Some trees are missing on the city's west side, and evidence points to the handiwork of a busy beaver.
That's right, one or more of those dam-building mammals seem to have taken up residence within the city limits.
But the beavers, whose calling cards are being left just east of the Clinton Parkway Assembly of God Church, 3200 Clinton Pkwy., don't seem to be causing any massive problems.
"I started to notice the trees are starting to disappear," said Dave Babcock, who lives on West 22nd Street, a few blocks west of where the beavers' work is evident. "The dam's not real big yet, but they're working on it."
The beavers appear to be living in a creek just east of the church.
SEVERAL TREES one to three inches diameter at the bank of the creek have been severed near their base. The felled trees are strewn together comprising what looks like the start of a dam under a bridge that crosses the stream. The dam isn't yet blocking the flow of water under the bridge, which is part of a frontage road that runs parallel to Clinton Parkway.
The beavers' location is on land that belongs to the city of Lawrence, said Kay Pesnell, recording clerk at the Douglas County Register of Deeds office.
Connie Frazier, a dispatcher with the city's street maintenance department, said the city has not received any complaints about the beavers but may inspect the site to determine if a backflow or flooding hazard will be created.
IF A HAZARD exists, city crews would contact Kansas University's Wildcare animal rehabilitation unit to relocate the animals before clearing the creek, Frazier said.
"They've done that before, even if they've found snakes in the ditches," she said.
If beavers are not creating a hazard, they will be left alone, Frazier said.
Wildlife officials said the animals are nocturnal and are rarely seen during the day.
Amy Albright, rehabilitation coordinator for Wildcare, said she didn't find it unusual for a beaver to make a home in the city limits.
"It's close enough to a wildlife area that it wouldn't surprise me," she said.
LLOYD FOX, program specialist at the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks in Emporia, theorized that two or more beavers may have set up shop at the Lawrence location after leaving a large beaver colony.
Fox said beavers typically live in colonies with their parents until they are 2 years old.
At that age, he said, the parent beavers may force the young out of the colony, which has up to 12 animals.
The beavers usually wander until they find an adequate spot to start a new colony, he said.
Fox said beavers cut down trees with their teeth and store the trees in winter dens, which they dig at the bank of a pond or stream.
Albright said beavers usually are not dangerous, unless cornered.
"They have big teeth . . . and growl," she said. "They can be quite aggressive if cornered."