Beavers v. Backhoes

Over the last few weeks, Bessemer City, NC has been the battlegrounds for beavers and backhoes. The two have been fighting over the water supply for the city.

A Backhoe-Man's Machine

A Beaver-Nature's Machine

The first strike came from the beavers during the week of April 5-11, who dammed up Mills Creek, which helps feed the city’s water supply. Shortly after a city backhoe came and destroyed the dam. The beavers rebuilt it again, and the backhoe destroyed it again…

Although this would seem like a lopsided confrontation, the beavers put up a fight unexpected by all. Instead of retreating, the beavers marched, or swam, to the main water supply at Long Creek. There they built a dam once again. When they were discovered, the backhoe came again and wreaked havoc on the dam, but once again the beavers rebuilt.

Spectators may be amused by the continued perseverance of the beavers, but city officials express that the matter is having a significant impact on the city. Because of a water shortage, people are already on water restrictions, and now the beavers are compounding the problem. In 2002, Long Creek almost dried up, and the city had to purchase water from its neighbors at Kings Mountain. The city may have to do this again if they cannot stop the beaver dilemma. Bessemer City is not allowed to hire trappers to solve the beaver problem, because beavers can only be trapped on city grounds. Also, relocation is expected to not solve the problem, but only move it elsewhere.

Despite the potential water supply problems the city faces, city and industry leaders give credit to the beavers for their persistence and dam-building skills. Bessemer City interim manager, Allan Ferris, has said about the matter: “They’ve done an excellent job…The Army Corps of Engineers couldn’t have built a better dam.” Also, Matt Klabacka, president of the National Association of Heavy Equipment Schools (NAHETS), was amazed with the beavers’ backhoe rivalry. In response to the article he said “maybe we should hire some beavers at our member schools.”

So, for the time being, the game of cat and mouse (oops, beaver and backhoe), continues. The beavers are relentless so far, and the backhoe as well. Who will prevail-nature’s machine, or man’s machine?

…And for those of you who think a beaver dam is an easy take down…

A Beaver Dam

…Wikipedia reports that the largest beaver dam built was 2,140 feet long, 14 feet high, and 23 feet thick. In other words, this dam would tower over the one above.

For news coverage see:

Beaver v. Bulldozer 1

Beaver v. Bulldozer 2

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