The beavers are back. For the first time in nearly two centuries, the buck-toothed rodents have been gnawing away at trees in the very heart of downtown Milwaukee. What better way to start the new year than by cheering the return of these ancient natives to their ancestral home?
I first noticed their presence on a boat trip down the Milwaukee River last summer. On the west bank, just south of St. Paul Ave., several small trees had fallen into the water, and a larger one was leaning precariously in the same direction. I went back on foot a few days later, and it was beavers, all right. They had been munching away on the white poplar and green ash that line the riverbank, and there were piles of wood chips among the plastic bags and empty bottles that littered the scruffy little grove. I had to look around to remind myself that I was just east of the Pritzlaff Building and directly across the river from some of the trendiest nightspots in the Third Ward.
This is, of course, very bad news for people who like mature trees along the Riverwalk in Milwaukee. Sadly enough, it’s often the same people who like mature trees downtown who like the cute furry beavers downtown, and you can probably only have one or the other.
Hah! Just kidding. After the trees are gone, you might well have neither as the beavers move on.
Well, this is in the Journal-Sentinel, but the story takes place in Poland, which I have just confirmed on my globe is still north of here (all of Europe, it seems, is north of the United States). Still, I have not really been tempted to try this sort of entertainment venue, and I’m sure not likely to try one now. They’re on their way to the dustbin of faddish storefronts, along with self-serve yogurt joints, cupcake bakeries, and, before too long, vape shops.
This is my aunt’s doing. Every year for a long time, she has sent us a cheese and sausage gift basket from Figis, but this year she sent us a granola bar package instead. Little did she know she was driving hundreds of people out of work in the middle of the cold, cruel Wisconsin winter. They’ll have to resort to trapping. Maybe next year, she can send us a small fur-bearing animal gift basket chock full of muskrats and urban beavers, but it won’t be the same.