Mostly Trapping

Arboretum gets mounted beaver
Mar 20, 2019 08:10 ET

(Reprinted from above link)

John Bolander looked down at the beaver standing poised over a chewed limb, atop a display platform sitting on the tailgate of his truck.

“He weighed in at about 60 pounds,” Bolander said of the mounted mammal that seemingly smiled up at him, despite its plight.

The beaver’s pelt glistened in the afternoon sun.

Bolander pointed to the rear webbed feet, each complete with long claws, including the double toenail on one digit used for preening.

“They use their tail as a rudder for swimming but also use it to slap the water for a warning,” Bolander said.

He didn’t get to the fact they can hold their breath and stay submerged for up to 15 minutes, as his short lesson ended when Ken Ervin arrived at the Parsons Arboretum to open the Earl Seifert Visitors Center.

It is there, inside the education center, the beaver will now reside, allowing children to see one in full form and learn of the creature during special events like the annual Arbor Day celebration.

Bolander, assisted by Ervin’s daughter, DeeEllen Davis, carried the beaver into the center and set it on a glass cabinet. On a shelf behind it, a tree downed by beavers at the arboretum was displayed, along with a beaver’s skull, showing the long, dark-orange incisors that can snap a limb the size of a finger in a single bite.

“Their teeth grow their entire life. They have to chew to keep them worn down,” Bolander said, continuing his earlier lesson.

Amazing as beavers are, they are a bane to people who have ponds, streams and creeks on their property, causing extensive damage to trees.

“I’ve got nothing against beaver, but you should see my farm out there,” Bolander said. “All the trees around the pond are dying or are dead. They are all messed up.”

Bolander said beavers chewing on the base of the trees is killing them, so he started trapping them, including the one before him.

“I would take my backhoe down and tear the dams out and by the next morning they would be back up again,” he said.

Ervin said the 19-acre arboretum faced the same problem and has had to hire someone to trap beavers there as well because of the damage they cause to trees if left alone. Beavers are said to be able to cut down as many as 200 trees a year. They primarily seek out soft woods, like willow and cottonwoods.

“We hired the same guy he hired. We had four caught already this year,” Ervin said of beavers trying to inhabit the arboretum’s creek.

“You don’t want a beaver in an arboretum,” Bolander said, unless, of course, it’s a stuffed one.