|Guy feeding beavers before they are relocated|
By Guy Thyer, one of our three college interns
(To learn more about the Methow Beaver Project, click here)
The inexperienced beaver feeder might mistake their task to be a simple matter of putting food in the bowl. While we understand the importance of daily sustenance in these beaver’s lives, we’ve found the feeding process to be an immersion into deep trenches of mammalian harmony. More than simple nutrition, feeding the beavers is about fabricating stories of love, drama, and the eventual triumph of the Good and then playing them out to full fruition!
It’s a Monday afternoon. Jamie jumps out of the passenger side to unhook the fenced-gate and we pull into the Winthrop Fish Hatchery. We are quick to shelter ourselves from the shameless beaver courting; we interns of course, are much too young to see such voluptuous behavior. While millions of Americans eagerly await Episode four of the Bachelorette, where the men battle it out in the Bachelorette’s Mr. America contest, a much more subtle and arranged lover’s game is happening all the while down at the Winthrop Fish Hatchery.
Less the Bachelorette’s abs and interviews, sprinkle a touch more real-life drama, and you’ve got the Beaver Relocation project. Beavers are captured from at-risk locations and brought to their temporary home in Winthrop. The beaver-crew plays ultimate match maker; before the beavers can make the move to their new homes upriver they must find a partner. These naive lovers are tossed into pools and the mix-and-match is on. A quick date to the waterway-waterfall, a romantic cruise around the house, a wood-chewing project, or perhaps an afternoon of snuggling and whispering sweet nothings. No matter the activity, the waterways are lively, full of discovery and also occasional divergence. Feeding the beavers can be bittersweet, we interns are bludgeoned with redirected beaver stress from crushes, heartbreak, jealousy, and even foul rumors. We got tail-smashed (an epic and radical water-slap move) trying to photograph a beaver for this post. The social-spectacle of these raceways often approaches middle school dance levels.
|Mama beaver and two youngsters|
Arranged marriage within such a small population of beavers forces these water-wizards to look deep inside one another’s soul in search of redeeming qualities. Two dens are provided for each pair, so when it’s not all kittens-n-roses for the unfettered romantics, each has their own home. Unlike the bachelorette, these beavers hardly get a say in their new partnership. A testament to their starry-eyed spirit, grandmothers and spry teenagers, princesses and slobs, introverts and social butterflies find ways to fuse together into dynamic pairings. Sleep and play patterns are observed, all to ensure that each beaver has a fighting chance at the wonders and endless fruits of proper matrimony.
|Getting released into a high mountain pond|
Guy Thyer's Bio:
I am originally a Seattle-lad but I am going to be a sophomore at Pomona College in California this fall. I am an Environmental Analysis and Philosophy double major. I am interested in education policy and ways of incorporating experiential/outdoor education into our education systems. I came to the Conservancy because the projects we are working on seemed really interesting and worthwhile. The tasks we work on are a great mix of environmental and community work. The people at the Conservancy, and in the Methow Valley in general, have been extremely impressive and have really inspired me to continue pursuing this sort of work!