Residents push for beaver to remain undisturbed at Mary S. Young Park

by: TIDINGS PHOTO: PATRICK MALEE - The beaver has built a number of dams around a pond in Mary S. Young Park, though he is rarely seen in daylight. It’s easy to miss, and perhaps that was his intention.

Park at the gravel lot in Mary S. Young Park, walk straight past the bathroom and back toward Highway 43, and it’s right there if you look closely enough: a pond with a series of beaver dams in various stages of completion, built from trees that lay chipped through just a few feet away.

It is in this quiet corner of the park that the beaver has taken residence for somewhere between nine months and a year, according to Parks and Recreation Director Ken Worcester.

“He was kind of discovered by one of our regular volunteers down here,” Worcester said, “who then asked if we could leave it alone.”

That volunteer, Don Kingsborough, as well as other park regulars such as Linda Goodman, worried that the city would see the damage caused to trees and decided to forcefully remove the beaver. One tree was so thoroughly chewed through that the city had to cut it down; another neighboring tree may not be far from a similar fate.

“I understand what the city is worried about,” Goodman said as she looked over the beaver’s home. “That was his first tree and they had to cut it down because it was, of course, dead. And now he’s started on that one.”

by: TIDINGS PHOTO: PATRICK MALEE - After the beaver chewed through much of its trunk, this tree was cut down by the city. Still, the parks department plans to allow the beaver to stay for now.

And yet, Worcester said the city looks at the beaver’s presence as a net positive — a chance for residents to learn about an elusive creature while the city reaps some unexpected benefits.

“The good thing is that they like the trees that we don’t,” Worcester said. “One of their favorites is cottonwoods, and for us, while they’re in a nice spot, in parks they get big fast, they shed heavy branches, they’re messy.”

If the beaver moves on to more “desirable” trees, Worcester said the parks department will likely wrap the trees with protective wire to keep them from being chewed on.

“But that’s what they do,” Worcester said. “If we leave him there, we have to provide for him.”

The beaver has proven to be shy, and even Goodman — who walks in the park every day — has yet to actually see him in the flesh.

“There are people who come by at about 7 p.m. to see if they can see the beaver, and they have,” Goodman said. “We came last night to see if we could see it, but he didn’t show his face.”

Goodman, for her part, never knew much about beavers before discovering the pond, but found herself fascinated by the handiwork.

“They’re just really hard-working little guys,” Goodman said. “That saying ‘busy as a beaver’ really is true.”

Goodman hopes that local teachers might learn about the beaver’s presence and bring young students out to see the dams — and perhaps even the beaver himself if they are lucky.

“(They could bring) young students who probably have never seen a beaver pond,” Goodman said. “Who can see what a beaver can do to a tree. And he’s done quite a bit in the back, I think he’s trying to build a house back there. We wonder if he’s trying to find a Mrs.”

Worcester agreed that it was a prime opportunity to experience a different side of nature at the park.

“It’s really easily accessible,” Worcester said. “So you can see what they do, and at the same time not really bother them too much.”

By Patrick Malee
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