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Sunday, December 13, 2009

Kinnelon Critter File: Beavers

Beaver at the Frank R. Lautenberg Visitor Center

Kinnelon Beavers


Were you aware that beavers are plentiful in Kinnelon? Particularly around our lakes and ponds.

We had our first live beaver encounter a few weeks ago traveling west on Fayson Lakes Road across the Kakeout Reservoir causeway.

It was 9:30 at night. I was driving and I noticed a large dark critter to my left. It was raccoon-like but larger. It was groundhog-like, too, but larger. Neither made sense given the water on both sides of the road. Furthermore, the critter was wet.

Then we noticed another large shape on the right side of the road, unfortunately dead, and realized that we had encountered our first live beaver, concerned about its mate. You see, beavers mate for life.

National Geographic has a fascinating site on beavers. It includes a 30 second audio clip on how beavers sound and a video [caution: the video forces you through an ad at the beginning and end]. Beavers are large rodents weighing approximately 60 pounds.

beaver activity at beaver dam pond in Kinnelon, NJThe Wikipedia entry on beavers includes a cross-section of beaver lodges and a terrific photo of a beaver tail. Check out the webbed feet, too.

We noticed our first sign of beaver activity on the Beaver Dam And Charlotteburg Road Hike. Not only a dam in the middle of the pond, but also plenty of trees chopped down by the critters as you can see from the photo above.

Lake Kinnelon has seen more beaver activity lately as has Hoot Owl Pond, and trees around both are now protected by mesh.

As plentiful as they may be in our midst, beavers are also elusive. I'm my dreams I can imagine hiking down to the Beaver Dam to catch a glimpse of them before dawn. Reality has me ensconced comfortably in bed instead.

Seeing this beaver was a treat. I now find myself slowing down along the Fayson Lakes causeway, not just to absorb the view, but also in case a beaver is swimming within view.

Do you have beaver stories to share?

PS: If you travel that route at night, I urge caution in case you encounter a beaver in the road.
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