.

Susan | 2014-08-30 18:13:54

Very well said. The beavers are the environment, so how can they be said to be destroying it? I think we are the ones who need to rethink where and how much we build.

carol | 2014-08-30 12:21:41

If you use "pond levelers," by which I think you mean "beaver deceivers" which allow water to flow quietly under dams, then your vaunted cycle from trees to meadows doesn't occur. Try living on Lake Winthrop with your little friends raising the water level in your backyard, then see how much you love them.

tpartynitwit | 2014-08-30 05:59:13

Nicely researched and well written article.

Mike | 2014-08-30 04:22:31