East Tennessee Outdoors: Beaver
(Reprinted from above link)
Many parts of East Tennessee are under an invasion. These invaders will move to your land, destroy trees, claim your waterways and generally wreak havoc on your world.
No, it is not aliens, but something that weighs less than a hundred pounds. The American Beaver!
East Tennessee beaver is back and they are here to stay this time. It wasn’t too long ago that seeing a beaver or beaver dam was a rare occurrence in this area but today they populate almost every body of water large enough to support them.
When some of the first French explorers came to America, they were seeking a way to make money from this new territory. What they found were beaver.
For centuries, trappers and hunters harvested many of these animals to supply fur that was used in felt beaver hats that were fashionable in Europe. They trapped and hunted until there were not that many left to take.
This also happened in this area. After all, most of Tennessee was claimed by France up to the French and Indian War. At the time France claimed all the land from the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains to the Mississippi River
Fast forward to 2020 and you will find that the beaver has made an astounding comeback, especially considering they only give birth once a year to a litter of one to eight kits.
Today beaver can be found in almost every waterway that offers enough water and habitat to support them. In fact, they have expanded so much they have become a problem to many landowners, especially farmers.
The beaver is the only animal that changes its habitat to suit its needs, so if they need a waterway to be deeper, they will dam it up. This can cause flooding for the entire area and cause farmers to lose crops that die because of too much moisture.
They do more than flood an area, however, as they also cut down any trees they can use for food.
A beaver’s food consists of the bark from trees such as maple, poplar, willow, and beech. They also eat buds of trees, saplings, and undergrowth around the trees.
Left unchecked, a beaver colony can destroy an area by flooding the area and cutting down most of the area’s trees and if you see one beaver, you can assume you have eight to ten.
In many places, though, these flat-tail rodents (yes, they are members of the rodent family) live in harmony with nature and their environment. Since they are a very nocturnal animal, you will not always see them. If you look closely, however, you will see that they are there.
To find them, look for trees without bark because it has been chewed off. Also, look for fallen trees and brush piles in the water that may reveal a lodge.
Beaver plays a role in the ecosystem of our mountains and I am glad they are there. Yes, they can cause a few problems, but they are just being beaver.
If you want more information on hunting or trapping for beaver, contact the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency or pick up a copy of the current Tennessee Hunting and Trapping Guide.