November’s full moon, which will rise Tuesday night, is known as the beaver moon, according to the Old Farmer‘s Almanac. It’s supposedly called beaver moon because this is the time of year when industrious beavers are laying in a supply of food and making their dens, or lodges, snug for the winter.
The name also might be from the days of the fur trade, when November was prime time to trap beavers for their thick, winter-ready pelts.
Whatever the name’s origin, this seems an appropriate time to note the 75th anniversary of the beaver’s return to Georgia. Prior to the 1940s, the beaver had been virtually eliminated from Georgia as well as from most of its range throughout the United States, primarily because of unregulated trapping and loss of wetlands due to logging, agriculture and development.
But beginning in the mid-1940s, an intensive restocking program helped restore beaver populations in Georgia. Today, dam-building beavers are found statewide in most areas with a year-round water flow — streams, lakes, ponds, wetlands, and low lying land or swamps along flood-prone creek and river bottoms.
Ecologically, the beaver’s return has been an enormous success. Numerous studies show that beavers and the dams — often more than 240 feet long — and ponds they build play critical roles in helping wildlife thrive. For one thing, the presence of beavers in a stream significantly increases the diversity of native birds, fish and plants.
Beaver dams also help filter pollutants from water and help mitigate flooding.
For these reasons, wildlife mangers now consider the beaver a “keystone species,” meaning that the animal’s presence in an area is a key to helping others species thrive and flourish.
IN THE SKY: From David Dundee, Tellus Science Museum astronomer:
The North Taurid meteor shower (last week we had the South Taurid shower) reaches a peak of about 15 meteors per hour on Monday night. Best viewing: In the east from midnight to dawn.
Venus is very low in the west just after dark and sets shortly thereafter. Mars is low in the east just before dawn. Jupiter is in the southwest around dusk and sets soon afterward. Saturn is low in the south just after dark and sets in the west three hours later.
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