The beavers won.

Discussion in 'Gardening & Plant Propagation' started by MelissaW, Dec 11, 2003.

  1. MelissaW

    MelissaW Well-Known Member

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    Well, they won. Those darned beavers took down every last one of our beautiful old apple trees. The orchard was planted long before we came, probably 30 or 40 years ago, next to a pretty stream that feeds the pond on our property. Unfortunately, the little critters found it the perfect place to fell the trees, and float them down the stream, and across the pond to their dam. Now we are faced with starting over. I don't know what kind of apples they were. They were small, green and red, crisp, and sweet/tart. I would like to place the new trees closer to the house. We are in zone 5, and have clay soil that we enrich with lots of aged manure. I prefer not to use chemical sprays. Can anyone suggest a good source for reasonably priced trees? I would like apples with an old fashioned flavor, that aren't too disease prone. They don't have to be big or pretty. Any suggestions on variety? Would standard or dwarf be better? I'm sure the old ones were standard. We kept them pruned (a skill which I am only now getting good at after 10 years of practice!). Right now, I only get the regular seed catalogs with a couple of trees offered. There must be some company that specializes in fruit trees. Any advice would be much appreciated!
     
  2. Melissa,
    I'm terribly sorry to hear of your misfortune. My father and I did some beaver control work when I was a kid, so if you're still interested in getting rid of them maybe I can give you some pointers. They can be live-trapped and relocated if that appeals to you, but that is very costly and time-consuming. Dams can be torn down, but the beavers will not leave, they'll just rebuild. The best luck we have had has involved trapping and shooting them after breaking large holes in their dams. The beavers very quickly realize that the water level is dropping and come to fix the breaks. Pulling a 2ft x 2ft hole out of a dam may sound easy, but it really is quite difficult-- they're skillful builders. Depending on where they settle, they can do a lot of damage to trees, cropland, roads, etc. VERY quickly. Your county extension agent should also be able to put you in touch with a trapper or control specialist. They can also sometimes have the dams dynamited or otherwise demolished for you, but that is almost always futile unless the beavers have themselves been removed first. You might also be able to fence your orchard and get a big dog to guard it. Beavers don't have many natural predators, but they're no dummies when it comes to big, toothy carnivores.

    Best of luck rebuilding,
    Darren in TN
     

  3. MelissaW

    MelissaW Well-Known Member

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    Thanks Darren!
    Unfortunately, the den is not on my property, it is on the neighbors. Our ponds are seperated by only a narrow piece of land. They have taken care of a beaver problem once before. Beaver season starts on Dec. 26 here, and I believe that they are making arrangements with a trapper. I will be putting the new orchard near the barnyard. We have 2 very large German Shepherds who have access to that area. The old orchard was quite far from the house. We have suffered terrible drainage problems since early last summer, but we didn't discover the little pests until last month. Your suggestions were wonderful! I'll be passing them along to the neighbor. It was disappointing to lose what may have been heritage trees, but at least we won't have to trek quite so far for apples any more! Thanks again!
     
  4. bumpus

    bumpus Well-Known Member

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    Kill the beavers or you will never have any fruit trees !
     
  5. Dixielee

    Dixielee Well-Known Member

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    My husband agrees. He said beavers make good eating! As far as the apple trees go, we have bought trees from seed companies that looked like bare root twigs. We are still waiting for them to produce and we planted them 4 years ago. We bought some much larger trees at Walmart and Lowe's and have been very happy with them. We bought some peach and plum trees at Lowe's last year that already had fruit on them. All the ones we bought that way are hearty, good looking trees. We just planted the first of those 2 years ago, so we are waiting on the fruit that should come this year or next. Both stores have money back guarentees and so far, we have been pleased with them. The trees we have gotten were all over 6 ft tall and ranged in price from $20-$30.
     
  6. Melissa,
    I'm glad I could be of help. If you are in my area (around Fayetteville, TN/Huntsville, AL) I would offer you and your neighbor my help or some loaner traps, but I kind of doubt that we're that close geographically just by chance. If your state's beaver season is short, or they come back in the off-season, you can get permits for the destruction of the animals out-of-season just as you can for deer that are doing crop-damage. At least, that's true in most states. I think the game warden is the guy to call, but if not your county extension agent will know. Your german shepherds should do a fine job of protecting your new orchard.

    Best of luck, and let me know if I can provide any further help!
    Darren in TN
     
  7. MelissaW

    MelissaW Well-Known Member

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    I am in north eastern Ohio. The man who owns the property where the den is does not believe in hunting of any kind. Believe me, my husband would gladly kill them with his bare hands at this point! If we were to catch them on our land, we could do whatever we want with them, but if the neighbor caught us hunting them at his place, it would mean war (he patrols his woods during deer shotgun season, and confronts any hunters that wander through!). To make it to the new orchard, a beaver would have to get past two fences, two German shepherds, a border collie, and a handful of hysterical ducks and chickens! Dixielee, I think you are right about the mail order trees. I was looking at some last night, and the thought of spending $20 a piece on trees that may be twigs is hard to swallow. I guess I'll just visit lots of garden centers in the spring. No one has to twist my arm to shop at garden centers! By the way, how strong are beavers? If I set the dogs on them, could the dogs be hurt? The big dogs are not the best at vermin control, but the border collie has killed very large racoons, and has absolutely no fear. She's getting older, though, and I wouldn't want to endanger her.
     
  8. Oxankle

    Oxankle Well-Known Member

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    Melissa;

    May I offer a bit of advice?

    First, beavers do not ordinarly kill trees, they cut them up so high that most will sprout. Apples are good about sprouting from stumps. If I were you I would get some ordinary woven wire, about 2" x 4" and make wire cages around each of the apple stumps that you want to save. Next spring they will send up sprouts like crazy; have your husband choose the best and train it into a new trunk, which will fruit the second year or the third, before your newly planted trees have time to even get started. The wire cages will stop beaver; I have to put wire around some of my pecan trees near the creek, but if the wire is there the beaver does not like to work on the tree. Make the cage large enough that it does not grow into the tree. It needs to be about three feet high.

    Now, about the sorry neighbor and his pesky pets. Beavers are like cattle. They come in and out of the water on trails, they follow those trails to and from their feeding grounds. Find the spot where they come out of the water on your property and set snares, or have the government trapper do it for you. Also, your husband can set up a blind and enter it late in the evening, using a red flashlight for illumination. The beaver come out to feed at night. (Actually, if they have never been hunted they will often work day and night.) If they are in your pond or on your land he can blast them; a shotgun with heavy shot is the surest. Try to kill the old male and his mate; juveniles will not do well without them but you still need to kill all of them you can.

    Snares and traps are available on the net. The beaver trails will be easy to spot if you look; they are as prominent as a cowtrail where they come in and out of the water or over a dam.

    Go get 'em girl; darned beavers should not be making you go without apples.
    Ox
     
  9. MelissaW

    MelissaW Well-Known Member

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    Thanks ox, that is great advice! I never even thought about the trees re-growing, but it would be so wonderful! I will definately have DH make some wraps to go around the stumps. They are chewed off about 20 inches up, I think. I think that they are following the deer trail. There are a lot of little trees chewed off along the trail that goes around the pond. Maybe we should set traps there. Our nights have been going down into the teens, with lots of snow, so I think he would be reluctant to hunker down and wait for one to cross his path! Thanks again! Who knows, maybe the trees will grow back healthier!
     
  10. Browsercat

    Browsercat Well-Known Member

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    [sigh] Why is it beavers never go after Brussels sprouts and stuff like that?

    If you are looking for good apple trees, Raintree Nursery sells a number of not-ordinary apples that do well in the PNW, and we cover everything from zone 8 on down.
     
  11. Wingnut

    Wingnut Well-Known Member

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    The wire "cages" work! If you're not fond of seeing the wire, you can paint the wire black or brown to match the tree trunks (it's easier to use spray paint and do it while the wire is still rolled up). And make them just a few inches bigger than the trunk instead of a foot or so more ~ just be careful to keep an eye on them, checking them every few months to let them out as the tree grows or you could girdle the tree.

    Good luck! I hope your trees grow back bigger and better!