Nature Notes

Vol. II August 27, 1924 No. 10

By Park Ranger Charles Landes

There are evidences in several places in the park of beaver in dams of quite recent construction and in many old dams. Two distinct and good-sized colonies have left well-constructed dams on Tahoma Creek along the trail to Lake George. The entrance to this trail is from the Nisqually road one mile from the entrance gate within the Park at Tahoma Creek.

The first of these dams is two miles up the trail from the road the trail crossing the pond on a foot bridge. The second series of dams is on Fish Creek one mile above the first and yet just above the bridge across Fish Creek. In both instances a series of dams have been made across small creeks and it is probable that beaver are still inhabiting the Fish creek ponds as cuttings were found there so recent that the leaves were still green on the cut limbs.

Both dams show quite recent work. Many trees have been cut down some of them up to fourteen inches in diameter. Many of them cut into loengths of from 6 to 12 feet and parts of them dragged into the ponds. The cut surfaces are very fresh and the tooth marks on trunks from which the bark was removed very distinct. One dam on Fish creek is over one hundred feet, long laid out with a graceful curve upstream built of short sticks and well plastered with mud. It is much out of repair at present and the stream has broken through it and emptied the once large pond.

Beavers lead the mammals of the world in mechanical and engineering skill and also in habitats of industry. These dams are fine examples of this skill and are easily accessible. Beavers themselves are rarely seen by day as they work by night and sleep during the day. The dams of mud grass and sticks are some of them placed against larger logs they have either found across or partly across the streams or they have fallen the trees themselves.

The ponds thus created offer protected or hiding places from their enemites close by the wood upon which it feeds. These dams are built for the beaver's own preservation and comfort.

In most localities inhabited by beavers the banks of the stream are so low that the animals cannot burrow into them and consequently they build houses for themselves. These houses are piled of sticks plastered with mud within which they live. There is an absence of these houses in the ponds described above due to the fact that the beaver found a better home by burrowing underneath the banks lining the ponds.

The pioneer settlers of Longmire found a large dam across the course of the stream creating a large pond in the region of the springs. This in part would account for the opening in the woods. The old dam across the course of the stream can still be traced across the meadow about midway between Iron Mike spring and the Soda Spring.

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