Leave it to beaver!
At least five large trees in Riverside Park and a few trees at residences in Minneota have been gnawed on recently by at least one beaver preparing for winter.
Three of the trees in Riverside Park on the north side of town along the Yellow Medicine River suffered heavy damage by the animal and will likely have to be taken down. Two other trees show gnaw marks on them and city workers have placed wire cylinders around each one to save them from further damage. By placing the cylinders around trees, it protects them without having to destroy the beavers and their wetland ecosystem.
The city is also attempting to trap the beaver and relocate it.
A beaver can fell a medium-sized tree in a single night, using its sharp teeth and strong jaw muscles. They prefer aspen, poplar, cottonwood, cherry, willow, birch and apple trees.
Gail Perrizo, who lives across the street from Riverside Park, noticed her crabapple tree had been chewed last week.
"I looked out my window one morning and saw the tree had been chewed," she said. "There is also a large stump in my back yard that has been chewed."
Another resident who lives along the river further east also reported that one or more of his trees had been chewed, according to Minneota Police Chief Bill Bolt.
"We started noticing this over a week ago," Chief Bolt said. "The beaver really went to town on the trees in the park. Apparently, we have the best tasting trees in Minneota."
According to many longtime Minneota residents questioned by the Mascot, this has not happened in town for as long as they recall.
Beavers do not hibernate, so they store up for the cold weather by eating the inner growing layers of tree bark, as well as twigs and leaves. Beavers are most active when the weather starts to turn cold and will take down trees and use the branches for building dams and lodges.
Despite living in the water, a beaver does not eat fish and its diet consists solely on vegetation. They live on the water as a defense from predators so they usually don't travel too far from the water to cut down a tree; most are within 100 feet of the water.
Beavers have large orange teeth shaped like chisels which enable them to chew up a tree quite easily. While humans have enamel on the outer layer of their teeth that is hardened by calcium, the enamel of a beaver's teeth is hardened with iron, making them much stronger and giving them a rust-orange color.
A beaver's teeth never stop growing so chewing wood helps keep them sharp and prevents them from growing too long.
Minneota residents are asked to contact the city if they are having problems with beavers.