National Geographic : 1955 May
680 National Geographic Photographer J. Baylor Roberts Eager Beaver! A Lost Kit Takes Nourishment from a Louisiana Game Warden Frightened, the beaver cries out like a child. This pet won the hearts of conservationists at Camp Salmen. tears away bark and wood between the cuts. Soon the ground is littered with chips. The animal lumberjack usually cuts a small tree through from one side; a larger trunk may be circled or cut on two sides (page 674). When the trunk begins to creak, he rushes to safety. Despite popular notions, he cannot control the direction of a tree's fall, and sometimes the hapless creature is trapped by his own handiwork. When beaver young are two or three months old, the whole family usually goes up and down its stream on a junket which may last three or four weeks. If the aspen supply is giving out at home, Castor may find another spot more to his liking, and the group will start work on a new dam and lodge. Back at the old home place the dam, no longer repaired, will gradually give way. The pond will vanish, but on the acres it cov ered black silt will burst into a rich carpet of grass. In time the forest will creep in again to replace the aspen and willow on which the beavers fed. When spring comes, the new dam will con serve the rains that precede the dry season. Trout may prosper in the new pond and waterfowl breed in new nesting sites. Fur bearers such as muskrats, mink, and raccoons will flourish in an improved habitat. As spring wears into summer, the im pounded water will quench the thirst of stock and wildlife alike and give farmers who were once beaver foes a much needed supply for their irrigation ditches. Some ranchers, conservationists, road build ers, and others criticize this picture of the beaver's work as being too bright, for his presence still creates problems. Nearly all, however, agree that under proper control he can do far more good than harm. As Barney Borneman puts it, "The Arizona game department relocates many forms of wildlife, but beavers are the only ones that return work for our efforts."