An item in the news today piqued my interest: a satellite has picked up an image that may be the world’s largest beaver dam, nearly half a mile long. I can sit here, look out my window, and pick a spot that I know is just about a half-mile away. It seems inconceivable.

Over the years I’ve been impressed by networks of dams; by the height some dams have achieved; occasionally the length. The terrain of New England, the generally smaller nature of most streams doesn’t call for a long dam.

Here in Massachusetts, beavers were extirpated for many years, or at least nearly so. They have enjoyed a population boom in recent decades. At first this was cause for celebration, what with being cute and hard-working.

It didn’t take long before the trouble started.

People’s favorite trees were being cut down; yards flooded. Roads and cemeteries were starting to be threatened. And then the catch – there are laws about what you can do about this. That led to surreptitious raids to dismantle the dams. The beavers simply moved someplace else, and became someone else’s problem.

Now comes a story from Denmark that after an absence of more than a thousand years, beavers have successfully been re-introduced into a few remote areas. There are fewer than a hundred individuals, and there’s a lot of enthusiasm about how they’re restoring areas that had been drained and forested in the past.

I wonder how long it will be before they begin to complain about the problem they’ve created?

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