A Call to Action

   Posted by heidi08 On November - 22 - 2014ADD COMMENTS
Rett Davis
Published: Friday, November 21, 2014 at 05:28 PM.

Question: Coyotes howl, ducks quack, and deer snort. What sounds do beavers make?

Answer: The only sounds I have heard from a beaver are when they slap the water with their tail. It is a rare day that you walk up on beavers unnoticed. They have a keen sense of either hearing or sight. Your question prompted me to contact my wildlife biologist friends.  Both Harlan Hall and Jason Allen agreed they do not have a distinct call. When caught in a trap they will growl and hiss. But most animals do that. They did comment that puppy like sounds can be heard coming from their lodge. A lodge is where a beaver family dries out and sleeps. It is there that they are protected from the weather and their predators.  Swamps and all the animals that inhabit them surround their lodges.  You are welcome to pursue this answer. Let me know what you find out.

Raise your hand if you think Mr. Davis is correct? Well the poor man only talked to trappers for research so we probably shouldn’t blame him. We should invite him to come to Martinez from North Carolina and have a listen around June, when kits are whining away and yearlings are starting to get jealous. Then he will find out how very wrong this answer is.

Once upon a time, an entire age ago, I didn’t know beavers made noise either. And I thought they might possibly eat fish. I remember standing at Starbucks looking into the creek just after the city said they should be killed and thinking, do the people who want them dead even know about that noise? Have they ever heard it?

And then, if I let these beavers die, when will I ever hear that sound again?

So that plaintive whining became my call to action.  I thought, well I’d give the issue a weekend and try to save them. Then a week. And then, well you know the rest.

For beaver, though it hath no tongue, will speak

With most miraculous organ

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Reports are in…

   Posted by heidi08 On November - 21 - 2014ADD COMMENTS

New reports released on Knapdale Scottish Beaver Trial

Six new reports examining the Scottish Beaver Trial in Argyll have been published. The studies will help the Scottish government in considering any future reintroductions of the animals.

 The first Norwegian beavers were released in Knapdale in 2009 after six months of quarantine at the Highland Wildlife Park near Aviemore.

 The reports cover the health and diet of the mammals and their impact on the landscape and local economy.Researchers noted that the beavers changed the shape of woodland close to loch shores and increased the water level of one loch after building a dam on it.

 The presence of the animals at Knapdale boosted visits to the area by “beaver tourists” and volunteers to the project, according to one of the reports. The same research suggested the benefit to local businesses was “modest”.

The only beavers in the world more famous than Martinez beavers. They’ve been studied, observed, weighed, poked and prodded. The water they backed up has been counted and the very trees they chewed have been measured for regrowth. The trial was finally concluded and the data is in. Now they only need to prepare summaries for the government and recommend Aye or Nay. I can’t seem to find the reports online, but I’ll keep looking. This part made me smile.

Martin Gaywood, who leads the independent scientific monitoring of the trial for Scottish Natural Heritage, said it was essential that any species reintroduction project was properly managed and monitored.

He said: “The independent monitoring of the Scottish Beaver Trial has helped us understand how they behave in a Scottish environment.

Umm very like they behave in any other environment?

il_570xN.555130119_noadI couldn’t resist. These adorable buttons and many others are being donated to our silent auction by Tevah and Jody Platt from Michigan. They were so excited when I asked them to think about donating that they designed buttons just for us! It turns out they grew up in the Bay Area and their mom was a HIV/AIDS counselor in Martinez. (Small beaver world.)  They had never heard the beaver story and were thrilled to learn about it. They have many fantastic designs, but I sent these right away to our friends of the Tay beavers. You can go check out their creative buttons here:

Our sponsor ISI was kind enough to update our profile page with the recent radio appearance. They describe it as a National Public Radio show, which it was, but thank goodness I only thought of it as limited to CT.

Capture

 

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Beaver madness

   Posted by heidi08 On November - 20 - 2014ADD COMMENTS

beaver guestsIf you missed our exciting CT debut you can check out the podcast  and learn about the guests here. The beginning of the program is a little excessively whimsical, but it’s a pretty awesome listen overall. I was so happy to learn Sherri was going to be on at the end, and thrilled when the host rightfully called her “the Bruce Springsteen of Beaver Trapping”. I’m not unhappy with my performance. I did an okay job of saying what I wanted to say regardless of whatever silly question was asked. (A trick politicians innately seem to have, but is hard for us compliant folks to learn.) It was very hard to hear on the phone, and I was straining ever muscle to make sure I followed what they were saying, even with the dog locked outside and the volume up.

I weirdly never feel stressed during the actual event, but I was a basket case the rest of the day, so I guess it does take something out of you. The amazingly well-spoken caller from East Haddam, CT, was echoed by almost the exact same comment on this website from Pennsylvania. Did you see? Telling people on the East coast that we can live with beaver has amazing results. I loved the genuine interest and education of the producer and the host, who contacted me after to say thanks and make sure they hadn’t posted nutria pictures.  And Sherri called me excited after the interview and wanted to kvetch about all the things we didn’t get to say. Not missing any opportunities, I then boldly wrote and thanked both authors, asking for copies of their books for the silent auction. It was quite the morning.

CaptureNo resting on our laurels, time marches on, and yesterday I noticed this photo leading an article about mink farming in Nova Scotia.  The article quotes our friends at Furbearer Defenders and criticizes mink farms for being unsanitary. But its righteous message is compromised by its inherent plagierism. Maybe the photo seems  familiar to you? Or maybe you didn’t recognize it without CREDIT to our own Cheryl Reynolds? I wrote the editor and the reporter so we’ll see if it gets credited soon.

In the meantime there’s this charming appreciation of beavers from an outdoor column in Illinois.

CaptureSince the early 1960s I have been amazed with beavers.

 Before that we had no giant rodents in our state so this was an all new animal. As they became more numerous, many farmers loved to see them and became very protective of any that built dams on their waterways. In fact many farms that contained beaver colonies became a sightseeing event for many folks.

Is that true that Illinois didn’t reintroduce beaver until the 60′s? That would be very surprising. But reading through his column I see that he is largely unburdened by facts or research of any kind. He emphatically states that beavers were easy to wipe out because they only have two kits every year. And that they fell trees and eat the entire thing, all the way to the top.

Well, okay then. Maybe not the 60′s.

Ice conditions make trapping very dangerous and hard work. After catching a large beaver, there is a lot of work to get them ready for market. The animal must be skinned, fleshed (all the fat removed) and placed on a round stretcher to dry. This results in several hours of hard work. The hourly rate doesn’t attract many trappers.

When I was at the beaver festival in Utah I had an interesting conversation with Mary about the Utah trapping association. She had invited them to the event and they brought furs for the children to touch. Mary was especially impressed by one trapper who explained that ‘beavers are really good for the creek! They make all this wildlife!’ and she admonished her students to spend more time talking to them. Because you can’t only talk to people who agree with you. And they could learn things.

Which is true. I agree 100% with the concept. Someone should have many conversations with trappers, wardens and invite their local technicians from APHIS for a beer.

Someone else.

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Beavers on the Radio – Oh, and me too!

   Posted by heidi08 On November - 19 - 20142 COMMENTS

UPDATE: That was a lot of fun! I didn’t know our old friend Sherri would be joining us. What a nice surprise. In case you missed it here’s the link.sherri worth a dam
Capture

Yesterday I got a call from the producer asking me to be on the radio today with the NYTimes reporter of the beaver article who had given her my name. Would I be willing to talk about beaver benefits and solutions to beaver conflicts for an hour on Connecticut public radio?

Guess what I said. Go ahead, guess.

WEDNESDAY: Beavers to the Rescue
Beavers are suddenly the belle of the ball, getting acclaim for their
ability to improve habitats, grow plants and reverse the effects of climate change. That hasn’t always been the case and in some places, still isn’t. Traders nearly wiped them out hundreds of years ago, Argentina and Chile consider them invasive, and locally, communities are still killing them to make way for development. We’ll explore the fact and fiction behind our perceptions of the beaver. Really, it’s time we see the beaver as a prince instead of a pest!

I had a fun chat with the producer last night and will be ready when they call this morning. The listen live button is to the left on top, and PST will be 10-11 if you want to join in. I know I’m a last minute invite but I’m determined to do a good job representing our beavers. And it makes me smile that the reporter who I wrote about on this website wondering if he’d dropped out of kindergarten because he said beavers live in the dam thought about inviting me.

I guess he remembered me?

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Hurry! Only 12 days left to call WS liars!

   Posted by heidi08 On November - 18 - 2014ADD COMMENTS

Well, I’m sure you’ll have plenty of other opportunities, but this is an important one. Before we get down to work and roll up our sleeves, let’s have dessert first.

Searching for beavers on the Quabbin Reservoir’s restricted Prescott Peninsula

About 20 DCR biologists and volunteers stomped to shake off the cold Sunday morning, standing in a ring outside a small shack on the Prescott Peninsula as Clark set the plan for the annual beaver survey. Teams would split off, tramp through the woods to follow their respective streams, take down data on any active beaver lodges, then return to the shack for lunch.

Beavers were non-existent in Massachusetts for more than a century due to hunting and trapping, plus elimination of habitat. After the valley was flooded in the late 1930s, the beavers returned.

Clark said that after the beavers came to the reservoir, the population followed a pattern typical of reintroduction — explosive growth, followed by a crash as the habitat is oversaturated, then a steady leveling off.

No way, are you suggesting that the population actually regulated itself? Without trapping? Even when the Massachusetts voters imposed new restrictions on trapping in 96 and the population was supposed to explode? This is pretty outlandish stuff. Just how long have you been collecting this spurious data?

The first Prescott survey was held in 1952. The survey has been annual since the early 1970s, and some of Sunday’s searchers have returned every year for 30-40 years.

Holy Guacamole Batman. You mean they have 62 years of data on beaver population? And the effect of conibear restriction is somewhere in the middle? You know a statistician worth his pocket calculator could easily whip those numbers into a regression analysis that disproves the accepted lie about beaver population exploding after the new rules were applied? You do know that, right?

Well, maybe the reporter got that wrong. He seemed really distracted by the meat balls. He does say that people aren’t normally allowed in the area because it’s in the watershed. Ahem. (News flash:Every place on this planet is part of a watershed. Just so you know.)

_________________________________________________________

Everyone ready? It’s November 18th so that means you still have 12 days left to tell Wildlife Services that their rodent management plan is ridiculous, oblivious  of the environment or science, and barbaric in the extreme. But those are just my words. You’ll find your own. Here’s Mike Settel from Idaho talking about what’s needed.

In Wildlife Service’s newest justification for ridding us of beaver you can find that bit of humor and others in a recent request for public comment on Wildlife Service’s “Aquatic Rodent” EA for North Carolina.

Don’t attempt to e-mail your comments because, according to their deputy director for environmental compliance Alton Dunaway, receiving comments only by FAX and snail mail will “modernize” their public involvement process. I recommend Faxing comments to (919) 782-4159…However, an e-mail you may find useful is for that of the author, Barbara Schellinger. 

Even though it is a North Carolina document, the rationale proposed sets a precedent for mis-information and obfuscation regarding wildlife management. Please FAX your comments and request that WS includes non-lethal mitigation as beaver solutions, provide current data showing beaver harm salmonids, and prove that beaver dams increase sediment pollution (there are other spurious claims that are suspect or dated, but you should read those for yourselves). Regards, Mike

Thanks Mike for putting us on the right track. Remember, what they get away with in North Carolina will become precedent everywhere. I will share just a little bit of their ignorance, but you should really go read the report for yourself here:

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources guidelines for management of trout stream habitat stated that beaver dams are a major source of damage to trout streams (White and Brynildson 1967, Churchill 1980). Studies that are more recent have documented improvements to trout habitat upon removal of beaver dams. Avery (1992) found that wild brook trout populations improved significantly following the removal of beaver dams from tributaries of some streams. Species abundance, species distribution, and total biomass of non-salmonids also increased following the removal of beaver dams (Avery 1992).

Beaver dams may adversely affect stream ecosystems by increasing sedimentation in streams; thereby, affecting wildlife that depend on clear water such as certain species of fish and mussels. Stagnant water impounded by beaver dams can increase the temperature of water impounded upstream of the dam, which can negatively affect aquatic organisms. Beaver dams can also act as barriers that inhibit movement of aquatic organisms and prevent the migration of fish to spawning areas.

Wow. Give it up for the USDA and author Barbara Schelllinger who was willing to dig back through 47 years of research to find the  completely bogus paper she just knew to be true! This woman is no slacker when it comes to bravely lying about beavers. Good lord, the letter almost writes itself. Although I personally feel that Issue 7 deserves the lion’s share of our attention.

Therefore, the breaching or removal of a beaver dam could result in the degrading or removal of a wetland, if wetland characteristics exist at a location where a beaver dam occurs. The preexisting habitat (prior to the building of the dam) and the altered habitat (areas flooded by impounded water) have different ecological values to the fish and wildlife native to the area. Some species may benefit by the addition of a beaver dam that creates a wetland, while the presence of some species of wildlife may decline. For example, darters listed as federally endangered require fast moving waters over gravel or cobble beds, which beaver dams can eliminate; thus, reducing the availability of habitat. In areas where bottomland forests were flooded by beaver dams, a change in species composition could occur over time as trees die. Flooding often kills hardwood trees, especially when flooding persists for extended periods, as soils become saturated. Conversely, beaver dams could be beneficial to some wildlife, such as river otter, neotropical migratory birds, and waterfowl that require aquatic habitats.

beaver in barDingDingDing! I found the opening! (Well, one of many actually.)  See in their effort to say “it’s a wash, really” beaver dams HELP some species sure, but they HARM others. So getting rid of them is a zero sum game with totally justifiable consequences. Just take the darter for instance!

Darter!

Maybe we’re the only ones that remember there’s this famous case from Alabama in 2008 where the city of Birmingham was sued by The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (among others) for upwards of a million dollars over removing this beaver dam that was protecting  thousands of the rare endangered watercress darters. In the end the case cost the city some 4,000,000 dollars and dragged  out in court over 4 years. Am I ringing any bells, does this sound vaguely familiar?

The city “knew or should have known that removing a beaver dam and surrounding natural structures would potentially disrupt the water level of the Basin and its inhabitants,” the agency claims.

CaptureDam [sic],  this is gonna be fun. If you want to share your letters, send them to me and I’ll make sure they’re visible. I’m sure WS is hoping they can make it all the way to November 30th without hearing from you. Let’s disappoint them, shall we?

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You’ve heard of the lion in winter, right?

   Posted by heidi08 On November - 17 - 2014Comments Off

There’s something about winter that gets sport writers whimsically musing about beavers under the snow. Maybe because its suddenly too cold to go fishing or just because they’re jealous of the fur. I don’t know why, but trust me, it’s a thing. This is from the Idaho Statesman.

Roger Phillips: Idaho snow shows nature that often hides

Still don’t know all the details, but when you see a freshly eaten tree trunk and a slide with packed snow down to the water, it’s obvious there’s been a beaver working within the last few days, and likely at night.

I also saw a U-shaped path between two ponds where the beaver crossed enough times to compact and melt the snow into a little bobsled run.

 Heck, maybe it did it for fun.

 Ahh beaver tracks in the snow! Something Martinez will surely never know. Although I have seen historic photos of a snow covered main street from the early 1900′s. I suppose it could happen! Any more winter musings out there? This is from Toronto.:

 People should envy the beaver for its winter set-up – a cozy cottage stocked with wood, food and family

Beavers, on the other hand, have an enviable winter set-up. The largest rodent in North America, beavers have an impressive work ethic.  Second only to man, beavers change the environment to fill their requirements.

 Unlike man, beavers only build habitat-changing dams when they need to increase water levels for food storage and protection from landlocked predators. And beaver dams don’t only benefit beavers; they also play an important role in creating, maintaining and restoring wetland environments.

 In the winter, the beavers rely on an underwater food cache they stock with wood before temperatures drop. If the water freezes they still have access to food. Beavers mate for life, and have up to six kits a year. The young stick around for two years before leaving to set up their own lodge. That’s plenty of company to ride out a long winter.

Well yes, beaver accommodations are enviable. As is their fur. Which was envied so much they were nearly rendered extinct. I guess the point of your article is that we should all be cozy like beavers? I can’t say I disagree. This last one is from Minnesota and its actually well-written. I can’t think if anything flip to say about Larry Weber’s article which, considering I know the plot, was surprisingly engrossing.

Beaver lodge and pond covered in snow.

A visit to a beaver pond

The resident beaver family has been very busy lately. The woods at the shore is scattered with chewed-off stumps of largely aspens, but I also note some willows and poplars. The fallen trees, mostly small, less than 6 inches in diameter, lay on the forest floor. Once the trees are downed, branches are bitten off and taken to the lodge out in the water. The largest ones are placed on the lodge to add more of a fortification and protection for the beavers.

 Protection is from the winter weather, but also predators. In like manner, some stout branches are used to strengthen the dam. This wood, plus rocks and mud, will make this structure solid and keep the water level of the pond high enough to allow the beavers to swim about as they enter and exit their house from below without being frozen shut. In recent years, I have found a few nearby ponds where winter cold caused the ice to form deep and block the beaver’s swimming and feeding beneath the ice.

 But the beavers are doing much more than fortifying the lodge and dam for winter. They are also preparing a food cache to get through this time.

 All through the warm weather, they were able to swim ashore to cut and snack on nearby arboreal meals. Ice will curtail such activities and so the beavers use saplings and smaller and thinner branches of their cut trees to stash food in preparation for the long freeze-up. Now, in the freedom of no ice, they drag the branches back near the lodge where they store large numbers of this winter food. This cache of twigs and branches will freeze in the ice, but is close enough so that the food is accessible as the beavers swim under the ice and bite off morsels for meals.

It’s a long time from now until the thaw next spring and so the beavers try to store enough woody food to last this whole frozen time. And from what I see here today, in mid-November, they appear to be doing just that.

It is so nice to read something from someone who knows both how to write and how to observe. Thanks Larry. And thanks beavers for being so hardy that you make it bravely through the winter on your own. At the moment we’re just hoping that it will rain a little in California. Then we’ll start worrying about the snowpack.

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Last night, on the footbridge, I loved you best of all!

   Posted by heidi08 On November - 16 - 2014Comments Off
I love her, in the springtime
And I love her in the fall,
But last night, on the back porch
I loved her best of all!

These shocking lyrics reflecting the moral depravity of our youth were published in 1923, some 89 years ago, before video games and ‘R’ movies. Maybe the fact that our house had already been around for a quarter of a century before the song was recorded had something to do with why, when I went to see the beavers last night, this was the soundtrack I heard in my head.

You see, our kit, (the 2014) model, has been living at Ward Street since August. And I’ve been getting more and more worried about his truant little runaway self. I talked with our experts, who had not seen it before but told me not to worry, advice impossible to follow. Beavers are very social animals, and they need face time with their parents learning beaver things for upwards of 24 months before they’re ready to hitch off on their own.

So guess what I saw from the footbridge last night, with Lory and Jon?

Our twentieth kit, climbing on mom’s tail, crunching on snacks, with 2 or three other beavers! (Maybe even dad?) Swimming, chewing, whining and acting like his little kitself again! I can’t tell you how much lighter our three moods were as we walked eventually back to our cars. The beaver family is together and everything’s right with the world.

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Now that we’re all in good moods, I will show you this treat that I stumbled upon yesterday. Look who has a new website! Now there are three great beaver resources to share with folks who want new ways to solve problems!

Capture

  We are a company dedicated to protecting our land and infrastructure, as well as allowing for creative remedies that improve habitats and end wasteful killing and spending. Our technology and practices are state-of-the-art, and have been employed domestically as well as internationally to mitigate the growing problems presented by the beaver population.

Finally! Skip Lisle’s website has hit the internet(s) running! Complete with great information and awesome photos showing off his skill. Go explore the sight, its lots of fun. I couldn’t be happier, although it was a little surprising to find this:

Skip Lisle offers that rare combination of “can-do” competence, creativity, and courtesy. He ably tamed our beavers with promptness and professionalism. Our California town, Martinez, still fondly remembers the man from Vermont, and his solution to save our Downtown!

Mark Ross
Vice Mayor
Martinez, California, USA

A testimonial from Mark Ross and nothing whatsoever from Worth A Dam? I suppose a vice mayor is slightly better advertising than a child psychologist, but it’s silly to overlook the beavers’ de facto press secretary. Well, the cat’s outta the bag now, I made sure everyone saw this yesterday, its on our beaver links, and in the future I will make sure that everyone knows your skills have a great website to promote them!

Too much good news?Guess what arrived in the mail yesterday. Approval from the Martinez Community Foundation for our grant application for the festival VIII art project! They paid 100% of the amount requested. No fooling, money from Martinez, for the beaver festival. I’m still pinching myself.

CaptureThank you Martinez Community Foundation for helping us teach children about ecosystems at the beaver festival! And thank you artist FRO Butler who will be doing the lion’s share of the work, prepping and painting the canvas, purchasing the materials, and supervising the eager artists. I can’t wait till the whole thing comes together and we can use it at our displays in the future!

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