Beavers handing it to the City

Spring Creek Park Google Map Spring Creek beaver damSpring Creek flows under Jefferson Parkway at Prairie Street, forming 3 ponds in Spring Creek Park north of the parkway. (Click photos to enlarge.) A walking/bike path surrounds the pond with a footbridge over the creek at the north end of the area. See the screenshot of the Google satellite view with the arrow pointing to the footbridge (right). See this live Google map of the area to zoom in and out.

Back in mid-September, City of Northfield Wastewater Superintendent Glenn Lindroos wrote in the Friday Memo for the week of September 15-19, 2008 about the beaver dam at the footbridge.

Beavers have created a pond in an undeveloped area in the south end of town. The water is over the top of one manhole making it inaccessible for inspection. The Department of Natural Resources was contacted to see what remedies are available. The DNR has no problem with the City destroying the dam to drain the area and encourage the beaver to move. If they persist in rebuilding in the area we can get a permit from the conservation officer to have the animals trapped out. A backhoe was used to destroy the dam. Staff will check the area next week to see if the beaver remain active in the area.

Since the City destroyed the original beaver dam, the beavers have been inspired to rebuild the dam ASAP, destroying thousands of dollars of area trees in the process.
Spring Creek beaver damage Spring Creek beaver damage Spring Creek beaver damage
Many trees in the area on city park property have taken a hit (above photos).

Spring Creek beaver damage Spring Creek beaver damage Spring Creek beaver damage
Dozens of trees in neighboring homeowner yards have also been hit hard. Wire mesh at the base of the neighbors’ trees to prevent damage has had to be heightened. I got this email from a neighbor:

Well, the beavers have nearly done us in!!   Now they have cleared out most of the dogwoods.  They climbed up above the metal wrap we put on the aspens and redbuds and have gone after them, and although so far they haven’t felled them, I’m sure they are dead.  Only the evergreens and the oaks escape them.  Our neighbor told us beavers took down a six inch oak at their cabin, so now we are going to reinforce the metal on them.   Anybody know a bow hunter??

It seems to me that the City make a mistake in destroying the first beaver dam. According to this Wisconsin DNR document (PDF) on beaver management, destroying a beaver dam is the LAST option to try and is often not successful.  Controlling water levels with “beaver pipes” can often be a better option (see p. 7):

Water levels in beaver ponds can be regulated so that, although the ponds remains, the water level is not so high that it causes damage. Or, if the beaver cannot keep the water level high, they may get discouraged and move to a new sight [sic].

More on beaver pipes here.

Can homeowners kill the beavers on their own inside city limits by trapping them or shooting them with a bow and arrow? Will the Friends of Beavers Association care?

10 thoughts on “Beavers handing it to the City”

  1. We’ve enjoyed watching the beavers all summer and fall. The new rebuilt dam is so much better than the old dam. rumor has it that some of the felled trees were planted on city property illegally. Not sure if that is true or not, but they did appear in a strange spot. The grass in this same area was being mowed and the city does not typically mow it. I guess the beavers took matters into their own hands.

    I’ve found the best time to watch the beaver family is dusk. I’m not sure if they will follow the time change, never seen the beavers wearing watches. I’ve seen a green heron in the area as well and occasionally a blue heron perches on top of the bridge. Maybe the city could send the skunks packing and keep the beavers.

  2. I would have been amused by this story a week ago. Since then I took a walk in Connecticut past a lake which housed MANY beavers (judging both by the damage and the number of dens). The beavers had taken down many trees, including a few of 18-24 inches in diameter, leaving some stunning stumps. A number of other trees weren’t down yet but would clearly die since the bark at the appropriate level was gone. I hope the city takes this seriously.

  3. Thanks for that link, John. Since the beaver dam is not on private property, area homeowners evidently can’t get rid of the beavers on their own.

    I’ve emailed City of Northfield Wastewater Superintendent Glenn Lindroos to see if he’ll comment here.

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