Posts Tagged ‘Beaver’

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Inside An Adirondack Beaver Lodge in Winter

The lack of a deep covering of snow can be a benefit to some forms of wildlife, and a detriment to others. Yet for the beaver (Castor canadensis), a limited amount of snow on the ground has little impact on this rodent’s winter routine.

Throughout the autumn, when the water around its primary lodge remains open, the beaver scours the shore near and far in search of those select woody plants on which it relies for food. These items are severed at their base and floated to the area just outside the main entrance to the family’s winter shelter and then pushed underwater as deep as possible. » Continue Reading.


Friday, February 12, 2016

Cabin Fever Sunday: Living With Beavers

cabin fever sundays living with beversThe third installment of Cabin Fever Sundays lecture series on February 28th examines beaver populations in the Adirondacks, in history and today.

In “Living with Beavers” John Warren and Charlotte Demers will discuss the historic and contemporary implications of beaver trapping, their importance to the fur trade, contemporary issues with the damming of rivers, and more. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, December 9, 2014

How Beavers Survive Adirondack Winters

TOS_BeaverOne fall a young beaver, probably a two-year-old kicked out by its parents, built a small lodge in the old mill pond below our house. On cold January days when temperatures were below zero, I looked at the snow-covered lodge and wondered if the beaver was still alive. But when the ice melted in late March, it was swimming around again.

Mortality rates are higher among young, lone beavers than established adults. Winter is especially daunting: no sooner had the mill pond beaver taken up residence, than it had to prepare for months of cold and food scarcity. How did it survive? » Continue Reading.


Monday, June 9, 2014

Beavers And Trees: A Woodland Arms Race

Beaver_castoreumAround a beaver pond, we sometimes catch a whiff of beaver odor. People have described it to me as smoky, woody, or like tobacco. It may waft over from the lodge, or it might emanate from scent mounds – little piles of mud by the water’s edge. Beavers make scent mounds by dredging up mud from the bottom of a pond, then carrying it up on land in their front paws while walking upright. The beaver drops the mud, then squats over the mound and applies castoreum from glands near the base of the tail.

The smell means: keep away! In some neighborhoods, this territorial advertisement works remarkably well. I’ve been involved in studies where human-made scent mounds effectively deterred free-ranging beavers from settling in unoccupied beaver habitat. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Hulett’s Landing on Lake George: A Return to Foster Brook

pond aerial LGPC and DEC and State PoliceOn the morning of July 11, 2013 those living along Foster Brook which enters Lake George at Hulett’s Landing were surprised by the sudden raging water of a beaver dam breach. The upstream pond held back by the dam was estimated at about 9-acres and was all but entirely drained after the dam washed away.

The resulting flood downstream caused significant damage to parts of Foster Brook as well as some damage to homes and roads along the brook. One area severely impacted by the flooding waters was the offline sediment basin along Foster Brook near the Mountain Grove Church. The flash flood came down the mountain severely eroding streambanks and the rock vane built last year to address chronic erosion issues. » Continue Reading.


Monday, September 16, 2013

Wildlife Architecture: Building A Beaver Lodge

Beaver_lodgeAll mammals that employ the use of a shelter in winter instinctively attempt to find a place completely hidden from the view of humans for their home, except for one. When the time comes in late summer or early autumn for establishing a protective enclosure for the coming season of cold, ice and snow, only the beaver places its residence in a spot that can be readily noticed by a person passing through the area.

When hiking, canoeing, biking or driving past a stretch of quiet water, you can often see a sizeable, cone-shaped mound of sticks packed with mud jutting well above the water’s surface. This is the temporary, winter residence of a family of beaver which provides these flat-tailed creatures with shelter from the cold, and protection against their few natural enemies. » Continue Reading.


Monday, May 6, 2013

Some Beaver Dams I Have Known

BeaverDam WLate last week, I found myself gazing into the woods as we headed down the Northway, en route to the Crandall Library Folk Life Center for a pleasant evening of entertainment. It was partially a business trip, but after listening to Dan Berggren and friends sing, alternating with readings by Carol Gregson from her first book (Leaky Boots) and her new release (Wet Socks), it sure didn’t feel like business. A good time was had by all, as evidenced by a very appreciative crowd.

During the ride south from the Plattsburgh area, my partner, Jill, handled the driving, which allowed me to enjoy uninterrupted views of the scenery. Included were some roadside marshes with beaver dams and lodges, prompting a flood of memories tied to my history with beaver dams. » Continue Reading.


Monday, January 23, 2012

Wildlife: Inside A Beaver Lodge in Winter

The lack of a deep covering of snow this season has been a benefit to some forms of wildlife, and a detriment to others. Yet for the beaver (Castor canadensis), the limited amount of snow on the ground has had little impact on this rodent’s winter routine.

Throughout the autumn, when the water around its primary lodge remains open, the beaver scours the shore near and far in search of those select woody plants on which it relies for food. These items are severed at their base and floated to the area just outside the main entrance to the family’s winter shelter and then pushed underwater as deep as possible. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Wildlife Handiwork: Beaver Dams

As more frequent rain begins to replace the prolonged dry periods of early to mid summer, water levels in streams and rivers slowly start to rise from their early August lows. Yet, back country paddlers that are hoping to encounter fewer surface rocks and other obstacles that become present during times of low water are likely to be confronted with a new navigational hazard.

During the latter part of August, the awakening urge in the beaver to erect a series of dams, and to repair and heighten any stick and mud barrier that already exists in various waterways, can cause frustration to anyone hoping to encounter an unobstructed flow of water. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, June 16, 2011

Bushwhacking Cowboy Beaver Meadow

There are many places in the Adirondacks where one can get away from the crowds but few as remote as the Cowboy Beaver Meadow in the northwestern corner of the Pepperbox Wilderness.

The Cowboy Beaver Meadow is a series of beaver swales along the Alder Creek. Nearby one can find a lovely unnamed pond and several beaver created wetlands. But if you expect to find any crowds then think again; this is a rarely visited place. Other than the occasional bushwhacker or hunters during the fall this place probably rarely gets many visitors.

The Cowboy Beaver Meadow is an ideal place for those contemplating exploring the backcountry beyond the trails and trying their hand at bushwhacking. Bordered on the east and south by the Alder Creek, north by a dirt road south of Spring Pond and west by the Herkimer/Lewis county line this area allows for testing one’s navigation skills while providing enough natural/man-made landmarks to remain oriented on a map.

The origin of the name for these beaver meadows along the Alder Creek remains unknown. According to a posting on the Adkforum website, the beaver meadow was named after a mysterious cowboy who made his residence in the area around the time of the Civil War.

Gaining access to the Cowboy Beaver Meadow is a challenge. The easiest access is from the west out of Croghan via Prentice Road, a gravel road that eventually turns south and becomes the Main Haul Road. This is a fairly decent dirt road suitable for most cars but caution is required due to the occasional ATV traffic.

Although the Main Haul Road continues to the Soft Maple Reservoir, the Cowboy Beaver Meadow parking area lies at the end of Sand Pond Road located just south of the Sand Pond parking lot. Do not expect a sign or register here, although an old “Parking Area” sign nailed on a tree is present, it is now mostly obscured by new growth.

Historical topographic maps show the area once had a more significant human presence than it does today. An unimproved road once followed along the Alder Creek through the beaver meadow on its way from Long Pond to Crooked Lake. In addition, another road left the beaver meadow and headed up along Pepperbox Creek. A winding, low rock ridge resembling a beaver dam made of boulders that crosses the Alder Creek between beaver ponds is probably the remnants of this old road.

In addition to the rare human artifact there are numerous natural landmarks to investigate in this area, including the many beaver ponds along the Alder Creek, an unnamed pond and a hill with steep forested cliffs.

The unnamed pond provides an attractive place for camping while visiting the area. Several islands exist within the pond although they are merely muddy, slightly raised areas covered with semi-aquatic grasses, sedges and other vegetation. Beavers and hooded mergansers frequent this pond and its islands.

Many dead trees choke the shoreline of the pond. Along the west shore sits a large, stick nest located at the top of one of these snags near the shoreline. This nest may belong to either a great blue heron or possibly an osprey but remained unoccupied during the late summer.

An elevated area between the pond and the beaver swales along Alder Creek provides an opportunity to gain some perspective on the area. The forested cliffs provide a destination but do not expect much in the way of views. Although the hills to the east beyond the Alder Creek can be seen through the tree canopy these minimal views are merely a tease since a clear view of the Cowboy Beaver Meadow remains elusive. A better view may be available during the autumn months after most of the leaves have descended from the canopy.

The Cowboy Beaver Meadow is the main attraction of the area. This meadow is a series of beaver swales following along the Alder Creek as it meanders toward the Beaver River to the south.

The meadows range from wide and relatively dry open, shrubby areas to just a narrow corridor surrounding the creek. Most of the creek is slow moving with many pools along its length but at some points, the tannin-rich water flows swiftly over bare rock with frequent small waterfalls. Opportunities for crossing the stream and exploring to the east of the creek are plentiful in late summer.

For those wanting to experiment with bushwhacking in a seemingly remote area should consider the Cowboy Beaver Meadow area within the northwestern Pepperbox Wilderness. The area provides a beaver pond, a series of beaver swales along the Alder Creek and human artifacts from bygone days. So, saddle up and enjoy!

Photos: Beaver pond within Cowboy Beaver Meadow, unnamed pond and rocky portion of Alder Creek by Dan Crane.

Dan Crane blogs about his bushwhacking adventures at Bushwhacking Fool.


Thursday, April 14, 2011

Wildlife in Spring: Beavers on the Move

The period of high water in the Adirondacks from frequent spring rains and snow melt typically corresponds with the time when maturing beavers travel. As is the case with all forms of wildlife, when young begin to transition into adults, they experience a strong urge to vacate their parents’ territory and look for a suitable spot some distance away that they can claim as their own.

The natural tendency of maturing young to disperse well away from their parent’s territory allows for the healthy spread of genetic information among a particular species. If offspring were to remain nearby, there would eventually be an increased risk of inbreeding. Individuals produced from parents that come from the same blood line have a greater chance of displaying unwanted traits that would reduce their chances for survival. Because of this, nature promotes in maturing adults the desire to disperse far enough away from their natal home so as to prevent the likelihood of two closely related individuals encountering one another and interacting as breeding partners.

For the beaver, sexual maturity occurs just prior to the age of two, which is shortly before the adult female in the colony gives birth to her yearly litter of kits. It is these beavers that are most likely to venture far and wide during mid April in the Adirondacks.

Traveling well outside their parent’s territory is a real challenge for a young adult beaver in the Park. There is currently a relatively high population of these flat-tailed rodents within the Blue Line and vacant waterways that contain an adequate supply of food are difficult to find.

Upon encountering a stretch of water with an aggressive resident adult that refuses to allow an outside beaver to trespass, a wandering individual is occasionally forced to travel overland in its journey to find a suitable, unoccupied body of water. A beaver in search of a territory will also exit the safety of the water should it encounter an impassible obstacle, such as a dam, a waterfall, or a series of rapids in which the current is just too swift and the turbulence too severe to continue moving through the water.

The unusual tendency of a beaver to venture across land in mid-April may be noted by the occasional dead beaver alongside a stretch of highway that is a fair distance from any body of water. Noting the presence of roadkill may seem to be a gruesome way of assessing the habits of certain forms of wildlife, however, it can sometimes be useful in gaining insight into the lives of certain types of animals.

Along with the two year olds, older adult beavers occasionally abandon their home pond when the supply of edible vegetation along the shore, and a short distance inland, become exhausted. After the ice melts and the beavers can again gain access to the shoreline, they may realize that almost every shrub, sapling and tree that is of nutritional value to them has already been cut.

In such situations, the entire family relocates to another stretch of the same waterway where the vegetation is more favorable to them. However, when a family moves, it rarely travels over land; rather it typically remains on the same general drainage system.

The maturing forests in the Adirondacks have created shorelines that are very picturesque from a human perspective; however, such stands of timber are of very little value to the beaver. This gnawing rodent has a distinct preference for the bark of aspen and white birch which thrive in open, sunny locations. The forests that sprouted a century or more ago following the widespread logging operations that left much of the Adirondacks devoid of trees were ideal for the beaver. This is the main reason why the beaver experienced such a dramatic resurgence at the turn of the last century. As the process of forest succession replaces the pioneer trees with maples, beech and yellow birch, the abundance of trees useful to the beaver steadily dwindles.

The beaver is still able to exist in the Adirondacks, as this creature is capable of surviving on alder choked streams, along the shores of lakes, and on slow moving rivers. As with all forms of wildlife, finding food is always a challenge. So too is the chore of locating a territory that confronts the two year olds. Yet this year’s high water is making travel easier and allowing them to more easily move from one area to another here in the soggy Adirondacks.

John Warren wrote a shorty history of beaver in the Adirondacks for the Adirondack Almanack in 2009.

Anthony Hall wrote s short political history of the beaver in April, 2010.

Dan Crane wrote about beavers from the perspective of a bushwacker in January, 2011.

Photos: Above, a beaver from Lake George Mirror files; below, a fanciful 17th century European print picturing abundant beaver in the New World (courtesy private collection of John Warren).


Thursday, January 13, 2011

Beaver: Bushwhacker’s Boon or Bane?

Beaver are one of the very few mammals in the Adirondacks to transform their physical environment to meet their own needs (man being another more extreme example). These transforms can prove to be either a boon or a bane to a bushwhacker exploring the backcountry without the aid of a trail or path.

The most famous behavior of beavers is their propensity to build dams to pond water for protection from predators and to float wood, their chief source of sustenance. These dams offer the bushwhacker an unmatched resource for crossing wet area with a greatly reduced risk of soaked feet. These structures are so valuable that I have traveled a significant distance out of my way to cross one on more than a few occasions rather than ford across a bone-chilling cold, mucky stream.



After building a dam and flooding an adjacent area, beavers tend to clear most of the hardwood trees in the vicinity of their new home. Often this results in areas clear of most of the understory vegetation since beavers appear to prefer the succulent younger trees. Bushwhacking through these areas is often a welcome relief from fighting one’s way through thick coniferous vegetation.

Additional benefits from these beaver ponds results from the quest these large rodents participate in just to obtain a good meal. Often they journey far from the pond to find the exact type of trees they prefer and in the process they leave significant paths throughout the forest. Although these trails prove of little value within mature forests, they provide unmatched assistance to a backcountry explorer in blow down areas adjacent to beaver constructed water bodies. For such industrious animals the beaver finds the path of least resistance through even the most disorganized jumble of downed trees.

Another benefit these mammals provide to the bushwhacker is the channels of water they often produce at the point where they exit from their beaver ponds. These areas usually provide a narrow and deep canal of undisturbed water ideal for filtering. This is often a great benefit around water bodies with indistinct shorelines where finding a deep enough spot close to shore is virtually impossible.

Not all of the habits of the beaver produce conditions helpful to a backcountry adventurer. When these adverse conditions are encountered the backcountry explorer might very well conclude the beaver is more foe than friend.

The most dangerous of these buck-toothed mammal’s habits is its tendency to leave behind the remnants of the saplings it feasted upon. These Punji sticks are often covered in leaf sprouts and thus difficult to detect until one of these spikes has been embedded into an unprotected knee. And heaven forbid if one should slip and fall backwards in such an area. Now THAT would be a million to one shot, Doc!

Although the area around a recently formed beaver pond can be cleared of a significant amount of woody hardwood vegetation (making it easier to travel through), over time this can result in an area thick in conifers many years after the pond has been long abandoned. For anyone who has ever struggled through these young coniferous forests can attest to the painfully slow progress these areas afford. The scratches, scrapes and nearly poked out eyes hurt too!

Unfortunately beaver dams often result in flooding that is not represented on a bushwhacker’s map or personal GPS. This may require an explorer to make significant changes to their plans when they encounter a flooded area where once their favorite campsite was located.

Finally, one of the beaver’s most shocking habits is its mode of announcing its annoyance with one’s presence. This tail slapping on the surface of the water can be so loud and unsuspecting that it has startled me on more than a single condition even when I knew the beaver was near. Only an air horn could possibly be more disturbing or unsettling.

The beaver by the nature of its habits has shown itself to be both boon and bane to backcountry explorers regardless whether they are a hiker finding his/her favorite trail flooded, a backcountry enthusiast crossing a stream on a dam or a bushwhacker doing his/her best to avoid Punji sticks surrounding the shore of a beaver pond. So depending on your circumstances you may find yourself calling the beaver a friend or foe on your next jaunt into the Adirondack backcountry.

Photos: Beaver dam, beaver activity and beaver tail splash by Dan Crane.

Dan Crane blogs about his bushwhacking adventures at Bushwhacking Fool.


Tuesday, January 4, 2011

How Adirondack Wildlife Survive the Cold

While we sit inside on these increasingly colder winter days, have you ever wondered; how do the wild creatures of the Adirondacks survive? From the smallest insect to the largest mammal each is adapted to survive the cold in very interesting ways.

The black bear, an icon of the Adirondack forest does not truly hibernate, but instead slumbers through the cold winter in a torpid or dormant state within a warm den. The difference between true hibernation and a torpid state is, in a torpid state the animal can still be easily awoken. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, August 19, 2010

New Hunting, Fishing, Trapping Licenses on Sale

The 2010-2011 hunting, fishing, and trapping licenses and Deer Management Permits (DMPs) are now being sold by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).

New Regulations for 2010-2011

Hunters and trappers should be aware of several new regulations in effect for 2010-2011. Air guns may now be used for hunting small game. Pheasant hunting areas and seasons have been modified. The Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) containment area has been decommissioned, and hunters in that area are no longer required to have their deer checked for CWD. Several trapping regulation changes have been made, including elimination of the requirement of furbearer possession tags and pelt sealing for beaver. More details for each of these changes are available in the 2010-2011 Hunting and Trapping Regulations Guide.

Licenses and permits can be purchased at one of DEC’s 1,500 license sales outlets statewide. Sporting licenses can also be ordered by mail or by telephone and via the internet. Sporting licenses are valid beginning Oct. 1 – Sept. 30, 2011.

The Automated Licensing System (DECALS) is the State’s program for issuing sporting licenses and tracking license sales and revenues. For questions regarding license purchases, call the DECALS Call Center at (1-866-933-2257). Hours of operation for the Call Center are 7 a.m. – 7 p.m., Monday through Saturday from Aug. 16 – Oct. 16, 2010. Regular weekday hours of 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. will resume on Oct. 18, 2010.

License buyers should have the following items ready when applying: complete name and address information, customer ID number if you have it, proof of residency information (driver’s license number or non-driver’s ID number to qualify for a resident license), and, if purchasing by phone or internet, credit card and card expiration date. Hunting license purchases require individuals to provide proof of hunting education certification or a copy of a previous license, or this information must already be contained in their DECALS file.

Sales of all sporting licenses are deposited into the Conservation Fund (the fund’s Advisory Board meets today in Lowville) which is used for the management of New York’s fish and wildlife populations and for protection and management of wildlife habitat.

Deer Management Permits

DEC issues Deer Management Permits (DMPs), often called “doe tags,” to move the population closer toward objective levels in each Wildlife Management Unit. The target DMP allocation for 2010 varies by unit, but outside of the Adirondack Park and the Tug Hill Plateau, only WMUs 3A, 4L, 4U, 4Z and 5T will be closed for DMPs in 2010. Applicants are reminded that DMPs are only valid for antlerless deer in the WMU specified on the permit.

DMPs will be available at all license issuing outlets and by phone, internet or mail, from Aug.16, 2010 through close of business Oct. 1, 2010. DMPs are issued through a random selection process at the point of sale, and customers who are selected for DMPs will receive their permits immediately. Chances of selection in each WMU are available at License Issuing Agent locations, or you may call the DMP Hotline at 1-866-472-4332. Chances of getting a DMP remain the same throughout the application period, so hunters do not need to rush to apply for a DMP on the first day of sale.

If a significant number of DMPs are still available in a WMU after Oct. 1, leftover DMP sales will commence on Nov. 1 and will continue on a first-come/first-serve basis until the end of the hunting season or until all DMPs have been issued in the WMU. Additionally, bonus DMPs will be available in the bowhunting-only WMUs 3S, 4J, and 8C and in Suffolk County (WMU 1C).

Fish and Wildlife Supporters

DEC encourages all outdoor enthusiasts to consider purchasing a Habitat/Access Stamp and/or a Trail Supporter Patch. These stamps and patches help support the DEC’s efforts to conserve habitat and increase public access for fish and wildlife-related recreation and maintain non-motorized trails. Buying a $5 stamp or patch or donating directly to the Conservation Fund is a way to help conserve New York’s wildlife heritage and enhance outdoor recreation in New York State.

Venison Donation Program

Additionally, anyone – not just hunters and anglers – can help feed the hungry by contributing to the Venison Donation Program at all license issuing outlets. Individuals should inform the license sales agent that they want to make a donation of $1 or more to support the program.

Participate in Citizen Science to Benefit Wildlife Management

Each year, thousands of hunters, trappers, and anglers help DEC monitor wildlife populations by recording their wildlife observations while afield. To learn about how you can participate in the Cooperator Ruffed Grouse Hunting Log, Bowhunter Sighting Log, Winter Wild Turkey Flock Survey and other citizen science programs.


Thursday, August 19, 2010

American Mountain Men Return to the Adirondack Museum

The grounds of the Adirondack Museum at Blue Mountain Lake, New York will become a lively 19th century tent city with an encampment of American Mountain Men interpreting the fur trade and a variety of survival skills this
weekend, August 20 and 21, 2010.

The group will interpret the lives and times of traditional mountain men with colorful demonstrations and displays of shooting, tomahawk and knife throwing, furs, fire starting and cooking, clothing of both eastern and western mountain styles, period firearms, and more. This year’s encampment may include blacksmithing as well as a beaver skinning and fleshing demonstration.

All of the American Mountain Men activities and demonstrations are included in the price of regular Adirondack Museum admission. There is no charge for museum members. The museum is open daily from 10:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m.

Participants in the museum encampment are from the Brothers of the New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts segment of the national American Mountain Men organization. Participation in the encampment is by invitation only.

Mountain men are powerful symbols of America’s wild frontier. Legends about the mountain man continue to fascinate because many of the tales are true: the life of the mountain man was rough, and despite an amazing ability to survive in the wilderness, it brought him face to face with death on a regular basis.

The American Mountain Men group was founded in 1968. The association researches and studies the history, traditions, tools, and mode of living of the trappers, explorers, and traders known as the mountain men. Members continuously work for mastery of the primitive skills of both the original mountain men and Native Americans. The group prides itself on the accuracy and authenticity of its interpretation and shares the knowledge they have gained with all who are interested.


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