How 'holesome'

A hole located by a known beaver location south of Hull is also surrounded by tracks. 

REGIONAL—Recent flooding in N’West Iowa has paved the way for the castor canadensis — also known as the North American beaver — to become more visible.

Beavers have been spotted creating habitation in the ditch west of Agropur in Hull and have caused landowner Lyle Peelen of rural Sibley to express concerns to the Osceola County Board of Supervisors.

Osceola County supervisor chair Jayson Vande Hoef said the county will not take action on a matter taking place on private land.

“It does not seem appropriate to take on additional expenses,” Vande Hoef said.

He said the primary concern was that the beaver will have an impact on tile drainage.

Vande Hoef said if there is a possibility for counties to request extended beaver trapping seasons, then that would be something to consider — if the problem becomes bigger. The next beaver trapping season in the state is Nov. 2-April 5 and there is no limit, according to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

Meanwhile near Hull, city administrator Jim Collins said no landowners have complained about the beavers that have taken up residency.

“It is nice to see wildlife coexisting and proliferating with us,” Collins said. “I can remember a time when it was rare to see bald eagles, turkeys and beavers anywhere in Iowa. It is great to see their resurgence.”

Sioux County Conservation naturalist Sarah Davelaar said the beaver population has not changed in the last decade but the frequent flooding has allowed them to navigate flooded waterways to new areas that are more visible.

Found in aquatic habitats such as creeks, rivers, streams, ponds and lakes, beavers are largest rodent in North America.

Davelaar said beavers tend to build dams in small streams to create deep water areas. The dams can sometimes back up water into crop fields where it can cause problems with planting or harvesting crops. The dens that the beavers dig also can create destabilized areas which can be hazardous to heavy farm equipment if operated near the den. Davelaar said beavers also can damage crops by cutting down corn plants to use in creation of dams and as food.

“Beavers are considered protected forbearing animals and they can be legally trapped or hunted during the open season,” she said. “Outside of the open season, landowners should contact their local DNR conservation officer to obtain a permit to remove beavers that are causing economic damage.”

A fan of beavers, Davelaar said the animal is an incredible species.

“There are so many interesting facts on beavers it is hard to pinpoint exactly what the one thing is that makes beavers so cool,” she said.

Some facts about beavers that Davelaar enjoys sharing are:

  • When beavers move to a new area they tunnel into a pond or banks and break through to the surface. They pull sticks on top of the hole to build a lodge. Branches then are cut down and used to dam the stream so the water rises around the lodge and creates a protective moat.
  • They remove up to 45 percent of harmful nitrogen from streams and creeks.
  • Some adaptations that allow beavers to enjoy a semiaquatic life include nostrils that close tightly when they are swimming, transparent third eyelids that allow them to see underwater, muscles in their ears so they can be folded flat to prevent water from getting in and a thick, oily fur coat that keeps the water and the cold at bay.
  • Beaver dams help control the quantity and quality of water downstream. The beaver-engineered ponds and flooded areas create habitats for other species of plants and animals.
  • Beavers mate for life and live in colonies of five or six — one breeding pair and several kits — beaver babies — and one or two yearlings that move out at age 2.
  • Beavers are territorial so one family will not share a pond with another family.