Our Man In Canada
June 21st, 1999

By Kevin Fancy

The Beaver is Canada's largest rodent. Their range extends to every province, and thus have become the adopted symbol of our country. Busy as a Beaver is not just an idle comment and should be received as high praise indeed, as this creature is the epitome of a tireless worker. It is interesting to note that the Beaver is such a tenacious worker that it alone in the animal kingdom shares an important trait with man. The Beaver is the only animal besides man that creates its own habitat.

Lately the Beaver has received some bad press especially in Washington. Not undeserved, the damage caused by some local populations in the form of property destruction, flooding of fields and roadways and destruction of young trees is not the fault of the animal itself but more the result of their swelling ranks. It is now believed that present day Beaver numbers are higher than they were when Europeans first arrived a few hundred years ago.

What is being done to keep the beaver under control? Gray Arnett of the Ontario Canada Ministry of Natural Resources said they keep a handle on population growth by making existing trappers meet a quota of Beaver kills. If the OMNR decides that a particular area is being overrun, a trapper will then be assigned and instructed to remove at least 70% of an assigned quota. Thanks to the likes of the "animals first" outfits, Beaver have become a problem even in urban areas. Where this is the case, Arnett says the OMNR will send in special trappers to remove and relocate the offending critters. This is another case of specialty groups causing enough noise and spreading enough misinformation to change what was once a valuable commodity into what is now a costly problem.

Now if you are an angler the Beaver should be concidered your friend. When they occasionally fell trees into the water it can create fish attracting structure (and NO Beavers DO NOT control WHERE a tree falls. If it lands in the water it's a fluke). As well, Beavers build dams and lodges that create current breaks and oxygenate water. They can raise the depth of a pond or lake to the extent where ice will no longer freeze to the bottom, and they form wetlands suitable for ducks, which supply feathers for fly tiers and meat for summer anglers/fall hunters.

Beaver Dam

So have you seen a Beaver lately? Their flat head and even flatter tail are a dead giveaway. Growing to a maximum size in Canada of about seventy pounds the Beaver is one gigantic rodent. They all may not be the same either. It is believed that Canada has between 13-24 sub-species of Beaver. Well, I saw a seventy pound Beaver in the wild once and I didn't ask him what his sub-species was, it took me by surprise and nearly scared my pants off. If you think that's big, imagine this; fossil hunters have recovered prehistoric Beaver skulls that were estimated to weigh in at about 700 pounds. Think of the bruiser that was attached to and thank your lucky stars they died out with the other big guys. Can you imagine the dams those old boys could have built?

Happy Hooking! ~ Kevin Fancy

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