‘Gnaw-tee’ is nice at the reservoir
On a casual drive through the Cottonwood Point campgrounds at Marion Reservoir, it’s not hard to see that there’s been plenty of activity going on along the shore, even though campers and anglers are scarce.
Tree trunks with missing bark, bare wood, and irregular crescent cutouts bear testament to the activity of one of the lake’s longtime residents — beavers.
“They’re part of the natural environment,” Corps of Engineers lake manager Kevin McCoy said. “They’re doing what beavers do. They do have a tendency to work along the shoreline. They really haven’t been impacting any of the trees off the shoreline.”
A shoreline tree at a campground near the Cottonwood Point nature trail appears ready to topple into the lake at any moment, its trunk gnawed through at least half way. As long as it doesn’t present a hazard to to the public, the beavers are free to take it all the way down, McCoy said.
“They’ll tip over anything they feel like,” he said. “It’s surprising what they can bring down to the ground. They’ll topple them into the lake to build their lodges. They also create fish habitat and homes for other creatures. As long as the trees aren’t creating a problem on another level, we leave them right there.”
Beaver activity isn’t isolated to Cottonwood Point. McCoy said signs of active beaver colonies can be found at Marion and Hillsboro Coves, French Creek Cove, and in numerous wildlife areas.
However, their lodges aren’t easily found.
“We know they have to be nearby,” McCoy said. “We know where their food caches are, but sometimes their lodges aren’t as obvious, not that we’ve been able to find.”
Those who want to try getting a look at beavers in action would stand their best chances in the hours around sunrise and sunset, McCoy said.
“They’re just really elusive,” he said. “They’re always out and about. We recommend the public give the wildlife a wide berth and stay clear.”
Should a beaver wander inland and begin damaging public facilities or creating a hazard, the Corps would work with Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks, and Tourism to take care of it, McCoy said.
“The Corp of Engineers is into natural resource management,” he said. “Although we do focus a lot of our effort on campgrounds, wildlife is also a part of it. It’s also a part the public comes to enjoy.
“Not everybody gets a chance to see a beaver.”
Last modified Dec. 20, 2017