The180·The 180

The case for the majestic beaver

Sure, they may topple your favourite tree or flood your property with their dams, but that is what makes beavers awesome, according to Carleton University's Michael Runtz. The biologist says it's time for the beaver to take its rightful place in the pantheon of the world's most majestic animals.
A Canadian beaver swims in a pond at the St-Felicien Wildlife Zoo in St-Felicien, Quebec. (Mathieu Belanger/Reuters)

Sure, they may take down your favourite tree with nothing but their teeth, or flood your property by building their dams, but that is what makes beavers awesome, according to Carleton University's Michael Runtz. The biologist says it's time for the beaver's unique behaviours to get some respect, and for the rodent to take its rightful place in the pantheon of the world's most majestic animals.

Runtz says it's pretty amazing that beavers can cut down trees with their teeth, and build lodges. Even more impressive, when the build lodges they create entire habitats for other creatures, from insects to woodpeckers. 

I really tip my hat to beavers, and think they are an "A" animal. In fact, I'll give beavers an A plus.- Michael Runtz

He says a publisher once told him that beavers are "B" animals, compared to "sexy big" animals like moose and wolves, but Runtz disagrees: "to me beavers are the most dynamic of the group, and do so much more for the environment, for other plants and animals, than any other animal does. I really tip my hat to beavers, and think they are an "A" animal. In fact, I'll give beavers an A plus." 

So the next time a beaver chews down your favourite tree? Plant a new one, Runtz says, and rejoice in the fact that the old one went to a good use. 

If you're looking to hear the rest of that archival interview with Penn Powell, about his run in with a B.C. beaver, you'll want to check out the CBC Archives page.

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