After a two-year hiatus, beavers have returned to Haddonfield’s Crows Woods Nature Preserve.
Vinny and Sal Calla, students at Haddon Heights High School, spotted two beavers swimming near a drain pipe that runs under the PATCO light-rail line earlier this week.
"We were trying to get a closer look when one beaver started slapping its tail on the water,” Vinny said.
“Slapping the tail on the water is how they scare away predators,” Sal added.
Vinny and Sal were close enough to the beavers to capture excellent pictures of the furry duo.
For months, hikers, runners and visitors to Crows Woods have noticed dramatic changes to the shoreline along the Cooper River that runs through the preserve. Trees up to 12 inches in diameter were strategically cut to fall towards the river. Curved wooden shavings surrounded the base of each tree. The tell-tale signs of beaver activity were there, but until Tuesday morning, no one had seen an actual beaver.
Jon Batchelor walks his dog Lexy every morning in the woods. Batchelor said, "The beavers have blocked up the stream and took out a pedestrian bridge due to the high water table.” In November, two unidentified men made relief cuts on each side of the large dam which lowered the water table by four feet but the upper bridge is still under water.
Multiple dams along the river have caused the water level to rise and create ponds, a strategy beaver’s use to remain safe from predators. According to the Wilderness Classroom at the Boreal Forest Library, beavers make multiple dams to raise the water level. In deep water, beavers have a greater chance to escape danger. Beavers have short legs with webbed feet making it difficult to outrun predators on land. Water is a safer place for beavers to survive.
Beavers do not live in the dams but make a lodge with two separate rooms inside. One room is for drying off and the second is for day-to-day living. A thick underfur keeps beavers insulated and a thick layer of fat under their skin helps keep them warm. Beaver’s waterproof their exteriors by rubbing an oily substance on their fur that is secreted from scent glands.
Throughout the banks of the river, you can spot trees that are partially gnawed and branches that are cut into pieces easily maneuvered by the beavers. There are approximately five dams and one lodge between the train tracks and lower pedestrian bridge.
Other beaver trivia:
- Beavers select a mate for life
- Two beavers can cut down 400 trees per year.
- Beavers live in lodges, not dams.
- Beavers weigh between 44 and 60 pounds.
- Beavers are one of the largest rodents in North America.
- Beavers have a large, hairless tail that is used to steer, balance, warning signals and fat storage.
- Beavers teeth grow up to four feet per year. Gnawing trims teeth.
- Beavers mate in January/February so look for baby beavers to arrive in late April/May!
The Crows Woods Nature Preserve is home to many animals. In addition to beavers, sightings include red fox, deer, Great Horned Owls, an American Bald Eagle, snakes, squirrels, rabbits, hawks, and the woods namesakes, crows.