One morning a couple of weeks ago my wife gasped as she looked out our front window to Crystal Springs Creek. “What in the heck is wrong with that tree?” We strolled out to the creek and discovered that one of the three trunks of our young vine maple had disappeared. We examined the stump…and there were the telltale teeth marks of a beaver. We’d seen beaver sign at JohnsonCreek Park, but never experienced any activity in the yard. So we chalked it up to “one of those things.”
But two days later my wife looked out again and said through her teeth, “another one down” and flew down to the creek. Sure enough, more teeth marks…and another missing trunk. This time we decided to get serious. The recommendation in Russell Link’s essential book, Living with Wildlife in the Pacific Northwest was to wrap affected trees with hardware cloth. We did that, but maybe we weren’t serious enough, since another suggestion involved staking the hardware cloth to the ground. We skipped that step.
For two or three days all went well, but about a week after the first episode we looked outside to find that the beaver had struck again. How it got over or under or through the hardware cloth was unclear, but the third trunk was definitely gone; the beaver had finished its work. My wife was disappointed to lose the tree—actually she was pissed. But I kind of took the beaver’s side. Don’t get me wrong; I love vine maples in general and I loved this one in particular. But somehow the chance to experience the night-passage of a beaver—three times—right in the middle of Sellwood made it seem worthwhile. This time at least.