Sudbury

The battle between a Sudbury conservation group and a busy beaver

When Konrad Wiltmann started working with Conservation Sudbury a few years ago, he never imagined part of his job would be an ongoing battle with a beaver to keep a trail clear.

Each August, a beaver brings up sticks and mud on a Sudbury trail

A camera was set up at the Lake Laurentian Conservation Area to catch this beaver in action. (Supplied/Konrad Wiltmann)

When Konrad Wiltmann started working with Conservation Sudbury a few years ago, he never imagined part of his job would be an ongoing battle with a beaver to keep a trail clear.

Wiltmann is the trails maintenance supervisor for the group and says his job has an extra added duty at the end of August, all thanks to a busy beaver.

"Near the end of August and going into the fall, every night he's back here putting on more sticks and more mud," he said.

"I usually come here every morning and check it out and clean it up."

Each night, a beaver brings up a combination of mud, sticks and grass onto a floating boardwalk which is part of the trail system.

Letting the beaver 'do his thing'

Wiltmann says he works to strike a balance to keep the trail open and safe, but still respects the trail is in a wetland, the beaver's home.

"We're happy to let the beaver … build underneath the floating boardwalk but as soon as he starts to build over, it becomes a nuisance to hikers," he said.

Konrad Wiltmann with Conservation Sudbury stands on the floating boardwalk trail where a beaver has brought up sticks and mud. (Martha Dillman/CBC)

"The plan is to let him do his thing while keeping the trail clear."

Wiltmann recently set up a camera to try and capture the beaver in action. The results did not disappoint.

"We found out he was either walking around the fence where we hadn't extended it to yet or he even just kind of throws sticks over the fence," he said.

"He just keeps going."

Despite setting up a fence, the beaver has been able to drop sticks onto the floating boardwalk trail. (Supplied/Konrad Wiltmann)

He's been posting the photos of the beaver in action on social media, as well as ongoing tally of who's ahead in this battle. Currently, the beaver has a narrow lead of 18-17, Wiltmann said.

"To be honest, we will never be winning that war," he said.

"The only way we can tie it is if we fix the fence and for one night there's no sticks. That's the only way we tie the game. I'm sure we're also a nuisance to him because he restarts every day with more mud and more sticks."

About the Author

Martha Dillman is a multimedia journalist based in Sudbury. You can find her on Twitter @marthaCBC or by email martha.dillman@cbc.ca

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