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Beavers Especially Vulnerable

9-28-16-coyote-and-beaver-20160927_3275Little did I know when I wrote yesterday’s post about the silver lining of our low water levels that I would so quickly encounter another predator benefiting from the current drought. I have spent a considerable amount of time this summer watching three generations of beavers do their best to survive as their pond proceeded to diminish to the point of exposing one of their lodge entrances and confining them to an increasingly small body of water. The underwater entrances to a beaver lodge are vital to their protection, and predators are well aware of this.

Yesterday the importance of water as a protective barrier was made very clear to me when a coyote appeared on the opposite shore of the beaver pond from where I sat. It stood for several seconds exactly where the beavers leave the pond on their way to nearby woods to cut poplars and birches which they haul back to their pond to eat. A well-worn trail marks the spot. You could imagine the coyote, upon surveying the shallowness of the pond, telling itself to be patient, as better days were just around the corner.

Moments after the coyote left, the mother beaver got out of the pond precisely where the coyote had been standing and took a few steps before sniffing the ground and then the air (see insert). Being nocturnal, beavers have an acute sense of smell which they use for detecting danger, food and for communication with each other. It took mere seconds for the beaver to detect the scent of the coyote, at which point she turned and sought refuge in the dwindling amount of water remaining around her lodge.  May the heavens open up soon.

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17 responses

  1. Al Stoops

    A few weeks ago we found beaver bones (including the skull) in the woods near the North Branch River (and the cedar swamp) in Antrim NH. I wonder if it had fallen victim to a coyote….

    September 28, 2016 at 6:52 am

  2. Al Stoops

    I just noticed, looking at your photos, that the log in the lower right corner of the coyote pic is the same one just above the beaver’s nose. A close call indeed for that beaver–a missed meal for the coyote!

    September 28, 2016 at 6:55 am

  3. Alice Pratt

    The Coyote looks well fed.

    September 28, 2016 at 7:21 am

  4. AMEN!

    September 28, 2016 at 7:36 am

  5. cjbarg@aol.com

    mary just a note to tell thee that beavers are not totaly victims my veterinary friend from the yukon had 2 dogs throat torn out and killed by beavers last year nature is full of beauty but little kindness berger

    September 28, 2016 at 8:08 am

    • Hi Charlie, If I’m not mistaken, I heard about a coyote that was killed by a beaver in Hanover quite a few years ago.

      September 29, 2016 at 9:27 am

  6. Bill On The Hill...

    Wow Mary… This was a great encounter to experience. It kind of vilifies just how violent life can be for wildlife in general. That is a good size coyote that appears to be well fed… Eat or be eaten!

    September 28, 2016 at 8:37 am

  7. Hilary Thomson

    We live on a beaver pond, in Concord, and the water is very low. I will be watching for coyotes. Thank you.

    September 28, 2016 at 9:15 am

  8. Kathy Schillemat

    The face on that coyote is magnificent! Thanks for the pictures.
    and the story.

    September 28, 2016 at 12:12 pm

  9. Nice Coyote photo Mary surprised he came that close to you!

    September 28, 2016 at 1:57 pm

    • I was using my 400 mm lens, Roger! Saw one of your bobcat photos when I recently spoke at Tin Mountain Conservation Center in Albany, NH. A real beauty, as all of your photos are!

      September 29, 2016 at 9:17 am

  10. mariagianferrari

    That eastern coyote/coywolf is one magnificent creature! I have a picture book that released this summer called Coyote Moon 🙂

    September 28, 2016 at 3:07 pm

  11. Wow, close call… Amazing how quickly mama beaver came out to investigate. Good survival skill for sure… I do hope water levels increase soon for her and her whole family’s sake. But… what a beautiful, healthy looking coyote! An image which captures the circle and drama of nature.

    September 28, 2016 at 4:22 pm

  12. A handsome and healthy coyote. I expect since they are both largely nocturnal, they encounter each other regularly.
    We hear the coyotes nearly every night now. A lot of the streams are low or dry, so the river is the place to drink.

    September 28, 2016 at 9:43 pm

  13. How do you distinguish a coyote from a wolf? I would have guessed that was a wolf because of the size and full tail. Thanks for helping me with distinguishing the two.

    October 30, 2016 at 9:59 pm

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