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Busy beaver dams Langley

Seen from above, the partially built beaver dam inside a Langley city culvert already looks like a mess. City employees spent Monday cleaning it out and looking into trapping the beaver that built it. - Jennifer Conway
Seen from above, the partially built beaver dam inside a Langley city culvert already looks like a mess. City employees spent Monday cleaning it out and looking into trapping the beaver that built it.
— image credit: Jennifer Conway

One at a time over the past four weeks, Martha Murphy thought Langley’s public works department was removing small trees from around the building where her Anthes Avenue business is located.

“Every three days there’d be another one down,” she said.

Murphy — who owns Whidbey Children’s Theatre, located in Langey’s Porter Building — said she had noticed the small trees were often propped up against the rear of the building. She said she didn’t think twice about the trees after they had disappeared from sight by the next day.

But after the “tree trimmer” decided to dig up the roots and area around a white birch tree next to the building and near a culvert and stream bed, Murphy said her thoughts immediately went to the children in her theatre program.

“I thought ‘Who’s been out here digging?’” she said.

As it turns out, “what,” not “who” is the operative word in this case. The disappearing trees had been taken down by a beaver, a beaver that has been working hard for the past month to dam up one of the biggest stormwater culverts in the city.

On Sunday, Langley South Whidbey Chamber Director Loretta Martin was surprised to see two large sections of a maple tree from the side of the building laying on the fence adjacent to the chamber building. She left after dark on Sunday, but after getting to work Monday, she saw the pile had grown even larger overnight. Sections of trees about 5 to 6 inches in diameter were piled on the fence. She said many of the small maple trees had fallen over the fence and were blocking the public restrooms.

“I thought ‘What the heck is going on?’” Martin said. “It’s very definitely a beaver.”

Langley’s Director of Public Works Rick Hill said this is the first time he’s ever seen evidence that a beaver has made his way into downtown Langley. Hill said the beaver has been making industrious use of the trees it has felled. It apparently carried them in pieces into a city culvert that drains into Puget Sound. On Monday, Hill opened a catch-basin on Second Street to find it choked with small logs and twigs. The log jam was over 150 feet from where the culvert enters the pipe behind the Porter building.

Hill said he has contacted the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife to determine how to handle the situation. After cleaning up the trees left by the beaver, he said he will contact a trapper who can catch the animal and release him back into the wild — outside of the city limits.

After looking at the pile near the chamber’s door, Martin said she knows how the beaver earned it’s reputation.

“I can see why they say busy as a beaver now,” she said.

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