About In addition to being the largest North American rodent, the beaver is Oregon’s state animal. The beaver has always been an important part of Oregon. While Oregon was being settled the fur trade was a staple to the economy, earning Oregon the nickname “the Beaver state.” While beavers are no longer economically important, beavers create important habitats for fish and other wildlife.
Beavers are common throughout Oregon’s waterways and riparian areas. They continue to grow throughout their lives and can reach 65 pounds and up to four feet in length. They range in color from reddish brown to almost black. Aside from their easily recognizable homes, beavers themselves are one of the most iconic members of the rodent family with their webbed hind feet and broad, flat, scaly tail.
While they have poor eyesight, beavers have a keen sense of smell and use it to detect predators, find food and recognize family members. Contrary to popular belief, beavers do not eat fish, they are herbivores eating a variety of aquatic plants and the soft inner bark of trees. It has been said that next to humans, beavers do more to shape their environment than any other animal. Beavers build dams across waterways creating ponds behind them and then build their lodges in the center of the pond.
The lodges have an underwater entrance, keeping the beavers safe from predators. Beaver ponds create important habitat for many other species, including juvenile Coho salmon. Some migratory birds also prefer landing on beaver ponds instead of more open bodies of water. Streams and rivers throughout the country where beaver dams are present have higher clarity levels and lower pollution levels.
This is believed to be a result of the beaver dams slowing water and allowing these things to settle to the bottom. Why do they need our help? While Oregon’s beaver population is generally healthy, habitat loss due to development is a real threat in some areas. Beavers also have many other positive effects on riparian systems that would suffer if their numbers declined significantly. It is believed that the beaver population in North America before European settlement was between 100 and 200 million.
Due to heavy trapping they were nearly extirpated from North American. Thanks to protection efforts the beaver population has grown to an estimated 15 million animals. Popular belief says that thriving beaver populations would destroy vegetation and forests along their ponds. Long term studies however have shown that the opposite is true. The U.S. Forest Service is even working to reestablish healthy beaver populations because of their positive impacts as a keystone species.
Their dams help to stabilize water levels, especially in dry months. Beavers are often criticized for chewing down trees and causing damage. However studies have been shown that not only do these trees grow back, but the beaver cuts create room for a diversity of plant life that creates habitat for other animals. Did you know? The world’s largest beaver dam is located on the southern edge of Wood Buffalo National Park in Alberta, Canada.
At 2,790 feet long it was discovered through satellite imagery and is twice the length of the Hoover Dam, at 1,244 feet long. Beavers store green branches underwater so they can eat them throughout the winter. They can hold their breath underwater for up to 15 minutes. The beaver is featured on the reverse of the Oregon state flag (displayed above). Learn more about beaver dam construction: [embedded content]See Also: Lake City Animal Hospital
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From a jungle of rain-washed pines and junipers spearing the hot blueness in the Florida sky, ran a small, tawny-haired boy. His bare toes, extending from his overalled legs, crackled in opposition to the fallen palmettos. He leaped into your air, flinging his arms towards a flock of white doves circling above him.
About The Roosevelt Elk, named for Theodore Roosevelt, is the largest of the four remaining North American elk subspecies. Males (bulls) average 875 pounds, but bulls weighing nearly 1300 pounds have been found in Alaska. Females (cows) average 700 pounds. These elk also have the largest antlers of all elk species, reaching lengths of up to four feet with a distinctive thee-point tip, or crown and the end.
The Roosevelt Elk is also much darker than other elk species, often with a dark brown or even black neck and a tan body. The Roosevelt Elk lives primarily on the western slopes of the Coastal and Cascade Ranges from northern California up to southern British Columbia. The largest unmanaged herd of Roosevelt Elk is in Olympic National Park in Washington State and consists of nearly 5,000 elk. In 1928 they were introduced to the Afognak and Raspberry islands off the coast of Alaska and are thriving there.
Typically they enjoy open lands where they can walk freely and graze on grasses, however they often prefer a mix of old growth stands and edge environments. This provides cover from the weather and predators. These elk are seasonally migratory, spending the summer months in the mountains and on snow fields and moving to lower elevations in the winter to avoid winter storms and find food. Bull Roosevelt Elk are known to live up to sixteen years in the wild, with some cows living up to twenty-one years old.
Why does it need our help? Elk play an important part in life cycle of the forest by clearing understory vegetation which makes way for other plant and animal species. Their natural predators include the gray wolf (which are making a comeback in northeastern Oregon but have been extirpated in western Oregon) and mountain lions, which usually thin herds by taking old and weak elk. It is estimated that nearly 10 million elk lived in North America prior to 1500 and were reduced to less than 100,000 by 1907.
In fact the first name suggested for what is now Olympic National Park was Elk National Park, as it was intended to be a reserve for dwindling elk herds. Currently habitat loss and fragmentation due to logging and road construction threaten these unique elk. Elk habitat is also being reduced by forest management practices that are keeping sunlight from reaching the forest floor and providing the vegetation they eat – such as clearcutting and replanting dense tree plantations.
Creative forest management practices are needed to provide breaks in the canopy while maintaining old growth stands that will allow for vegetation that is essential to elk and many other species.