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Readers have beaver fever

Tap out a few hundred words on some local mobster, and I can expect several phone calls — at least one of them life-threatening.

Take up the columnist’s sling and hurl a rhetorical pebble against the castle of a Strip casino titan, and I might receive a higher volume of response — and a letter threatening litigation.

Pen a political piece about one of our keepers of the public trust, and there’s likely to be no response at all.

But write one story about spotting a lowly deceased beaver during a recent walk outside Boulder City, and dozens of you folks can’t stop slapping me with your tales of similar sightings.

Talk about beaver fever. This subject has really given you something to chew on.

Diane Pouch can barely contain herself.

“We have also seen beavers!” she writes. “Last summer our family took the boat through the Narrows and stopped somewhere before hitting the upper lake. We were eating lunch in an outlet that had a small cavelike opening. We dared our then-11-year-old to swim in. He swam up to the entrance and swam back as fast he could muttering, ‘Something’s in there.’ We laughed and teased him as I said ‘I’ll handle it.’ I swam up to the opening and to my surprise was met by a large beaver face hunched over and grunting.”

After returning to the boat faster than Michael Phelps, Pouch and her family discovered they’d come across another family: a mother beaver and three little ones.

The River Walk area in Laughlin on the Colorado River is Noreen Nash’s favorite place to catch the cute little critters. “And I, too, was stunned the first time I saw a beaver swimming along the shore down there. Now, I’m disappointed when I don’t see one. (On my last visit, I enjoyed watching a set-to between one of the beavers and one of the many resident raccoons.)”

Joe Merritt has seen them there, too, while camping in 2006 during the annual Laughlin River Run.

“Like you, I was of the belief that beavers had been trapped out years ago,” Merritt said. “I later ran into an employee of the campground and asked him about the beavers. He said that they had to watch them because they were always trying to cut down the tree on the property.”

Longtime reader Julie Bare of Bullhead City, Ariz., first saw the creatures in 1965 south of Davis Dam on the Colorado.

“Beavers were on the Nevada side of the riverbank, busy trying to build some sort of lodge or hut-looking device,” she writes.

When civilization crept close, the beavers moved on.

Which brings us to another issue where beavers are concerned. Given the chance, they’ll expand their condos without the proper permits.

A reader named Mark, who works at the wetlands nature preserve near Sam Boyd Stadium, notes that “part of our morning job that we have to do is break down beaver dams.” He estimates that 60 to 80 beavers live near the stadium, which in recent seasons would constitute a good crowd for a Rebels football game.

As the Southern Nevada Water Authority’s engineering project manager in charge of stabilizing Las Vegas Wash from Lake Las Vegas to the Clark County Wetlands Park Nature Center, Gary Hester is a beaver believer.

“Just read your column,” he writes. “You better sit down for this.

“We often see the workings of beaver in the wash and periodically catch a glimpse of them. Just three weeks ago, one of my contractors spotted one on his work site, near Lake Las Vegas. Beavers have been known to chew on trees all the way up to the Nature Center. There is a reason most of the young trees have wire around them at the Nature Center!”

As president and founder of Worth A Dam, Heidi Perryman speaks for the beavers, or at least notes their importance to our water system.

“Just remember, the more beaver sightings you have in Nevada the better news it will be for your water supply. February is ‘dispersal’ month so it is not uncommon to see 2-year-old beavers walking distances to find their own habitat.”

Some columnists would be put off by all this chatter about an oversized rodent. I say gnaw.

When it comes to beavers, at least I know you really give a dam.

Nevada native John L. Smith also writes a column for the Las Vegas Review-Journal that appears Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Contact him at jsmith@reviewjournal.com or call 702-383-0295.

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