Friday, December 21, 2012

Past Deadline: Beavers Taking Over the World?

Here is “Past Deadline” from Dec. 13 in The Perth Courier.
Beavers taking over the world?
With the whole “end of the world” prophecy coming up on us in a week or so, I thought this might be a good time for some deep reflection.
I mean, I have been percolating along as if the world is not going to end. I have plans to do stuff after Dec. 21. I am proceeding with Christmas shopping. The tree and decorations are up. There is a grocery list for next week pinned to the fridge.
Nevertheless, I can’t help but think about something that was suggested to me recently and I wonder if it is more than just a coincidence given all this doomsday stuff:
Are beavers plotting to take over the world?
You may recall that a few weeks ago I was stumped for a column idea, so I posted a plea on Facebook. The beaver question was posted by my brother, and I think this is a fine time to explore it.
I mean, really. What is UP with beavers? They are SO busy!
Beavers have big, scary teeth that they use to cut down trees. These lumberjacks of the wild do so in order to have lumber to build dams, which creates a pond in which they build their lodges, store food piles underwater in winter, and use for protection from predators. They use some trees for food.
The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources website indicates beavers cut down an average of 216 trees per year – some of which are up to 40 centimetres in diameter.
Ask any property owner about those felled trees, and he or she will doubtless concur it is a lot of damage.
It’s not really the tree loss that might make one think this industrious mammal has a secret plan to take over the world – it’s the darned dams.
Beavers are prolific builders. Some say the sound of trickling water stimulates their urge to build, and we all know there is a lot of trickling water in this world.
Oh, indeed, these busy critters have demonstrated time and again their affinity for creating their own infrastructure and disrupting ours. Their dams flood properties and wash out roads. They create disruption and stress.
What IS their end game, anyway? I mean, once they obliterate the countryside and move into the cities, what is the point? Are they suddenly going to reveal themselves as ferocious carnivores that only ate foliage as a clever front?
Humans have fought back, for sure. Beavers have been eliminated from large parts of their original range thanks to trapping in the early 19th century. In fact, the quest for beaver pelts is credited for much of the early exploration of this continent. Arguably, if Europeans hadn’t had a love for beaver hats, the little rodent might have taken over this continent by now.
It is a humbling thought. What a watery world it might have been!
Aw, I’m just joshin’. I like beavers and I don’t think we are in imminent peril from them, although those teeth look kind of nasty and I know there was a story in this paper a few months back about a local guy bitten by a beaver.
Nevertheless, I have to say I am much more leery of insects. I think ants, ticks, fleas, lice and cockroaches are much more likely to take over the world. If they ever form an alliance I, for one, would most certainly be driven over the edge by their combined strength.
Thank you, brother Doug, for bringing this important concern to our attention. I am so glad to have this aired.
Next week: Are dust bunnies plotting to take over my house? (Okay, maybe not….)

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