Living with Beavers

Living with Beavers


There are beavers in our pond again. I’d put some crabapple cuttings in the fire pit and on the habitat behind the woodpile for my voles. The next day there was this well-worn muddy path from the pond, and most of the cuttings were gone. My husband cleaned out the culvert.  This is the first problem that needs solving if the beavers are to stay.  There are other problems to living with beavers that we’ve seen before.

The culvert drains my pond and another upstream diverting most of the suburban runoff on a winding path to the Fox River.  Notice the naked, bark-eaten branches.

I put out my camera trap and more crabapple branches.  And then the floods came ( we got 4.5″ of rain on one day flooding the firepit and vole habitat. Read about it here), so there were no beaver pictures.

A Daylight Visit

However, yesterday evening as I stood in my kitchen, I noticed a furry head making a wake coming in from the left. “The muskrat is here,” I remarked. “No! That’s the beaver!” I excitedly corrected myself.  I watched the beaver climb out of the water onto the bank on the far side of the pond where I’d cleared the buckthorn, honeysuckle, and garlic mustard to plant native woodland flowers years before. I slinked out the door with my camera in hand.   The two Canada goose families were on the lawn. As long as they don’t alarm or flee, the beaver shouldn’t be concerned either.  He chewed on an old, rotten landscape timber that had been relocated by the weekend’s flood.

Living with Beavers
Chewing on the rotted landscape timber

Zig-zagging closer with one eye on the geese, I crept through the yard.  The beaver ambivalently dropped back into the water, swam at the surface for about 20 feet to the end of the pond, and then hauled out again.  Waddling across the neighbor’s mowed lawn, he entered the woods and resumed foraging.  With the beaver so occupied, I tiptoed up behind the thick, gnarly trunk of my old willow tree. I kept watching and taking pictures. One pair of geese and their four goslings quietly slipped into the water and moved off to the other side of the pond.  They’d had enough of my antics.  The second group, a family of three, who are notoriously less concerned about just about everything, continued grazing.

The beaver got back in the water, causing a wake as he paddled away.

Swimming Away
Beaver Wake

Then he began to curve around.  He was swimming straight at me.

Swimming Beaver
Curving back towards me

I zoomed out and continued to photograph.  And zoomed out some more.  The beaver paused three feet from shore, about twenty feet from me. He gazed at me for a moment and then curled under the surface with hardly a ripple.

Beaver Visit


The water doesn’t even seem deep enough here for him to dive.  In a moment, he reappeared closer still but with his back toward me (the ultimate sign of trust) gliding toward the other end of the pond again. Past my dock, he veered toward the shore where the family of geese had relocated. He swam directly toward them just as he’d approached me.  The goslings were onshore eating and the parents were in the water.  They were not having it!  One of the adults rushed the beaver, who recoiled in a rush of water and disappeared.


I took 199 pictures. These are the experiences that make me think I must be putting a lot of good out into the world – to have a beaver sighting in my own backyard and get some shareable photographs is unreal. To have beaver to come over to see me – that’s magic. My heart is full.  I hope we can find a way to live together. My wish for you is that you will find things in your life today that fill your heart, too.

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