Beavers

Canuck from Kansas

WFF Premium
"The Standard of Trade evolved as a means of exchange to ensure consistent pricing throughout Rupert’s Land. Before this practice took hold, each post set its own rate of exchange for trade goods. It was not uncommon for First Nations traders to shop around for the best deal, resulting in some posts being understocked while others were overstocked.

Hudson’s Bay Company used the Made Beaver as a unit of currency that could be traded at their posts for various European trade goods. Made Beaver referred to a prime beaver pelt that had already been worn for at least one season and from which most of the long outer hair had worn off. The greasy beaver wool was easily shaved from the skin by felters and turned into the finest felt for making hats.

The prices of all trade goods were set in values of Made Beaver (MB) with other animal pelts, such as squirrel, otter, and moose, quoted in their MB (made beaver) equivalents. For example, two otter pelts might equal one MB."


The history of the Hudson's Bay Company, founded on the beaver trade, and the role it play in the exploration and colonization of Canada and the northern US, is fascinating, yet troubled.

cheers
 

GAT

Dumbfounded
I've encounter beavers (the furry ones) quite often on coastal streams.

Many times I would be in the middle of a stream, usually fishing for steelhead, when a beaver would swim directly for me. Problem is, they have very poor eyesight.

I remember I once, very carefully, slowly made my way to a run in a river making every attempt to be as stealthy as possible to keep from scaring any steelhead in the run. It took me quite some time to get in place to make a cast. Just about the time I waded to the spot to start casting I noticed a beaver swimming downstream toward my location. Because I knew beavers flip out when they suddenly see a human, I waved my rod in an attempt to gain the attention of the beaver before he was close and do his tail slapping thing.

It didn't work. He was about six feet from me when sure as hell, he flipped out slapping his tail and making a hell of a commotion. So much so, I figured he scared any fish for a quarter mile of the encounter so I waded back out of the river and never made a cast.

Another time, I was fishing with a couple guys in a local slough for bass. For some odd reason, one of our group was constantly harassed by a beaver. It's like he kept following him around the slough and do the flip out routine a few feet from my buddy over and over again. Really funny but obviously making any fishing attempts quite difficult.
 

Gary Thompson

dirty dog
When I lived on Chiliwist ck in Okanogan, Co.
Late one winter/early spring it started raining, and the snow started melting and it kept raining. On the third evening of rain I heard what sounded like a freight train running behind the cabin.
I went out with a flash light to check the creek.
It was running about four ft. over the neighbors culvert, washing it down stream.
The next morning I drove up the road to where there were some big beaver dams, like 5 acre lakes.
The beavers had been trying to add mud to the top of their dam when they had undermined the dam and it had washed out.
It only took the beavers three or four days to build the dam back up to the same level as before.
The fishing was great in any pools left over after the flood.
 

wetline dave

Active Member
As the Hudson Bay Company opened up northern and central Canada it was the
American Aster that opened up western Canada with the fur trade.

Astoria Oregon was named after him and was the western terminus of his operations.

If I remember correctly The Hudson Bay Company trappers were for the most part French Canadians and Asters were primarily Scots, Hence names like Mc Kensie and Fraser rivers.

The Hudson Bay Co. did not venture very far west of Hudson's Bay.

Dave
 

Squamishpoacher

Active Member
Fort Langley on the lower Fraser just east of Vancouver and Fort Victoria on Vancouver Island were both HBC operations. Actually there was over 30 HBC posts in BC. Alexander McKenzie, explored by canoe to the Arctic Ocean, along the river later would bear his name. He also was the first explorer to travel from east to west across the continent north of Mexico. He did this 12 years before Lewis and Clark. He and Simon Fraser were both in the employ of the North West Company, an HBC rival, when they made their explorations. The two companies merged in 1821. Simon Fraser's Letters and Journal compiled by William Kaye Lamb and McKenzie's journals of both his voyage to the Arctic and across Canada by land are good reads.

Peter Newman's trilogy on the HBC is a very complete, though rather arduous read: The Company of Adventures; Caesars of the Wilderness; and Merchant Princes.
 

Gene S

Active Member
Yes, they can be. Cool animals none the less.
SF

Thanks for the vid, shows what can happen when a beaver dam breaks in a populated confined space. Complaint was filed in April and the dam breaks in November? Must have been liability issues with the county, land owner or both. Four stored acres of water surging thru a dam opening is downright dangerous in this setting.

Besides being a fish barrier we took grade shots and determined that after ice-up there would be a high probability of flooding and property damage. Explained the situation to fish and game and were immediately issued a damage permit to take out the dam and the beavers.
 

GOTY

9x Puget Sound Steelhead Guide of the Year
Always been curious how beavers evolved to build dams, it's so incredibly unique. Did one beaver just wake up one morning, see water moving, and say "oh hell no you don't!"?

Last year I was hiking into a nice run that is an interesting trek to say the least. Beavers have been hard at work in part of the walk in for a few years now. Side channel/beaver pond was pretty high so the easiest route seemed to be walking right behind the dam to cross it. I followed my buddy through and naturally he was kicking up mud so I couldn't see my feet. Next thing I knew, the dam/ground below my right leg gave out and I was buried up to my hip. The water in the beaver pond started getting sucked through the hole I made and it was super hard to get my leg free. Thankfully my buddy was there to pull me up and save my ass, otherwise I'm not sure how I would have pulled myself up with my leg stuck, no hand holds, and all that water pressure. Probably would have had to wait until the pond level lowered, and at some point I'd probably have to fend off the angry beavers with my spey rod.

Later in the season I noticed there was fencing/marking around the dams, and then a few weeks after it appeared someone had destroyed them all together. Still not sure why, but will be interesting to see the spot again this winter.
 

Old Man

A very Old Man
On Sweetwater Creek in Montana, in the head waters there were quite a few beaver ponds. The only way to get to them was on a ATV. I used to go up and watch the fish swim around. The last time I was up in there somebody had destroyed most of the dams and the ponds were dried up. It was a bummer. The fish didn't get very big up in there due to the short season.
 

Gyrfalcon21

Active Member
Posted this back a few years. I am on a big coastal river with a slough running along the front. The beaver and other creatures rely on the waterway to move in and out to the river, and for foraging, etc.. One year this really big guy/gal (60++ pounds guess) decided he liked a bunch of branches that had fallen and would come up and eat all day, then slide back into the slough at night. Had no fear of me. Was not injured or sick best I could see. He made a light hiss if I was extra close, but generally just kept on chowing.

That went on for months and I put signs up for the garbage man not to hit him.

The next year he was not back so I guess he was enjoying the latter part of life leisurely dining.
Or, he found another yard to hang out in...

Super cool creatures !

beaversloughssss.jpg
beaver2017777BBB.jpg
 

VMP

Active Member
A good friend of mine has done research on the role of beavers in wetland/estuarine habitats around Puget Sound, such as engineering pools for fish, including juvenile salmon, and the beaver's role in reclaiming habitat lost due to human activities. Some of his work, along with some cool photos, videos and podcast were featured recently in the always excellent Hakai magazine:
https://www.hakaimagazine.com/features/the-gnawing-question-of-saltwater-beavers/

Problematic at times...
Yes, you could say that, or problematic all of the time as in the case of beavers in Southern Argentina and Chile. Less than two dozen beavers from Canada were introduced during the mid-1940s to Tierra del Fuego hoping to foster a fur trade industry. With no natural predators and a decrease in demand for natural furs the population of beavers exploded, they swam to the mainland in Argentina and Chile and are still breaking havoc to fragile sub-Antarctic native forests not adapted to flooding. Both national governments have declared "war" on the invasive beavers, with plans to remove 100,000 just in Tierra del Fuego some years ago, but the results and feasibility of control/eradication are still unclear. More info below:
https://www.environmentandsociety.o...tion-and-settler-colonialism-tierra-del-fuego

The flip-side of invasive beavers from the northern tip of the Americas to the southern tip of the Americas are invasive nutrias from South America to North Americas. Not closely related to beavers (although their scientific name is Myocastor coypus; meaning "Mouse-beaver"). Also introduced for the fur trade around the 1930s, apparently some escaped farms during hurricanes, others were released when the fur trade tanked and the nutria populations exploded also creating havoc to natural habitat, millions of dollars of losses to crops, etc. Control and erradication down in the southern US has proven very costly and results unclear.

Check out Beaver Believers, a short film that was featured in the Banff film festival, and produced by Walla Walla's own Sarah Koenigsberg.

There is also a great film (aptly named: "Rodents of unusual size") about the many impacts of invasive nutria in southern USA and the complex relationship with the people of Lousiana, it shows in PBS every so often or can be streamed on the many streaming services, trailer below:
 
Last edited:

Support WFF | Remove the Ads

Support WFF by upgrading your account. Site supporters benefits include no ads and access to some additional features, few now, more in the works. Info

Latest posts

Top