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Airdate: Apr 16, 2012
Scientist: Sherrie Tippie

Beavers - Spring

Beavers - Spring
Ward, where’s the beaver? This week, chances are he’s out working on his dam.

Transcript:
Beavers - Spring

Music; Ambience: beavers

JM: It's dam building season across much of the United States. No, not the hydroelectric kind. We're talking mud, wood, water - and beavers. I'm Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet.

JM: Very few animals engineer the environment around them to make it to their liking. Humans do - and so do the animals that we're listening to right now: beavers. They construct dams across streams and creeks to create a still water pool, where they build their lodge. Well this week, many of those streams are bulging from the Spring thaw, and beavers are extra busy making sure that their dams are up to the task of holding back the water. But according to Sherrie Tippie, President of Wildlife 2000 in Colorado, by building dams, beavers are doing more than just giving themselves a suitable place to live.

ST: "They do literally all kinds of wonderful things. They improve water quality, according to studies done at the University of Wyoming. They can help prevent soil erosion by slowing down the water itself. They improve trout habitat. We give a number of beaver to private land owners that want to create trout habitat for fishing."

JM: Aside from working on their dams, right now beavers are feeding on the new Spring stems beneath the water, and the plants sprouting along the shore. Also, back inside the lodge they've got a litter of newborns to tend to. The babies, called kits, won't be ready to come out for a few more months, and when they do, the little ones will be taught how to gnaw at trees, haul sticks, and make dams. Apparently you can't leave it to beaver kits to figure out on their own the skills that these rodents are famous for.

JM: I'm Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet.