Telling photos, indeed!

   Posted by heidi08 On September - 30 - 2014ADD COMMENTS


What happens when you spy on a beaver?

 “Well, there were signs that beaver were nearby, the lodge and bite marks on the trees,” said one girl.

 Taku Lake’s shore is punctuated by tree stumps gnawed to a chisel by some very busy beavers as they stockpile trees just under the water’s surface for the winter.

 “We saw water moving around the lodge, so we knew there could be beavers there,” said another student. In addition to these astute observations of beaver habitat, most students reported having seen a beaver before, so they already had an image in their minds of what the camera might reveal.

They attached the camera to a likely tree in a promising spot. Students returned a few days later to find the camera missing – as well as the entire tree. During the night, a beaver had gnawed down the tree and dragged it into the lake. Yes, the beaver absconded with the tree with the camera attached. Luckily the camera was waterproof and was secured to the tree with a yellow bungee cord. The teachers were able to retrieve the camera and the images taken during the night.

Ha ha ha. That beaver chewed down your spy tree! I bet the kids loved it! The charming article talks about how it also photographed a fox sniffing the lodge and taught the kids about predators, prey and habitat. The cameras are provided by fish and game and can be checked out by classrooms for 2 week periods. Then the photos can be analyzed by your team of 1st graders. Isn’t that neat? Hat tip to Rusty from Napa for sending this article my way.

Which reminds me that beaver believers posted this photo last night to say their tshirts are ready.

10523319_335664586594583_3592844082196327232_nI don’t think I’ve seen a more adorable photo. I learned this weekend that the semester in the west students actually silk screened them themselves! Phil brought one for me and it will be a perfect addition to my rapidly expanding beaver wardrobe. Mine says aptly “Leave it to me.”

And finally here’s a headline you don’t see nearly often enough!

Police search for beaver dam buster

Police are on the hunt for a vandal who destroyed a beaver dam last month near the Pontiac Golf Club north of Gatineau.

 MRC des Collines-de-l’Outaouais said the man also damaged a sign on Aug. 13 at Ricard Lake and stole a surveillance camera. Police, however, said they were still able to obtain photographs of the suspect.

That’s right, like most criminals he got cocky – making that one fatal error that will lead to his eventual capture. If he had just destroyed the dam no one in their right mind would care (except us). Since he stole the surveillance camera to do it the police are looking for him.

I’m reminded of a tale from a famous psychologist who interviewed criminals for forensic cases. He was talking to a successful bank robber who would have gotten away with millions but the highway patrol picked him up on the freeway. He was driving north to Canada.

Incredulously, the psychologist asked him, “You robbed that bank in LA. You could have been in mexico in half an hour. Why were you trying to escape to Canada?”

He replied, “Well, doc. I don’t speak spanish.

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Gone but never forgotten…

   Posted by heidi08 On September - 29 - 2014ADD COMMENTS

Yesterday morning we drove with Mary back from st. George up to Cedar city, cold and crisp at 6000 feet. We checked into our very delightful hotel and tried to recover from our somewhat less delightful hotel the nights before. We may be out of state, but are certainly not forgotten.  I received this video from Robin Ellison in Napa who just wanted to verify that this was definitely mother beaver. See for yourself and you can guess what I answered.


Then I got an email from Vladimir Dinets, a Russian born zoologist and the author of this book who had  gotten my name from Suzy Esterhaus after hearing there were beavers in the bay area. He wanted to include them in his new book and  wondered where to see our beavers. He came down Saturday night and was thrilled with his immediate success.

Thanks a lot for the tip! We visited the site last night, and saw at least 3 different beavers under the footbridge. They are amazingly tame! I was surprised to see them in a place with almost no trees, but we didn’t explore the area much. I’m certainly coming back for a better look! What’s the best time to see the young of the year?

Score another point for the most famous beavers on the planet!  I will try to see if we can show him where the baby is hanging out these days.

Then I got an great summary from Mike Settell of their Beaver Dam Jam in Idaho. I want pictures but this will have to do for now.

To Heidi and all of our Flat-tailers:

 We did it!  We pulled off the first annual Beaver Dam Jam (Idaho)! “Thank you” x 9!  To those who weren’t able to come, fear not, there is always next year.  To those who were able to make the transit:  Great time, eh?    We even had a belted kingfisher show up for the Mink Creek tour, on queue!

 Thank you especially those who bid on auctions items… you helped put us over the top.  If you have not paid or picked up your item, please e-mail or call me 232-0825 

Thank you to everyone who helped and made this a success.  We could not have pulled this off without the support of some very special friends who had faith in our cause….that beaver are worth more to us than the $15 pelt.

There’s an update on the explorer of the world’s largest beaver dam that makes me a little less irritated with him. Someone obviously sat him down and explained what tail-slapping means.

Meet the first person to explore the world’s largest beaver dam

“It came out and started slapping its tail to let the other beavers know that something was wrong, and to stay away,” 

But my favorite part is the Cree Elder who was the only one willing to give him a boat ride and told him how to mark the area he wanted to be picked up by chopping a willow.

his quixotic quest earning him a few laughs and polite declines—before finding a 79-year-old Cree elder willing to make the trip. Mark told him to come back for him in seven days, but worried about how the man would know where to pick him up amid the tall reeds blocking the lake. The elder, said Mark, gave him an axe to cut down a willow tree. It was, for the otherwise fearless Mark, a real moment of panic. “ ‘That’s my extrication plan? A willow?’ ” 

And finally a shout out to our old friends at Castoro Cellars who decided to donate 10,000 or the proceeds of beaver stock to education. Even after they donated tickets to us! It just goes to show that beaver people are GOOD people. Drink up!



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Wondrously familiar

   Posted by heidi08 On September - 28 - 2014ADD COMMENTS

This is what two mostly damp beaver advocates look like at a Utah festival, On the left is Mary Obrien of the Grand Canyon trust, and on the right is me looking dazed to be sitting at the first booth at the Utah festival where a bright young college student tells you to take a treasure hunt and find the 5 ways that beavers help wildlife. Then come back wih your card filled out, paint a tail, and decorate a beaver-shaped gingerbread cookie!

It was raining the first time I gave my talk indoors at the nature center. So there were lots of folks who wanted to be dry and listen. Thank goodness it stopped soon and folks turned up anyway.  At one point I sat by the pond and gave an interview to their tech crew about our experience, the student asking the questions was actually from Danville! Later we went down to the festival proper where we heard about one little boy who had had gotten the notice at school but his mom said “I’m sure it was probably cancelled with the storm”. He convinced her when he somberly said, “But we have to go check“.

Just in case you think I was exaggerating about the storm, the big empty stone-lined waterway around the nature center was RUSHING with muddy water that day. We were told that it probably rains 2 days a year in St. George and that summer temperatures commonly reach 115.

One great idea we want to try at home was a beaver lodge the children made – with the orignal frame of a dome tent covered with willow that kids added branches to to make a beaver house. They were running in and out hiding from ‘otters’ later in the day. Mary had also boldly invited the trappers association who displayed pelts for the children to feel. One surprising trapper commented, “People just don’t realize how good beavers are for streams and wildlife”. Which might have blown my mind if I was not already through the looking glass.

I gave the talk again in the afternoon and then came back to the hotel while they cleaned up. That night Mary picked us up and brought us to their camp sight in Sand Hallow where 15 tents circled their giant field station horse trailer-with-sattrlite dish. The cooking crew made us an awesome dinner of jumbalaya which we ate in a giant circle under the stars. The looming clouds were on the opposite bank and kindly stayed away from us.


After dinner there was a single darting bat, a crescent moon, and looming stars overhead. The great arc of 21 young students of semester in the west introduced where they were from and their majors, then said the favorite part of their day. It was amazing to hear their stories and did you even know there were political majors like environmental politics or environmental humanities? Then  Mary asked me to say a little about the research we did on the historic prevalence papers. A huge gust of wind made my teeth chatter too much to talk anymore and fortunately caused the pages of ‘data’ to blow away so that everyone scrambled to retrieve it. Then we said our goodnights and thank you’s and dashed back to the car where Phil brought us back to the hotel.

This morning, Mary picks us up and brings us back to Cedar Springs, from where we will fly home tomorrow morning. The Whitman crew will head off for North for a 5 hour drive to their final camp, where they will end their journey and take finals before heading back to Walla Walla.

Dinner under the stars with tomorrows smart, talented environmental advocates was definitely the best part of the journey. But the woman who introduced herself at my talk as a docent from Yellowstone who does the beaver talks there was definitely a close second.

Then there was the child who explained he knew why beavers were important because (and I quote) “they make honey” 

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Utah Files: Day 1

   Posted by heidi08 On September - 27 - 2014ADD COMMENTS

Thunder, lightening, billowing black clouds and giant red canyons. We just made it to the hotel before the sky broke loose. Meawhile we heard about the awesome work of Mary’s students in the just the last week and a half. Surveying mountain goats, counting aspen trees and sampling soil. All of which is reported and presented to agencies. This morning we”re off to the soggy beaver festival where I will talk to any wet stragglers who brave the storm. At the moment it sounds like drums outside. Stay tuned.

Tell me again what other people do on their days off?


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Southern Utah beaver festival enlightens public about the creatures.

Beaver Festival Brings Awareness To Community

A festival meant to create awareness about beavers and the important role they play in the ecosystem is scheduled to take place in southern Utah on Sept. 27.

Lynn Chamberlain with the Division of Wildlife Resources said the Leave it to Beavers festival seeks to debunk some myths about the industrious critters. Contrary to popular belief, Chamberlain said beaver habitats extend far beyond the mountains and he says they are not merely destructive creatures.

“They slow down flood waters—we’ve certainly seen some of that this year with some of the heavy rains that we’ve had—and they filter out a lot of the sediment that would be going down the flood waters also,” said Chamberlain. “So, they slow it down and help to build meadows, they build habitat for other wildlife species—not only aquatic ones but those that live around the riparian area, around the pond.”

The festival is the second of its kind in Utah. Chamberlain said it is moving this year to the Tonaquint Nature Center in St. George to reach a different audience.

The Beaver festival in St. George is 200 miles away from the 2012 one in Escalante. I can’t even imagine what it would be like for us to move the next festival to Redding or Fresno. I guess if you are partnering with Fish and Wildlife their reach can help span the distance. But it’s hard to imagine what it would take to pull that off. Of course those areas both NEED beaver festivals. But they’re going to have to generate their own. I’m tapped.

(I sure wish WE had ever gotten a headline like that on public radio.)

Oh and guess what happens tonight? The beaver dam jam in Idaho. That’s right, it’s an entire beaver weekend in the western states.

10382725_804717179573295_3153313975239790248_nBeaver Dam Jam–A Music event to support beaver conservation in Idaho

10647022_817296904981989_2965568295390226904_nOur good friend Mike Settell has been working round the clock with our friends at The Watershed Guardians to pull this off. He’s got public transportation bringing folks to the event, and will use the bus ride to educate en route. This is rough and tumble country where folks like their firearms and their hunting and trapping. Mike is trying to get folks to pay attention to the impact beavers have on wildlife populations. Attendees purchase a ‘beaver bead’ from near by stores and wear it to enter. How cool is that?

I know everyone will think saving beavers once upon a time was easy for us because we’re in liberal tree-huggin California. But at last count there are 482 municipalities in the golden state. And exactly one of them  has saved beavers.

This is the first weekend in the history of the world that will host TWO BEAVER CONSERVATION EVENTS in two different states. And either of them may not have ever happened in the first place if it hadn’t been for Martinez.  I don’t know about you but that makes me a little dizzy. Something to ponder with awe as I’m hurling across the sky in a metal box to the first one.

And on a personal note, I was feeling worried about messing up in Utah, when I thought of this amazing song from Quidam. Remember what they say: fortes fortuna adiuvat.

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Put up – Or shut up!

   Posted by heidi08 On September - 25 - 2014Comments Off

CaptureGovernment plans to capture ‘wild’ Devon beavers unlawful, says Friends of the Earth

Friends of the Earth has written to the Environment Secretary Liz Truss to warn that plans to capture a beaver family on the River Otter in Devon “may be unlawful”.

However Friends of the Earth claims that Britain forms part of the “natural range” of beavers and that removing them could be against EU laws governing protected species.

 “Beavers belong in England, and are an essential part of our ecosystems – Government plans to trap them should be scrapped,” said Friends of the Earth Campaigner Alasdair Cameron. “Beavers bring huge benefits to the environment – reducing flooding and boosting fish stocks and biodiversity. Rather than try and get rid of them, we should be thrilled to have them back in our landscape.”

Nice! Friends of the Earth are are new best friends! (Bonus points: Their acronym and website is FOE.) This report was on the radio in the UK this morning and all over the press. Let’s hope it throws a little monkey wrench in the spokes of this dastardly plan. I mean another one. In addition to harboring evil intent, DEFRA appears to suck at their job. No beavers caught yet, and their success at badger killing is equally laughable.  Fingers crossed the EU threat will just tip the scale into oblivion.


litbDYesterday was full of last minute preparations trying to track down Mary Obrien to confirm that I am really honest-to-goodness going to Utah Friday to present at their “Leave it to beavers” festival on Saturday. She had said someone would pick me up from the airport but, in my usual precise way,  I needed to know WHO and WHEN I was presenting. She hadn’t responded to my emails and I wasn’t sure I could talk Jon into getting into an airplane without more details.

Since I wasn’t able to get a hold of her, I called her friends and co-workers and generally sounded alarmed enough that I got a call back last night from a very exhausted Mary in the field. Everything was fine. Yes, it was really happening. Children had gotten notices at school and it was on the radio.


I apparently am presenting at 11:00 and 2:00 on Saturday. Mary or Phil Brick will pick us up, and her students from Whitman will make us dinner that night and I’ll talk to them about our historic prevalence papers and how we did that research. Hopefully we’ll get to see a little of St. George before we fly home Monday, after spreading the beaver gospel in a third state!

So I guess that’s what I’ll be doing this weekend.


ST. GEORGE – The Utah Department of Wildlife Resources is holding its annual festival, “Leave it to Beavers,” aimed at educating the community about beavers and other wildlife on Saturday at the Tonaquint Nature Center, 1851 South Dixie Drive, in St. George.

 The event, which will run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., will feature a myriad of family friendly activities and opportunities to learn about the benefits beavers provide to the local environment and ecosystem, said Lynn Chamberlain, conservation and outreach manager for the DWR’s southern region, Lynn Chamberlain said.

 “There are more beavers on the Virgin River and its tributaries than most people realize,” Chamberlain said.

 Previously held in Boulder, this annual festival has been moved to St. George to provide the local community a chance to understand and appreciate this industrious and charismatic river creature, Chamberlain said.

 This is a free event for the whole family, she said, and everyone is invited to come out and spend the day.

 Event details
Where: Tonaquint Nature Center, 1851 South Dixie Drive, St. George
When: Saturday, Sept. 27, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Cost: Free
Online: Leave it to Beavers

Something tells me the Martinez Beavers are going to be right at home in St. George.

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In the Shadow of greatness, there oft Stupid lies

   Posted by heidi08 On September - 24 - 2014Comments Off

I’m still scratching my head about this article on Port Orchard in Kitsap county. The area actually borders Kings and Snohomish counties which boast the most enduring record of progressive beaver management in the world. They are literally in throwing distance of better solutions everydirection they face. I recognize the reporters name because I’ve written about her glowing intelligent reporting on beavers before. And now this.

Persistent beavers frustrate county workers

PORT ORCHARD — It’s one dam problem that keeps coming back.

 Kitsap County crews have been battling beavers for more than a month below the Long Lake Bridge near Port Orchard.

 The persistent beavers keep rebuilding a dam, which the county removed last week for the third time since Aug. 8, according to Tony Carroll, with the county roads division.

 Beavers can cause roads to flood, endangering drivers.

Trapping and removing the animals has been the county’s answer, until its certified, locally contracted trapper was hired by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, leaving the county without a trapper.

 Now, the county is asking the department to help handle the beavers with a $15,000 contract through the end of the year.

So the previous county trapper loved his work so much that he got hired by USDA and now they are subcontracting the work out with a 15,000 a year contract. Hey, I bet you didn’t know that the old name for Kitsap county used to be SLAUGHTER county. Coincidence?

 Typically, the county has about two or three beaver incidents a year when it can trap and remove beavers, according to Andrew Nelson, Kitsap County public works director.

So 5000 dollars a family? That’s your budget? Maybe I’m in the wrong line of work. I couldn’t believe the article didn’t at least mention flow devices, and then I got to this.

Beaver deceivers, specialized fencing to deter beavers and allow fish to migrate, have been placed in some areas to prevent the animals from building dams.

The county and Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe teamed up in 2010 to place a beaver deceiver by a culvert along 288th Street in North Kitsap.

 While the fencing is a deterrent, it’s not guaranteed to keep out beavers.

“Believe it or not, they still manage to build inside that culvert,” Carroll said.

Of course they do, those scheming beavers. with their cunning ways and wire-clippers. It couldn’t be that you put them in WRONG or anything, could it? You know, far be it from me be like the loyal republican who says, “Conservatism never fails, it can only BE failed” – but in this case the  tools are automatically suspect. I want to see that beaver deceiver that failed. And Beaver Deceivers helping fish migration? I blame Mike Callahan for that. I knew his specially adapted flow devices would give people the wrong idea. And here’s proof.

For the record, they’re helping fish maneuver the flow device, not the dam.


On that note, we will say goodbye to the “you’ve got to be kidding me” in Kitsap story, and talked about our favorite topic. Citizens protecting beavers. This time in Milford, MA.

Breach of Milford beaver dam upsets some residents

MILFORD – A few residents joined environmental activist Suzanne Fournier Monday night as she continued to criticize town officials for breaching the dam at Heron Pond.

 Fournier, who wrote in a letter to the editor of The Cabinet last week that removing part of the dam will harm many animal species, told selectmen someone should have consulted the town Conservation Commission and teachers at the nearby Heron Pond elementary school before the work was done.

 “Many teachers are very upset about the loss of this beautiful pond,” she said, and the reasons given for the breach “are not credible.”

 There were complaints about turtles and frogs and a ruined Great Blue Heron Rookery. The Conservation Commission who gave the orders has little to say for itself, but gosh, they’re thinking about using a flow device next time.

Selectmen did not respond to the comments, but Fred Elkind, the town’s environmental programs coordinator, said last week that no real harm was done to the dam or the pond by the breaching, which was done in August.

 The Conservation Commission is looking into the possibility of installing a pipe and fence system, he said, that could help control beaver activity, as Fournier has suggested.

 Now you’re thinking about following her advice? Now that you’ve tried every conceivable way to ruin things on your own? I think your body is laboring under a misnomer.

You should be called the “Destruction Commission”.

And Suzanne, Worth A Dam is VERY proud of you and your neighbors. Your next step is to get the kids in those classrooms and bring them on a fieldtrip to the ruined dam. It’s a science project on habitat and ecosystems. Have them all draw something that was harmed by the damaged wetlands. You know, the frogs and the fish and the blue herons.  Invite the art teacher to cut them out and put them on a mural. And oh, call the media and invite them to photograph kids at the ruined dam.

That flow device will start looking better and better to those commissioners. I guarantee it.

 Final Mural

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