Humans generally think they have it all over the rest of the animal kingdom, but those creatures not classified as Homo sapiens generally do get a few breaks. For one thing, animals are usually immune to having to pay taxes or, say, follow government building regulations.
Some beavers in the Pierson area found themselves the exceptions to those rules when area resident Ryan DeVries received a letter from the state of Michigan in December, 1997. The Detroit News and Wall Street Journal both reported that Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality sent DeVries a notice that the contractor who did the unauthorized activity of constructing two wood debris dams on the outlet stream of Spring Pond faced charges of $10,000 a day if said unauthorized activities weren’t stopped.
DeVries passed the letter on to his landlord, Stephen Tvedten, who fired back a letter still on file with Montcalm County that stated a couple of beavers were the contractors engaged in the unauthorized activity, and that Tvedten did not authorize or pay for the illegal dams. Tvedten further suggested that all beavers in Michigan should be required to fill out permits to build dams if the Spring Pond beavers were so required, and suggested the wardens instead go after some bears in the habit of despoiling the adjacent woods with defecation.
Eventually, the department figured out that the whole episode was triggered by a neighbor who complained about the dams because he was afraid of flooding on his property. The responding agent had written the cease-and-desist letter to the dam builders without inspecting the property. When Spring Pond was finally inspected by a DEQ employee, the agency dropped its investigation and the beavers were finally left to their own dam devices.
Excerpted with permission from Strange Michigan; More Wolverine Weirdness by Linda S. Godfrey and Lisa A. Shiel, by Trails Books