The first time “beavers” came across my mind was during last year’s US History class. The European traders used to trade beaver furs. However, this time when I heard the word “beaver” again, it was more about how they destroy the environment.
The beaver is among the largest rodents including two species, North American beaver and Eurasian beaver. Beavers are known for building dams, canals, and lodges with their powerful teeth and jaws. They build dams to provide still, deep, water to protect against predators, and to float food and building material.
Beavers have been a major threat to the environment. They create massive log, branch, and mud structures to block streams and turn fields and forests into the large ponds as their homes. But at the same time, millions of trees are destroyed. Beavers also eat crops and aquatic plants. Beaver activity jeopardizes millions of dollars in transportation infrastructure and can also cause significant damage to timber resources. For example, Alabama alone estimates $19 million in lost timber annually due to beaver.
The beaver becomes a challenge when they interfere with man’s use of the land. However, beavers are not damaging the environment as most people think they are. Beavers’ ponds act as a reservoir to impound and store water, therefore reducing flooding events further down stream. The stored water is released slowly and provides for a moderate flow in dry periods that will keep the fish in the creek alive.
Before we think about the destructions beavers can cause, we should recognize that beaver ponds also play important roles in the ecosystem by creating habitat for many animals, birds and insects.
By the way, they are cute too!