Oklahoma admits beavers help ducks….

   Posted by heidi08 On May - 28 - 2015ADD COMMENTS


Waterfowl less problematic at airport, despite persistent beaver pond

Waterfowl around the airport are a direct consequence of beavers. A shallow stream runs on the west side of the runway’s north end. Beavers have dammed a culvert, which handles overflow. The stream is now a pond that attracts ducks and geese. A few teal were present Wednesday.

 “We’ve torn that dam out a couple of times, but the beavers keep rebuilding it,” Blish said. “We will need to get them out of there using trapping measures. We’ve been waiting for the rain to let up, but we are going to work on it this weekend.”

 The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation issues licenses for nuisance wildlife removal. A Westville contractor will remove the beavers at the airport. 

And so it was that the state that reports almost no earthly use for beavers admits that they help waterfowl as a reason to eliminate them. I believe that’s called a ‘mixed blessing’ but at least it emphasizes their ecological role.

Remember that our friend in Tulsa the Skunk Whisperer wanted to install a flow device after he got Mike’s DVD and couldn’t find a single person in the state who wanted beavers on their property even when he promised to do it for free.

Rusty Cohn in Napa was waiting patiently for the big reappearance of their new kit last night, and was frustrated to have a crowd and chatter instead of the hushed watching he wished for. Still he managed to get this at 8:30 which is pretty adorable.

It made me think how smoothly adult beavers enter the water, like a silk scarf being pulled into a tube. With no effort at all. And how gracelessly young kits enter the water, flinging themselves into the abyss as if something could go wrong any minute. Since diving is the most challenging thing kits do, I’m sure it often does go wrong. They are very buoyant, and getting their little floating selves  underwater takes practice.

They hurl themselves into the water and hope it stays open long enough for them to pass through.

There is an art,  or rather, a knack to flying. The knack lies in learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss.

Douglas Adams:The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy



Congratulations Napa, it’s a BEAVER!

   Posted by heidi08 On May - 27 - 2015ADD COMMENTS

Rusty sent this very excitedly last night. He was thrilled to meet this youngster for the first time, and believe me when I say I know just how he feels.

tail kit napa

New kit Napa: Rusty Cohn

napa kit

New kit Napa: Rusty Cohn








Just a reminder that we were lucky enough in Martinez to have kits with our old mom four years. And this will be the new mom’s fourth year too. We’ve had four kits twice, three kits twice, and one kit twice. I think that means this year the odds are in favor of having two kits. Don’t you?

dates1 It’s amazing to me to think that we’ve had our new mom almost as long as we had our old mom. And also to notice that our new mom is a little more attentive and protective of the kits than our original. They’re supervised longer and stay in the lodge longer. But it goes without saying that we will always love our original mom of the special tail best.

Because she was our first.

Wisconsin’s handicapped fish

   Posted by heidi08 On May - 26 - 2015ADD COMMENTS

disabled fish

Apparently the badger state is asking for more public input on its very draconian beaver management plan. I want to review it but can see I already wrote about it pretty scathingly in 2011. I’ll repost here, but the two added things I learned by watching the excruciating webinars was that WDNR believes their state is exceptional. Even though trout are helped by beaver dams in the west, it’s different in Wisconsin. Nobody can explain why exactly, but beaver dams and trout CANNOT coexist in the state. So obviously one has to go.

(And you know which one.)

They believe that the beaver population has gone UP since historic times. They actually do a helicopter flyover every three years in the northern part of the state and count beaver sign per square mile. This inflated method has given them an estimate of about 50,000 beavers in the state, or about 100 per square mile of water. Which they say is dreadfully more than it was historically but less than it was before they started killing them.

Oh, and just in case you wondered, history starts in 1900.

DNR seeks input on final beaver management guidelines

The Wisconsin DNR wants to know if it has the right plans for beavers in the state. The final public feedback period is open for the new beaver management plan.

 The document will guide decisions on beavers through 2025. The final draft touches on topics like population, habitat, and damage management. The current draft recommends keeping beaver populations mostly stable in the state.

Public input for the final beaver management plan is open through June 22. The DNR will also host a public meeting on June 16 from 6-8 p.m. at the DNR Service Center in Rhinelander to take comments.

 That’s right, there’s zero discussion of the native population and how many beaver were there before the fur trade came. Did you know the french were trapping Wisconsin as early as 1600? Gee I wonder how the natives lived off trout before then, with all those icky beavers ruining their creeks and no one to control them. Never mind. Since they’ve been killing beavers in the state the trout population has thrived. Of course it couldn’t be for any OTHER reason. Like water quality regulations for example…

Beaver Management Plan Update Webinar from UWEXNaturalResources on Vimeo.

Yesterday I was ranting at the computer watching the above and this, but today I’m just going to rerun what I wrote 4 years ago on the subject. They obviously learned nothing since then. If you want to give Wisconsin the benefit or your knowledge, your much needed wisdom  goes here:


“The Badger State” has decided to update its beaver policy. See in the 80′s they counted a beaver population of 200,000 and did some research that found that removing beaver dams from streams was the single best thing Wisconsin could do for its trout, so they’ve been doing so at such a great rate that there are only about 80,000 beavers left in the state. Is that too few, they wonder? Did we do TOO good a job? Mind you, they’re review of the policy isn’t prompted by any new reading of the research, or comprehension of the trickle down effect of fewer beavers on wetland ecology – but because (this is a quote, I’m not kidding)

“Certain user groups are concerned that the recreational opportunity provided by beaver is not what they’d like to see,”

“User Groups” as in TRAPPERS. There aren’t enough beaver to enjoyably kill. Maybe we should change our regulations to encourage a few more so that our sporty sportsmen have fewer empty snares. They are busily having meetings with the public to get input about attitudes towards beavers and soothe the ruffled feathers – er, scales – of the Trout Unlimited folk who are certain the beaver mean harm to trout.

Steve Avelallemant, of Rhinelander, is the fisheries supervisor for the DNR’s Northern Region, and he admitted that beaver dams can be a problem, especially on trout streams in northern Wisconsin.


“They (beaver and trout) just cannot exist together for a host of reasons,” said Avelallemant, who helped shape the state’s original beaver plan. “Out West, beavers are a good thing for trout streams. In Wisconsin, not so much.

Beaver and trout just can’t exist together!And since trout are non-negotiable, beavers must be limited! Never mind that up until they were eradicated before the 1800′s the state used to have millions more beaver. Interestingly, before we eliminated the local natives they had lived off plentiful trout streams for 2000 years and never complained of the shortage. Never mind history. Never mind about all that “fancy-pants” research that says beavers are good for trout. This is WISCONSIN. Our streams are different. Our trout are different. We have our OWN research. Just look.

Well, this looks interesting. Go get some coffee. That’s a pretty long study period. Let’s take a look at what it says, shall we?

Okay, no skimming allowed. you HAVE to read this. Beaver dams raise the water temperature, and ruin channels and bring in riff-raff fish that eat up all the insects AND attract wildlife that eat up all the trout. Wow. And most of the research cited is from the Eisenhower era. So we know it must be true.

The study goes on to review several different methods of stream restoration and to compare these methods by region around the state. Marinette county seems to be the segment designated as the no-beaver zone and USDA kindly removed all the dams (and beavers) in these areas. Then the measures were taken again after the streams had time to get used to their new no-beaverness. Guess what! The beaverless streams did better!

I know I’M excited! Don’t I look excited? I was so excited I wrote them a four page paper in response, which if you’re the kind of person that cares you can read here. In the meantime I will tell you that I got very interested in this particular “region” which was the only part of the study devoted to beaver killing and showing stellar results. Since I’ve read beaver research in the post-Eisenhower period, I was very curious about their findings. I hunted around the internet looking for possible confounding variables – and found that the nearby Menominee River was the proud home of the Ansul chemical company that made Sufur Dioxide and was sued for releasing Arsenic into the water for around 50 years. Around that time of this study the EPA busily was forcing them to clean up the ground water and build protective berms over the poisonous sediment. Hmm.

Could THAT have anything to do with trout health ya think?

So while I was busy smacking my forehead and reliving the plot of Silkwood, Rick went hunting for data on trout and beaver. He found this lovely restocking guide from the Vermont Fish & Wildlife conservation group. See Vermont’s worried about its native trout too, so they’re encouraging watershed groups to put in some baby ones (called fry) to keep the streams going. They have some GREAT advice about how to do it. Check it out.

So apparently if you live in opposite ends of the country in Washington or Vermont beaver dams are good for trout. But if you have the misfortune to live in Wisconsin they’re just AWFUL. So awful in fact that only scientific papers from 50 years ago are courageous enough to trumpet their disaster. DNR has a lovely little survey asking for public input on beavers, with searching, unbiased questions like to “how badly do beavers ruin your fishing season? very badly – not sure – or only slightly badly” And “on a scale of 1-5 how much do you dislike beavers when they viciously chew down your trees and flood your property”. Not a push-poll in any way, they are respected scientists! Perhaps a few readers of this website will give that survey the careful responses it deserves.

How does California feel about beaver dams and trout or salmon? Well Brock Dolman sent this picture yesterday of the fourth annual release of 170 adult Coho into Salmon Creek Watershed in Sonoma County which he made sure to photograph along side a beaver puppet to make his point.

Could Wisconsin possibly maintain its stubborn position in the face of all this data to the contrary? You know badgers are famous for not giving up even losing battles. Reportedly, their skeletons are sometime found with their jaws still locked together in combat. I guess they don’t call it the “Badger” state for nothing.

Oh and Happy Solstice, by the way! Since today’s another no burn day you can’t have a fire all night to keep up your spirits on the longest night of the year, but light a candle anyway and dream about new possibilities for beavers coming soon!

Neighbors that are good for you, vs good neighbors.

   Posted by heidi08 On May - 25 - 2015ADD COMMENTS

It was Mary Obrien who inspired this graphic, back during her pod cast interview when she said abandon beaver sites were like ghost towns.

Ghost townNow it looks like the National Trust in Scotland got the memo!

NTS backs re-introduction of beavers to Scotland

Despite acknowledging that they’re not always “good neighbours”, the National Trust for Scotland (NTS) has become the latest organisation to add its voice to calls for wild beavers to be re-introduced to the country.

In a policy statement published today, NTS describes the Eurasian Beaver as a “a key element of our native fauna” and says its introduction will bring “many significant benefits to Scotland’s countryside, in terms of restoring native ecosystems, contributing to biodiversity, enhancing natural wetland processes, and promoting tourism”.

 ”The beaver is a crucial element in our countryside which plays an important role in the conservation of other wildlife,” said NTS’s Nature Advisor Lindsay Mackinlay. “Conservationists call it a keystone species because its presence has such a major impact on the natural environment and its wildlife. Scotland is currently much the poorer without it.

Hooray for Scotland! And hooray for the free beavers on the river Tay and all their supporters. This was truly a major accomplishment at almost every level; research, outreach, education and public subversion. Honestly I couldn’t be happier for them, and even thought it’s not yet official, its looking like the anglers will have to put up with the flat-tails.

Our own beavers were kinder to us last night, with four visible including Dad and Jr. We were treated to a full show because there was a newish mom with 11 baby ducks, a turtle, two green herons roosting in the tree, and a fair amount of beavers! It’s wonderful to be back in the season of life again, but we’re all impatient for kits.

Rusty sent this photo Saturday, which Peter Moyle was kind enough to ID as a large mouth bass getting eaten by a night heron. He said he is always happy when a native predator eats a nonnative one.

NH with fish

Night Heron eating large mouth bass: Rusty Cohn

The importance of being semi-arid

   Posted by heidi08 On May - 24 - 2015ADD COMMENTS

Georgia reader BK alerted me to this article in PHYS.org on a recently understood hero in climate change management. Apparently it’s not just for rainforests anymore.

Savannahs slow climate change

Tropical rainforests have long been considered the Earth’s lungs, sequestering large amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and thereby slowing down the increasing greenhouse effect and associated human-made climate change. Scientists in a global research project now show that the vast extensions of semi-arid landscapes occupying the transition zone between rainforest and desert dominate the ongoing increase in carbon sequestration by ecosystems globally, as well as large fluctuations between wet and dry years. This is a major rearrangement of planetary functions.

An international study released this week, led by Anders Ahlström, researcher at Lund University and Stanford University, shows that semi-arid ecosystems—savannahs and shrublands—play an extremely important role in controlling carbon sinks and the climate-mitigating ecosystem service they represent.

Tropical rainforests are highly productive, and this means that they take up a lot of carbon dioxide, but rainforests are crowded places with little room to fit in more plants to do more photosynthesis and to store carbon. In addition, the typical moist, hot weather conditions are ideal for growth and do not change much from year to year.

In savannahs it is different. As productivity increases there is room to fit in more trees whose growing biomass provides a sink, or store, for carbon sequestered from the atmosphere. In addition, savannahs spring to life in wetter years, causing large fluctuations in carbon dioxide uptake between wet and dry years. Large enough, Ahlström and colleagues show, to control the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

So we need the rain forests, but it’s the returning wetlands that really make a difference. Because of the sudden bloom that comes when a semi-arid region turns green. Gee, are there any semi-arid regions in California? Survey says yes. But what’s the point of discussing it on this website? Because a few well-placed  beaver dams could easily trigger this seasonal greening.

CDFW says that California is one of the few places where five major climate types occur in close proximity. Here, the Desert, Cool Interior, Highland, and Steppe climates border a smaller region of Mediterranean climate. Here’s their map of the different zones. You can see that the semi-arid regions stretch across the central valley from Stockton to Bakersfield and everywhere in between,

CaptureThese dry, warm areas are the places where a tree in standing near the house really make a difference to your family’s comfort. It turns out that a bunch of trees, bushes and foliage on the riparian really matter to the carbon we need to get rid of. So let’s just look at our depredation map and see how California is treating these bounty-makers in semi-arid regions. Something tells me it isn’t going to be good.

depredation permits in caUh-oh lots of dark blue in the modesto region. I guess those semi-arid places got even more arid shortly after those beaver were killed.  Oh well, it’s not like Climate change is real or anything. Besides they were interfering with the landscaping.

Once again beaver heroes are prevented from solving the problem they’re uniquely equipped to repair. And it’s another dry Sunday in California.

Words fail me. How about about a rhyme and graphic?





beaver limrick

 12 Angry Beavers


Tails in the City

   Posted by heidi08 On May - 23 - 2015Comments Off

the missing pieceI found this picture when hunting around for an underwater shot of a beaver dam and just couldn’t resist. (I actually just noticed there IS an actual beaver on the right, but it’s still fun.) Apparently there are sadly no split shots on the internet of beaver dams, so someone please fix that, okay?

Speaking of missing things our beavers were missing last night, we saw no one come from the footbridge, one from the old dam and last year’s kit blithely hanging around ward street like the old days. I have to think its tidal. But it made me wonder if mom hasn’t moved her kits again. And where would she move them? I guess the old lodge next to the creek monkey.

We know she likes to move them around. That’s why I was able to get this two years ago.

Beaver kits are like easter eggs. You have to hunt around and find them yourself!

I saw this video posted on Facebook by our Idaho beaver friends. I notice when I first watched it a little ‘caution float’ as the beaver seemed to sense the photographer. My observation was confirmed by the tail slap that followed. That and this photo got me thinking about tail slaps in general. It was posted by photographer Lee-Anne Carver in Canada and is a beautiful look at the windup. This is the poise before the actual slap surrounded by unbelievable colors. She’s a really talented photographer.


Getting ready for the tail slap: Lee-Anne Carver

I was remembering when I filmed my first tail slap, a million years ago. It must have been this time of year in 2007, which means I knew nothing about beavers at the time. I went down to film the beavers in the morning and saw a huge otter sitting on the old lodge. I wasn’t even sure at the time what it was. A young beaver came and started slapping and slapping until that otter left. I remember I counted that he slapped 19 times, and was able to film the very last one, which is why you hear me say THAT, I GOT in this video.

It made me think that it was about time for Rusty to film his first tail slap in Napa. I guess my powers of beaver prediction are considered pretty honed in some circles, but even I was surprised to receive this from him last night.

It all happens so fast I thought a little slowing down would help. When you sail past the equator they give you a baptism with salt water. When you film your first tailslap you just get this. Congratulations Rusty!

World Wildlife Federation promotes Beavers

   Posted by heidi08 On May - 22 - 2015Comments Off

CaptureSara Moore is a Sonoma-based climate writer and blogs for the WWF climate report. Guess what she decided to talk about in this issue?

California: The Rebeavering

The California case for beaver reintroduction is picking up steam.

Specifically, the case is being made for the benefits of beaver dams and their ponds to California’s high Sierra, where a disappearing snowpack is threatening the state’s summer water supply—and overall economy.

California faces peculiar beaver-reintroduction barriers not faced by other western states where people are starting to think of beaver ponds as a landscape restoration and surface water retention tool, like Arizona, Colorado, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming. And drought-plagued California might gain particular benefit from a new surface water retention tool.

Sara goes on to do a fairly deft recap of the beaver nativity issue and the research we did to prove it, and then even makes room for one particular city that decided to live with beavers.

Although individual cases of conflict can be solved (as they did famously in Martinez, CA, now the home of an annual Beaver Festival), there is a lack of information in favor of beavers as a way to solve problems. 

Thanks for the mention, but I think you’re wrong about missing information. We have tons of research on beaver benefits to salmon and riparian and carbon. What we’re missing is broadcasting and persuasion. There was a time I thought that more information would change peoples thinking, but now I realize that when people say ‘more research is needed’ they’re usually just stalling or looking for funding. There are about 20 people in the entire state whose minds could be changed by research about beavers. The rest are going to learn by watching, seeing, or getting public pressure. Come to Martinez and see for yourself.

The article ends on a cheery note:

So, the CDFW is cautiously showing interest in what the beaver believers have to say. There appears to be momentum behind locating and evaluating populations for possible increased protection. Sierra mountain meadows and their far-downstream neighbors, thirsty ranches and farms, may eventually see the benefits.

Hurray for beavers! Hooray for Brock and hurray for WWF. We need folks all over to be seriously thinking about this issue, at this starts the conversation nicely. If people want to learn more Sara has a great list of references at the end for further information and this introduces folks to the issues  very well. When you beaver photo gets into the WWF calendar I’ll consider it a real victory!


Can I complain now?

(I spoke with Sara back in April and our conversation was kind of unsettling. Of course I referred her to all the sources named in the article, and gave her background about all the states that allowed relocation. To tell the truth though, I’m surprised Martinez made it in at all, because she really wasn’t interested in solving beaver problems. She was interested in Relocation and couldn’t understand why I didn’t think it was the best idea EVER. As you can see, Worth A Dam, or my actual name appear nowhere in the piece, even when she refers to the papers we wrote on which I was second author (grr) – I guess I should be happy to get a link, and several links to articles on this website, an information source apparently so useful it isn’t even mentioned.)

This is me shaking it off. (Video of grooming beaver from Rusty Cohn at Tulocay beaver pond in Napa.)