Beavers are a beloved Riverdale institution. They live with residents from across the borough, developing dozens of backyards, building dams and collecting pollen to ensure healthy, healthy forests.
Since 2014, however, when the Essex Wildlife Conservation Society moved a beaver from the sprawling Ramapo Reservoir on her way to a different location, local beavers have been displaced. Today, several flood-prone beavers call the Kent Reservoir their home. So when there was a suggested “no beaver” sign at the Kent Reservoir on Monday — a local dinner club was planning to eat at the iconic picnic spot — beavers were naturally upset.
They also had to get through a few awkward awakenings, such as when Essex Wildlife Conservation Society biologist Mark Nunn visited the reservoir after 10 p.m. on Saturday and was unable to safely leave the premises, as the beavers only let him back in about one hour later. From New York, Community Affairs and Environmental Program Manager Wendy Klewasser and Westchester County Warden Benjamin Price also visit the pond several times a week.
But they also have a website on which they advocate for being “wild and free” and famously say that a beaver tethered to a chain is “more ferocious than a predator.”
“This is a petition,” Essex Wildlife Conservation Society’s website notes, “just in case you want to cast your vote in support of saving the beavers.”
An urban town called Suburbanville where lawns are tightly manicured, waterfronts are abutted by houses, and people have piles of garlic and allspice hanging around the trees, you would think most of the people in this community would be thrilled by beavers being there. But, unlike with other animals — or, for that matter, other humans — beavers are a threatening species for the operators of Kent and Essex Rivers.
In response to a time when local waterside clam-shack dwellers wondered how invasive Asian carp, for example, could grow to loping 10-ton, aggressive and great predators, the Essex Wildlife Conservation Society puts forth a simple and often-repeated line: beavers are “No 1 invasive animal” of concern.
Unfortunately, the beavers are respected members of the Upper East Side community, and are beloved by many of the inhabitants of the shoreline. Among the signers of the petition to keep the beavers from the Kent Reservoir are residents, politicians, and local business owners, including the South Korean restaurant where the parkers, the local rowing club, and the biker shop all have second homes. “We need our beavers,” reads the description on the petition, “to help us maintain our waterways in a healthy way and to support the social interaction between our wildlife and human beings.”
Of course, there have been cases of beavers living with local people in many, many different kinds of predicaments, as experience shows. “Animals don’t care if you’re a councilman or a drug addict or homeless,” Elizabeth Conner once wrote, quoting Mary Aldrich-Liszt, “if you have a heart, you’ll love her.” Beavers are sympathetic, and have taught us all plenty of lessons over the years.
In this case, the beavers in Riverdale simply don’t care who the town’s political representatives are. That’s fine with them. “Perhaps it’s my own fault for not trusting Mr. Teller,” said one woman signing the petition, referring to the leader of our nation’s foremost doomsday-prepping cult. We’ll see about that.