Beaver on the beach

Tawnya Armstrong has seen plenty of wildlife - and surprises - on the shore of Lake Michigan since moving to Grand Haven a year and a half ago. But she didn't expect to find a beaver riding the waves when she took her dog for a walk Monday morning. "I parked at the Bil-Mar (restaurant) at about 7:30, and I walked down past the dunes to the edge of the dog park, and I saw a beaver,' Armstrong said.
Jordan Travis
Apr 5, 2011


When she first saw the critter in the water, Armstrong said she thought it was in distress. It would come to shore, shake and preen itself, then jump back in the water, she said.

After calling everyone from 911 to the Coast Guard, she called her boyfriend, who gave her the number of a wildlife rescue center.

“(The wildlife center) told me that people wouldn’t like it if we relocated the beaver, because he would eat their trees,” Armstrong said.

Eventually, two rangers from Grand Haven State Park came to try to help the beaver, but had no way to get it into the Grand River — it’s presumed destination.

A fisherman on the pier told Armstrong that he had seen the beaver swimming in the waves for the past three weeks — even on days where he could have easily swum around the pier.

Armstrong thought that the animal might have been washed out into Lake Michigan by the Grand River, and couldn’t fight the currents to get back upstream, she said.

“He seemed just a little turned around,” she said.

Wandering can be a part of the animal’s life cycle, said Michigan Department of Natural Resources conservation officer Ivan Perez. When beavers are 2 years old, they are kicked out of their lodge by their mothers so they can go start colonies of their own, he explained.

“Some of them end up in a good place, some of them end up at Grand Haven State Park,” Perez said.

However, Perez said he’d never heard of beavers at the state park.

Conservation officers would intervene if the animal were injured or otherwise disabled, he said.

“In this case — where there’s nothing apparently physically wrong with it — at this point, it’s every beaver for itself,” he said.

Perez strongly recommends that only a trained rehabilitator or someone who knows how to handle a beaver would even try to help it.

“You’ve got to remember, those teeth could take down a tree,” he said.

As more people visit the beach, the beaver will likely shun the attention and move on, Perez added.

Perez said that the best way to make a complaint about an injured animal, or one being harassed by people, is to call the DNR’s Report All Poaching hotline at 1-800-282-7800.



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