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Beavers Are A Gnawing Problem For Loveland Sculpture Garden

Stacy Nick
National Sculptors' Guild Executive Direcor and Columbine Gallery owner John Kinkade stands in front of a felled Aspen tree in the guild's sculpture garden.

The National Sculptors’ Guild Sculpture Garden is meant to showcase how the outdoors can be an ideal place for art. Executive Director John Kinkade said the garden is purposefully kept fairly natural to encourage wildlife. On that count it is perhaps too successful, at least one busy beaver has made itself at home.

“I think they must be art appreciators,” Kinkade said. “Because so far they’ve avoided all the sculptures. They’re felling these trees so that they do not hit sculptures.”

Maybe not the friendliest of art critics though, right?

Artist Gary Alsum’s sculpture of a faithful canine companion, “Can I Come With?,” was right in the path of the beaver’s latest target. Right next to one downed tree, a 6-inch caliper Aspen still stands but has some sizeable chew marks around the trunk. It could have done some major damage to the piece, worth $4,500, if it had fallen.

It’s not the first time the rascally rodents have set up shop in the Loveland sculpture garden, which resides behind Kinkade's Columbine Gallery. He muses that they must “really like the artwork here.” In 2001, beavers took down 35 trees in the nearby pond, dubbed “Lake Tern.” Kinkade caught the culprits red pawed, but they were nonplussed about all the attention.

“They would swim around the pond and slap their tails against the water because they were angry about us being down on the deck looking at them,” he said.

Back then, the beavers evaded capture (and relocation) and eventually moved on. This time around, the gallery isn't waiting for nature to take its course and has brought in Critter Gitter of Northern Colorado.

Credit Stacy Nick / KUNC
Chew marks encircle a tree trunk at the National Sculptors' Guild Sculpture Garden. A sculpture in the tree's path was moved so it wouldn't be damaged if the tree fell.

Repellant pellets that give off an offensive odor to the beaver have been put down near the den, said Jackie Cisco, who owns the Windsor-based wildlife management company with her husband, Scott.

If that doesn’t deter them, the company will use live traps to catch the beavers and relocate them to a less urban area. It's the first time the couple has been called out to catch a beaver in Loveland.

Anywhere there is water, you can find beavers, said Jennifer Churchill, spokeswoman for Colorado Parks and Wildlife. But art and wildlife don't always mix.

“That's what's funny about wildlife,” she said. “What is someone’s pest is another person’s prize.”

But maybe there's a chance to introduce the beavers to the joy of the arts?

Kinkade said he plans to finish attaching wire jackets to the tree trunks to keep them from being chewed on. That way everyone can enjoy the sculptures.

“Then they can just stroll around the garden to their heart’s content,” he laughed. “We’d love to see them.”

Stacy was KUNC's arts and culture reporter from 2015 to 2021.
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