How smart are beaver?

@pikabike said:
This recent book is on my long must-read list:

It is available on Audible and there was a monthly credit in my account! It is a joy so far. Thanks for the recommendation!

Well, now I’d better read that book soon! We have at least one beaver that works on the creek near us.

@pikabike said:
This recent book is on my long must-read list:
My wonderful wife ordered a copy for me today.

My beaver story. I paddled up a small creek and had to pass within an arms length of a beaver lodge. Of course I had to look and a beaver was looking right back. It didn’t look friendly at all.
Just after I passed, it hit the water with a loud splash.

Awwww, he was just paddling.

And my copy of the book is being ordered.

@string said:
My beaver story. I paddled up a small creek and had to pass within an arms length of a beaver lodge. Of course I had to look and a beaver was looking right back. It didn’t look friendly at all.
Just after I passed, it hit the water with a loud splash.
Nobody likes strangers peeking in their windows

Most windows aren’t eye level from a kayak. I wasn’t intentionally a peeping Tom.

Beaver dams and bureaucracy.


                                    Reply to:
                                    GRAND RAPIDS DISTRICT OFFICE
                                    STATE OFFICE BUILDING 6TH FLOOR
                                    350 OTTAWA NW
                                    GRAND RAPIDS MI 49503-2341 

INTERNET: http://www.deq.state.mi us

                        December 17, 1997 


Mr. Ryan DeVries
2088 Dagget
Pierson, MI 49339

Dear Mr. DeVries:

SUBJECT: DEQ File No. 97-59-0023-1 T11N, R10W, Sec. 20, Montcalm Count-,),

It has come to the attention of the Department of Environmental Quality that there has been recent
unauthorized activity on the above referenced parcel of property. You have been certified as the legal landowner and/or contractor who did the following unauthorized activity: Construction and maintenance of two wood debris dams across the outlet stream of Spring Pond.

A permit must be issued prior to the start of this type of activity. A review of the Department’s files show that no permits have been issued. Therefore, the Department has determined that this activity is in violation of Part 301,. Inland Lakes and Streams, of the Natural Resource and Environmental Protection Act, Act 451 of the Public Acts of 1994, being sections 324.30101 to 324.30113 of the Michigan Compiled Laws annotated.

The Department has been informed that one or both of the dams partially, failed during a recent rain event, causing debris dams and flooding at downstream locations. We find that dams of this nature are inherently hazardous and cannot be permitted. The Department therefore orders you to cease and desist all unauthorized activities at this location, and to restore the stream to a free-flow condition by removing all wood and brush forming the dams from the strewn channel. All restoration work shall be completed no later than January 31, 1998. Please notify this office when the restoration has been completed so that a follow-up site inspection may be scheduled by our staff.

Failure to comply with this request, or any further unauthorized activity on the site, may result in this case being referred for elevated enforcement action.

We anticipate and would appreciate your full cooperation in this matter. Please feel free to contact me at this office if you have any questions.


                David L. Price
                District Representative
                Land and Water Management Division

cc: LWMD, Lansing

Pierson Township
Lieutenant Mary C. Sherzer, DNR LED

Stephen and Rosalind Tvedten
2530 Hayes Street
Marne, MI 49435-9751
616-677-1262 Fax

David L. Price
District Representative
Land and Water Management Division
Grand Rapids District Office
State Office Bldg., 6th Floor
350 Ottawa, N.W.
Grand Rapids, MI 49503-2341

Dear Mr. Price:

Re: DEQ File No. 97-59-0023; T11N, R10W, Sec 20; Montcalm County

Your certified letter dated 12/17/97 has been handed to me to respond to. You sent out a great deal of carbon copies to a lot of people, but you neglected to include their addresses. You will, therefore, have to send them a copy of my response.

First of all, Mr. Ryan DeVries is not the legal landowner and/or contractor at 2088 Dagget, Pierson, Michigan - I am the legal owner and a couple of beavers are in the (State unauthorized) process of constructing and maintaining two wood “debris” dams across the outlet stream of my Spring Pond. While I did not pay for, nor authorize their dam project, I think they would be highly offended you call their skillful use of natural building materials “debris”. I would like to challenge you to attempt to emulate their dam project any dam time and/or any dam place you choose. I believe I can safely state there is no dam way you could ever match their dam skills, their dam resourcefulness, their dam ingenuity, their dam persistence, their dam determination and/or their dam work ethic.

As to your dam request the beavers first must fill out a dam permit prior to the start of this type of dam activity, my first dam question to you is: are you trying to discriminate against my Spring Pond Beavers or do you require all dam beavers throughout this State to conform to said dam request? If you are not discriminating against these particular beavers, please send me completed copies of all those other applicable beaver dam permits. Perhaps we will see if there really is a dam violation of Part 301, Inland Lakes and Streams, of the Natural Resource and Environmental Protection Act, Act 451 of the Public Acts of 1994, being sections 324.30101 to 324.30113 of the Michigan Compiled Laws annotated. My first concern is - aren’t the dam beavers entitled to dam legal representation? The Spring Pond Beavers are financially destitute and are unable to pay for said dam representation - so the State will have to provide them with a dam lawyer.

The Department’s dam concern that either one or both of the dams failed during a recent rain event causing dam flooding is proof we should leave the dam Spring Pond Beavers alone rather than harassing them and calling their dam names. If you want the dam stream “restored” to a dam free-flow condition - contact the dam beavers - but if you are going to arrest them (they obviously did not pay any dam attention to your dam letter – being unable to read English) - be sure you read them their dam Miranda first. As for me, I am not going to cause more dam flooding or dam debris jams by interfering with these dam builders. If you want to hurt these dam beavers - be aware I am sending a copy of your dam letter and this response to PETA. If your dam Department seriously finds all dams of this nature inherently hazardous and truly will not permit their existence in this dam State - I seriously hope you are not selectively enforcing this dam policy - or once again both I and the Spring Pond Beavers will scream prejudice!

In my humble opinion, the Spring Pond Beavers have a right to build their dam unauthorized dams as long as the sky is blue, the grass is green and water flows downstream. They have more dam right than I to live and enjoy Spring Pond. So, as far as I and the beavers are concerned, this dam case can be referred for more dam elevated enforcement action now. Why wait until 1/31/98? The Spring Pond Beavers may be under the dam ice then, and there will be no dam way for you or your dam staff to contact/harass them then.

In conclusion, I would like to bring to your attention a real environmental quality (health) problem; bears are actually defecating in our woods. I definitely believe you should be persecuting the defecating bears and leave the dam beavers alone. If you are going to investigate the beaver dam, watch your step! (The bears are not careful where they dump!)

Being unable to comply with your dam request, and being unable to contact you on your dam answering machine, I am sending this response to your dam office.


Stephen L.Tvedten

xc: PETA

Well TreeA10 as a Michigan taxpayer that sure seems like a dam stupid way of spending my hard earned money. :wink:

Yesterday I took the pic below of another tree felled almost perfectly perpendicular to the river current. Even the tree with the S-shaped nibble marks ended up dropping right on target…in the water and perpendicular to the current. Both trees are on a long narrow island (maybe 300 yards long and 2 yards wide) that runs parallel to a local park. There is a lodge at the downstream end of the island. The tree with the S-shaped nibbling is only about 10 yards upstream of the lodge so I was wondering why the beaver would drop the tree in the pic below which is at least 100 yards upstream of their lodge but after reading the first couple chapters of Eager it seems that beaver are pretty darn ambitious and may be working (successfully) to alter the flow of the whole river!

@string said:
We’ve been married 49 years and I don’t have an old body. B)
At least one or two days a week.
We aren’t old either at 50 years come Nov!

Congrats! I don’t know why people say that. We both made a promise and kept it.

Well pikabike I finished the book you mentioned and it made my paddle today more enjoyable. I’m not even sure where to start. About 5 miles upstream on a small local river there is a spot where it opens up to a massive secluded wetland. When I first discovered it recently and went in to explore my boat dragged across a submerged wall and today I explored the wall and it’s almost surely a dam since it’s continuous and maybe 100 yards/meters long. The wetland is big and just full of birds. I think it’s a cormorant in the one pic. I found several other spots where beaver have dammed a strategic spot to create wetlands or were nibbling around the entrance to a massive wet area to capitalize on a natural opportunity. There are many spots on the river where you can get disoriented because it’s not clear where the main channel is and apparently that’s the way it used to be before people starting interfering with nature. Incredible. So now I think I can answer my own question. How smart are beaver? Maybe smarter than us.

Very cool, Tom. So is the river currently high right now, causing the dam to be temporarily submerged? Love the swans!

I looked at that beaver pond up in the BWCAW that I told you about on google maps the other day. After a decade it is still there and looks pretty much as I remember it. Based on the map scale the dam is about 75 yards long as I’d guessed. You can even pick out a couple of lodges.

Yep, we had a good hard rain about a week ago and the river popped up 12-18 inches. The USGS data doesn’t look too dramatic but you can see that the water is still well above “normal” so that underwater dam would almost surely not be fully submerged in normal summer low water levels which we haven’t seen in the past two years.

Pretty amazing that the pond/dam you photographed in the BWCA is the same after a decade…that sure seems like a good thing.

The swans slowly moved away from me when they saw me. In the past in more populated areas I’m used to them coming straight at me. I also saw what I’m guessing are white cranes in the wetland again and they are super cautious and will not let me get close.

Cheers Rob,


Now you have beavers AND lots of birds, thanks to the “dam beavers.” Very cool, indeed.

I’m glad people are reading that book!

Slappin’ tails,
often fails,
to impress a future wife.
For some there’s charm,
in this alarm,
that brings them mate for life,

So much hodge-podge,
when building lodge,
it gnaws at stickin’ round.
A beaver’s smart?
A board game art,
its checkmate to confound.

Did the beavers build their home 1 ft above the100 year flood elevation or was it flooded out?

Good one, CWDH, especially the last line.

The birds are on the move again. First day of autumn arrives tomorrow.

Though I saw no signs of beaver on my paddle, several enormous flocks of geese had stopped by, and they were skittish about my presence, unlike the usual gaggle. The mallards also acted flighty.

Two “peeps,” which always elude my identification of them, skedaddled along shore. They, too, seemed more antsy than in summer, when they would singlemindedly feed even with me sitting a few yards away.

A large coterie of coots swam nearby, though I only saw them briefly. Geez, they probably took off when they saw me. Hey, birds, was it something I said?

At least the great blue heron acted his or her normal self, wary but not jittery.

Overhead, five turkey vultures lazily circled with four big, white-bodied birds that had large white, black-edged wings—pelicans! I had not seen them in years. I hoped they would do their ungainly splash landing but they did not. They look like white garbage bags on the water, yet fly so gracefully, as if gravity will never let them down (so to speak).

Several vultures also hunched around the skeletal remains of…something. I could not tell what it was and didn’t want to get closer in case the vultures also spooked.

All in all, a nice day, albeit a bit windy.