Beaver steals fisherman’s bait trap

A year ago, in a story that sounded too crazy to be true, I shared the tale of an Aroostook County hunter who lost his hunting rifle to a pesky beaver.

Felonious beavers back at it: This time, a bait trap caught the eye of Mr. Beaver. (Wikimedia Commons image)

Felonious beavers back at it: This time, a bait trap caught the eye of Mr. Beaver. (Wikimedia Commons image)

It turned out that the toothy varmint was apparently in the market for some good hardwood shelving for the ol’ beaver house, and dragged the rifle (which the hunter had left leaning on a tree when nature called) into the water.

Since I’m the BDN’s head felonious beaver writer (or something like that), I wasn’t entirely surprised late last week when another reader emailed with news of more beaver-based crime in the Maine woods.

Yes, they’re back at it. (Can’t trust a beaver, I always say).

“About three weeks ago, a friend of mine and I went to a pond to collect the bait from one of my bait traps,” Duane Aldrich of Lee wrote. “The bait trap was gone. We went to the local game warden and reported the theft.”

Aldrich said the thief — at that point he was still certain that a two-legged culprit was to blame — walked off with a homemade trap that was about four feet long.

“[The warden] said he’d be on the lookout for it. Then I mentioned that it appeared a beaver trapper was trapping at the same site,” Aldrich wrote. “That’s when the warden said, ‘Are you sure the beaver didn’t take it?’ I have to admit that at the time that seemed a little far-fetched and I kind of laughed it off.”

Thieving beavers are no laughing matter, though. And eventually, Aldrich came to that realization.

“As time went by something in the back of my mind kept bothering me, and finally I remembered reading an article about a beaver stealing a fella’s hunting rifle,” Aldrich wrote. “So after three weeks had elapsed, I revisited that same little pond to set out some more bait traps.”

After setting a couple of traps under four inches of ice near shore, he decided to do a bit of investigating.

“[I went] to the approximate location of my original trap and cut another hole,” he wrote. “That’s when I poked around some with my chisel in that brackish water and much to my surprise discovered that four-foot trap!”

Aldrich rushed home to get a pick pole and returned to the pond. He was able to snag the rope that had been attached to the trap, and pulled it out of the water.

Then he learned the true identity of the bait trap thief … and learned that the culprit hadn’t been after the trap at all.

“The trap came out, however I wasn’t able to pull the whole rope up because, judging by the direction of the rope under the ice — which was aimed directly at the beaver’s feed bed — [that’s where the rope had been taken].”

Aldrich explained that the end of the rope had been tied to a two-foot-long piece of wood, upon which he writes his name and address, as is required by law.

“The robber beaver had entangled the two-foot piece of cedar tied to the end of the rope into the rest of his stored up supplies,” Aldrich wrote.

After recovering the trap, Aldrich contacted the game warden he had spoken to earlier and told him the story.

“[I] apologized for scoffing at his beaver remarks earlier,” Aldrich wrote. “When I told him I had the trap back, he said, ‘You’re kidding!'”

Aldrich has returned to the pond since, and has had no problem with the beaver.

“Lesson learned? Don’t attach something the beaver might find tasty to the end of your bait trap rope,” he wrote.

Follow me on Twitter: @JohnHolyoke


John Holyoke

About John Holyoke

John Holyoke has been enjoying himself in Maine's great outdoors since he was a kid. Today, he's the Outdoors editor for the BDN, a job that allows him to meet up with Maine outdoors enthusiasts in their natural habitat. The stories he gathers provide fodder for his columns, and this blog.