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Remembering the Big Beaver of Sand Hill Road

Whether called “Grandpaw” or “Big Mama”, (s)he was the biggest beaver most of those who walked Sand Hill Road had ever seen. Big Beaver was a highlight of Sand Hill Road wildlife viewing. Even if you did not see the Big Beaver, its mate or off-spring, you could delight in the inhabitants of the pond their dam created: Great Blue Herons, Green Herons, Egrets, Kingfishers, Canada Geese and their goslings, Mallard, Mergansers and Wood Ducks and their ducklings, Eastern Painted Turtles basking and occasionally a River Otter fishing.
This August road walkers found the Big Beaver dead, a gash across its face, beneath the Sand Hill Road Bridge. Game Warden Kelly Price, called by the Putney Conservation Commission, said he had never seen anything like it: The gash was not caused by wither a predator or a beaver fight over territory. The cause of its untimely, sad death remains a mystery. And, sadly, its death came at a time critical for all pond-dependent wildlife.
Big Beaver’s dam, located below the Sand Hill Road Bridge, had washed out during the heavy rain of June 19. The dam’s loss reconnected the Sand Hill Road Pond, via Sacketts Brook, to the Wilson Pond located in a much lower area behind the Basketville seconds site. Losing the dam was like pulling the plug in a bathtub. By June 23, the Sand Hill Road Pond had drained to mud bottom. Big Beaver and its mate had just begun to rebuild the dam when he died. The rise in pond water levels created by their rebuilding has stopped. We can only hope that Big Beaver’s mate and off-spring begin building it again.
Please let the Putney Conservation Commission know of any beaver sightings along Sand Hill Road by e-mailing Ann Kerrey ( And please share your memories and photographs of the Big Beaver and its clan. Ann will post them later on iPutney.
This photograph was taken by Jack MacKay.