Guest Commentary: Those Dam Street Beavers

Share:

By Jennifer Ann Gordon

When I first moved to Davis, I wondered who or what was creating the ubiquitous mounds of vegetation in the gutters. I reasoned that it couldn’t be the residents, for who would want to have an unsightly pile of debris in front of their beautiful and well-maintained home?

Finally, I deduced that these mysterious piles were the handiwork, the chef d’oeuvre, of some invasive species well-adapted to a town environment. Further deduction led me to dismiss the theory that the ghastly mounds of vegetation were the result of humans (especially Davisites), because Davis citizens are enthusiastic proponents of bicycling, as well as being painfully aware of the parking shortage — and the piles consistently blocked both parking spaces and bicycle lanes.

Then I discovered that, above and beyond Davis’ healthy squirrel population, there existed a robust colony of Via castor canadensis, or better known as street beavers. Very little is known about street beavers other than they are shy creatures and live in the dams they build on the street. Judging by the number of their dams throughout Davis, they reproduce quickly.

As are all species of beavers, Via castor canadensis are industrious and build their dams quickly and expertly. In talking with a UC Davis scientist who wished to remain anonymous, but goes by the Twitter handle @StreetBeavers, we learned that the females usually have a litter of two to three kits and are attentive mothers.

Large in size, Via castor canadensis weigh up to 40 kilos; they have the charming beavery buck teeth designed to fell trees and cut branches, a magnificent tale for balance and self-propulsion, and strong webbed feet that allow them to easily motor around underneath the town in the street drains during the rainy weather, and walk over rocky terrain painlessly.

Street beavers also are extremely resourceful and use the materials at hand to build their dams, e.g., pines during the Christmas holidays, pumpkins during the fall, and other vegetation readily available to them. Often, they construct a firm base of branches, covered with thick layers of dead leaves as insulation.

Davisites are a peaceful people and have lived in harmony, mostly, with Via castor canadensis for decades. But the street beaver population has exploded to the point where the safety of bicyclists and the convenience of parking are greatly impaired.

Some believe the best solution to the street beaver dam problem is to make the materials inaccessible — or eliminate them altogether — so that the street beavers move on to more native and greener pastures. This would require the city of Davis to create a citywide initiative and system to eliminate their green waste.

Getting rid of the street beavers and their abodes will take time, and the entire town will need to make a concerted effort. But wouldn’t safe bicycling and more parking spaces be worth it? And our neighborhoods would be more beautiful without ugly dams littering the streets.

— Jennifer Ann Gordon is a Davis resident.  This is a reprint from an op-ed from five or six years ago.


Enter the maximum amount you want to pay each month
$USD
Sign up for

Share:

About The Author

Disclaimer: the views expressed by guest writers are strictly those of the author and may not reflect the views of the Vanguard, its editor, or its editorial board.

Related posts

28 thoughts on “Guest Commentary: Those Dam Street Beavers”

  1. John Hobbs

    “Davisites are a peaceful people and have lived in harmony,”

    All evidence to the contrary.

    “Some believe the best solution to the street beaver dam problem is to make the materials inaccessible — or eliminate them altogether”

    ” This would require the city of Davis to create a citywide initiative and system to eliminate their green waste.”

    I don’t know how much real support there will be, but I can’t wait for the roll out of “Pave over Davis.”

    Heaven forbid Davis’ bicyclists and others be in anyway accountable for their own safety.

    1. Richard McCann

      Perhaps the preferable solution is to put the piles in the auto traffic lanes and leave the bike lanes clear and make drivers accountable for their own safety and unobstructed passage.  Seriously, I don’t understand why bike riders should be treated as having less rights than auto drivers.

  2. Alan Miller

    And I call BS on that photo!  A branch-o’-death does not naturally insert itself into a claw pile like a spear with the pointy end at the perfect height to puncture a passing child’s abdomen, causing them to bleed to death after being impaled like Rebecca De Mornay on a fence post at the end of The Hand That Rocks the Cradle.

  3. Alan Miller

    And I call BS on that photo!  A branch-o’-death does not naturally insert itself into a claw pile like a spear with the pointy end at the perfect height to puncture a passing child’s abdomen, causing them to bleed to death after being impaled like Rebecca De Mornay on a fence post at the end of The Hand That Rocks the Cradle.

  4. Don Shor

    The thing I noticed when I moved here was the vast number of bicycles, scattered every which way when people weren’t using them. I remember watching a blind person stumble over one on the way into the campus bookstore, and the young man behind her was so infuriated that he picked it up and flung it out of the way.

    They were everywhere. Blocking doorways, falling over on sidewalks, leaning haphazardly against the many, many bike parking structures that apparently were too complicated for the bike owners to use.

    Then, as a pedestrian staff person on campus, I encountered the teeming masses of bicyclists, staring fixedly ahead and ignoring my attempts to cross their lanes of traffic with the tools of my trade, until I either risked my life and dodged through them or found some workaround access route.

    Apparently it was expected that I would ride one of these insanely dangerous contraptions from class to class, but after one major accident and then the theft of my bicycle, I decided I preferred to have my feet on the ground and to travel at a more sedate pace. In spite of their obvious hazards to riders and pedestrians, these things have proliferated.

    Brush piles don’t whiz out of nowhere, run red lights and stop signs, and swear at you. They just lie there, inert.

    1. Richard McCann

      “Brush piles don’t whiz out of nowhere, run red lights and stop signs, and swear at you. They just lie there, inert.”

      As a runner here in Davis for over 20 years, I have had many, many more encounters of this type with cars than with bikes.

      1. John Hobbs

        “As a runner here in Davis for over 20 years, I have had many, many more encounters of this type with cars than with bikes”

        And how many of those encounters were because you weren’t paying attention?

        1. Richard McCann

          None. When I was in college I was almost hit stepping out in front of a car when I passed between two parked cars. I became extra vigilante about watching for these situations. I try to be sure the gain eye contact with drivers before I cross their path. But even then they make stupid decisions.  Rather than try to throw insults, just accept that the vehicle drivers are just as irresponsible, if not more, than bike riders, and they have the added lethality of a couple tons of moving metal.

          The other big risk is drivers opening doors on bike riders because they are too lazy to check behind them. I’ve had several friends injured by these types of accidents, and they are far worse than tripping over a misplaced bike.

    2. Alan Miller

      Apparently it was expected that I would ride one of these insanely dangerous contraptions

      An unfortunate part of living a life with transportation is that transportation has inherent risk.  Everyone seems to have their favorite mode, and some choose to whiz on the other modes.  Not helpful.

    3. John Hobbs

      “Brush piles don’t whiz out of nowhere, run red lights and stop signs, and swear at you. They just lie there, inert.”

      Yep. On one of our visits to Davis a few years ago, A thirty something guy with two kids,about 10 and 12 ran a stop sign in front of our car. The “adult” yelled out the popular “hey a******,” as the 10 year old girl delivered the detestable digit of derision. My wife observed “What a great place to raise kids, huh?”

    1. John Hobbs

      Toads, Sharla. Frogs have smooth, thin, wet skin, very long legs, slim body, jumps as opposed to walking or hopping, lay eggs in clusters and lives in the water. Toads have thick dry brown bumpy skin short legs, (hops or walks) stout body, lays eggs in a chain and lives on land.

      Toad Lives Matter!

        1. John Hobbs

          A long time ago,50 years maybe, I remember seeing yellow-legged frogs in Putah creek. Haven’t seen any there since. Back in the day, I used to have a spot there for fishing and chemically assisted meditation.

Leave a Reply

X Close

Newsletter Sign-Up

X Close

Monthly Subscriber Sign-Up

Enter the maximum amount you want to pay each month
$ USD
Sign up for