Conservation Awareness

   Posted by heidi08 On April - 17 - 2015ADD COMMENTS

What a great article from Troy Alabama. I won’t say of all places because Alabama is the site of the most important fine EVER for removing a beaver dam and destroying the habitat of the rare watercress darter. Looks like the city of Troy learned nothing from their northern cousin’s misfortune.

Dam destruction raises concern

The city of Troy tore down a beaver dam beside McKinley Drive near the walkway that connects the Edge apartment complex to campus.

Vaughn Daniels, environmental services director for the city of Troy, said the city worked with the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources to make sure the dam removal was environmentally safe.

 The beavers were not killed, Daniels said.  According to Daniels, the dam was a threat to the road.

 After the beaver dam was removed, the pond it created drained.

 Members of Troy University’s Environmental Club moved animals from the remains of the pond to the Lagoon.

 “In one day out there doing a visual survey, we saw 3-foot grass carp, sunfishes, red-winged blackbirds, belted kingfishers, musk turtles, pond sliders, gray and green tree frogs, Eastern garter snakes, as well as a huge female great horned owl,” said Tanner Stainbrook, a senior ecology and field biology major from Huntsville and a member of the Environmental Club, in an email. 

Members of the Environmental Club have voiced concern about the effects tearing down the dam will have on the area.  “The big thing is that this eliminated the major wetland ecosystem in the area,” Stainbrook said. “This mud hole, in two days, will be just that. There’ll be no water left.”

Group members said they were concerned that this may harm the great horned owl’s habitat, as the owl fed on the frogs in the pond.

A university, an environmental club, and a sympathetic reporter. Something tells me these beavers might be making a splash. I spent time yesterday tracking all the major players so I could make sure they new about solutions and consequences of dam removal. I haven’t heard anything back, but I’m hopeful. And it gave me a new idea for responding to these stories. Since we review every beaver report that’s written every year, we may as well give notice to the best and the worst beaver articles of each caagory. Gradually notify contenders that they’re in the running and pick the winners in January. I already got Robin excited about the idea and she’s going to help! I took the liberty of inspiring myself for the project with some graphics this morning. Hahaha! Aren’t they fun?

best beaver bylinebad beaver byline

A less pleasant article came out of Norway yesterday about one of the many hazards of beaver life. It’s nice to see it written about respectfully though  (except for the headline).

Timber! Beaver crushed by tree it was felling

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The unlucky beaver trapped under a birch. Photo: Beate Strøm Johansen

A beaver in Norway has been crushed to death after misjudging which way the tree it was gnawing down was going to fall.

 Beate Strøm Johansen, a Zoologist at the Agder Natural History museum in Kristiansand on the southern tip of Norway, was called to the scene after a local logger stumbled upon the unfortunate animal.

 “This beaver has been extremely unlucky,” she told The Local. “I hope it’s not something that happens very often for the beavers’ sake.”

 Johansen said that beavers normally have an uncanny ability to predict when and where a tree is likely to fall.

 “When the tree is falling they have to jump aside so the tree doesn’t hit them. Instinctively, they should know where it is falling, but sometimes they don’t know which way to jump,” she explained.

I might be strange, but it seems almost kind of sweet to read this article. As if it mattered that a beaver was killed by a tree when we all know sooo many are killed on purpose. Yes trees are unpredictable, and I’m not sure beavers have any uncanny abilities to know where they’re falling except practice and luck. As the old saying goes, that which doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

Now it’s time to invite you to the birthday Earthday event at John Muir tomorrow. The event information is here for you to print. The guest speaker is going to be Beth Pratt for the wildlife federation, the winner of the conservationist of the year is going to be our friend Camilla Fox, and the non-profit of the year is going to be our friends at the River Otter Ecology Project. My congressman is getting a lifetime legacy award, which we hope he will be able to pick up in person. At the moment my office is literally surrounded with art supplies for our ‘build your own totem’ project. Rusty from Napa is coming to help with our booth and 57 other environmental exhibits will be on hand to celebrate the day. Plus Frank Helling as John Muir, which is sooo appealing. Whatever your planning tomorrow stop right now and plan to come. It will be an amazing day.

awards 2014My graphic for the award winners will be a big sign. The background is Muir’s letter to Enos Mills congratulating him on his conservation work and inviting him to the house. See for yourself.

Muir letter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“The quality of beavers is twice-blessed”

   Posted by heidi08 On April - 16 - 2015ADD COMMENTS

Major beaver victory in Ontario, Canada this morning:

Hamilton Conservation Authority creates new protocol to let Fifty Point beavers be

A new protocol for dealing with wildlife conflicts at local conservation areas will leave beavers at Fifty Point alone unless they wreak major havoc.

 Set to go to Hamilton Conservation Authority directors for approval in May, the protocol only allows lethal trapping as a last resort in cases where beavers are a significant threat to health and safety, property or the natural environment.

 Directors placed a moratorium on lethal trapping last May after a Fifty Point neighbour’s discovery of a dead muskrat and injured snapping turtle in two beaver traps in the park’s trout pond created a public outcry.

He said if beavers aren’t creating an immediate flood risk, park staff will simply monitor their impact and if necessary consider habitat modifications, like fencing trees and modifying culverts so they can’t be blocked.

 If beavers have built a dam that is a flood threat, depending on the situation the authority may remove it or try less intrusive measures, like installing a flow device to restore normal water levels, the told the authority’s conservation advisory board.

 “Humane, lethal trapping is the last resort if you’ve got acute significant issues and the other approaches you’ve tried are not successful,” Stone said. “Generally, our preference is to leave wildlife alone.”

Go Hamilton! Fifty Point is an actual place, for a while I was reading this headline as if it meant fifty beavers at point! I had to hunt all over to find who’s responsible for this bit of beaver magic, but it turns out Hamilton is the home town of the Digital Director of content and the voice behind the radio at Fur Bearer Defenders, Michael Howie. So I’m not at all surprised they could will this into happening. Here’s their article on the victory.

The issue arose last year when a resident was out for a walk and came across a muskrat and an at-risk snapping turtle in beaver traps. The Fur-Bearers (and our wonderful supporters) spoke with the media, the Conservation Authority, and local politicians about non-lethal solutions following that news; it would appear the decision makers liked what they heard.

image1Last night I received the completely unexpected request for photo use from Demitrios Kouzios, a dedicated Cubs fan from Chicago who said he tweeted a beaver picture from our website and wanted to pay for its use. The photo was this, (hahaha) which I replied wasn’t ours, wasn’t a beaver and wasn’t even alive. Which he was thrilled to hear. He thanked me heartily and this morning donated $100 to Worth A Dam! Go Cubs!

Then Robin of Napa pointed me to  me this article on wildlife and traffic in the chronicle, reporting a study by the very group we featured this week. It also tells you where the danger spots are here in the Bay Area.

Mapping roadkill hot spots across a bloody state

Californians, with their famous love of the highway, tend to run over a lot of animals — raccoons, deer, desert iguana. But the danger for road-crossing critters may be rising with the drought.

A UC Davis study released Wednesday, which seeks to promote safety for both wildlife and motorists, identifies stretches of California asphalt where the most animals have been hit — and where more are likely to die in the baking sun as they extend their ranges in search of water.

CaptureFinally, in case you forgot to watch Nature last night there was unbelievably adorable footage of beaver kits in the lodge in winter. You will miss out on something truly special if you don’t go watch it right now. Beavers appear at the beginning and the end (the Alpha and the Omega as it were) but it’s all good. Ann Prum did a great job, although not better than our friend Jari Osborne who was prescient enough to just focus on beavers! Enjoy!

The quality of mercy is not strained;
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest;
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes:
Merchant of Venice, ACT IV: Scene 1

“More Killy – Less Frilly!”

   Posted by heidi08 On April - 15 - 2015ADD COMMENTS

It wasn’t an accident that the poet said “April is the cruelest month”. Have you noticed how everyone and their cousin is deciding to trim their trees and hedges right during nesting season? It’s as if no one looks outside all the rest of the year but as soon as they want to barbecue they have to start killing some nature to make the yard nice. Apparently, it’s true for beavers too.

Beaver bounty considered for 2015-16 budget

 BOLIVIA — The Brunswick County Board of Commissioners has been asked to consider a beaver bounty for Brunswick County.

 Stephanie Lewis, director of operation services, proposed putting $10,000 into a pilot program to remove beavers and clear their dams that cause trouble throughout the county.

 Lewis added that while trappers would remove the beavers, the county is already removing the beaver dams except when explosives are required to clear them.

 Commissioner Frank Williams said he receives more calls about beavers than any other types of calls in his district.

 “Where are we in the curve? Are we ahead? Are we caught up?” Commissioner Marty Cooke asked regarding how the county has handled problems with beavers.

 “Right now I’d say the beavers are winning.”

They’re definitely winning in the IQ contest, I’ll give them that. And why on earth would you call a town in Prince Edward Island “Bolivia”? It makes zero sense. Which, is perfect I guess. Because paying more money to get more of something that’s not working is pretty senseless.

To save trees, Park Board approves beaver cull

FARGO—Experts will begin trapping and killing beavers living along the Red River this fall or next spring, in an effort to spare trees from the animals’ teeth.

The Park Board on Tuesday voted unanimously to approve the cull, which will be handled by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

 Beavers have been chewing into too many trees, causing financial damage and much consternation, park officials said.

“Ever since I’ve been here, we’ve known there’s been beaver damage to our trees,” Parks Director Dave Leker told the Park Board. “It’s just gradually, over the past five years, getting worse.”

 Roger Gress, executive director of the parks district, said thousands of dollars have been lost due to beavers chewing into the city’s trees.

 ”We’ve planted new trees,” Gress said, “and then they’re gone.”

 Expert trappers, led by the USDA’s John Paulson, will handle the cull, which will take place at Lemke and Trefoil parks, at a cost of about $1,000.

 Paulson’s team will start by analyzing and locating the beaver colonies before laying the traps.

Yes, first hire  the hitman and let him figure it out. Never mind about those crazy beaver-huggers saying you can wrap the trees or protect them with paint. They don’t know how much easier it is just to kill them. Bring in the traps!

Dead animals discovered at Charlotte neighborhood park

At least this park in Charlotte North Carolina has the good sense to be mortified by the site of these grisly deaths. Which is almost like being appalled that they happen at all.Something tells me they’ll be more discrete in the future.

King County crews work to clear beaver dam breach

And let’s end on a slightly more positive note because Washington is refreshingly good to beavers. If I were one of our flat-tailed friends I would swim north until I crossed the Columbia River and then start looking for a place to settle down.

APRIL is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.
Winter kept us warm, covering
Earth in forgetful snow, feeding

A little life with dried tubers.

T.S. Eliot The Wasteland

Remember to watch Episode 2 of animal homes tonight on Nature PBS for first ever seen footage inside beaver lodges!

Beaver message trickles East

   Posted by heidi08 On April - 14 - 2015ADD COMMENTS

Busy as a beaver: unique partnership helps maintain riverside trees

UI allows the native beaver to gnaw down invasive trees, while saving protected species.  Keeping the University of Iowa campus beautiful is a full-time job. Luckily, the UI Landscape Services team gets a little assistance each year in the form of some notoriously busy helpers: the nocturnal, semi-aquatic beaver.

 Beavers, a native Iowa species, typically gnaw down trees along the UI campus riverbanks, which is fine for some tree species, but not for others. Instead of stopping the beavers’ behavior, the tree care team decided to work with the beavers’ natural talents. By wrapping valued native and planted trees with protective wire, the invasive and common native species like Boxelder, White Mulberry, Siberian Elm, Willow, Green Ash, and Silver Maple, are left for the beavers to utilize in their underwater homes for food and shelter.

It is true that beavers can be destructive if their work is not redirected; however, under the right circumstances they can be used as an effective, low-cost management tool. Next to humans, no other animal appears to do more to take care of its landscape.

“While there may be a number of trees gnawed off along the riverbanks, the beavers’ work will not kill the tree as the root system is still intact, so the tree typically will resprout. As long as they continue to do this to the invasive species, we don’t have a problem with them. They’re a spoke in the wheel of life as are the trees, as are we,” says Andy Dahl, UI arborist. “We’re happy to have them as our partners to manage the riverbanks.”

Go Andy and UI! Awesome to read that the Hawekeye State has at least an island committed to coexistence. Sometimes I get the feeling that the beaver good news is spreading so far and permeating so deep that there eventually won’t be a single state where it doesn’t exist.

Except Oklahoma. Because, you know.

“The flood recovery is helping us to clean up and better celebrate the Iowa River. Those busy beavers are helping to contribute to that effort,” says Don Guckert, associate vice president of Facilities Management.

Even in Fargo ND the attitude towards beavers is changing. Just look at this:

Beavers beware: Fargo Park Board mulls trapping, killing

FARGO—Because of tree damage caused by beavers along the Red River, the Fargo Park Board will meet tonight to consider trapping and killing the animals in hopes of reining in their population.

“We’re not trying to eliminate all the beavers,” said Dave Leker, director of parks. “We’re just trying to reduce them.”

 Leker said the district has received a number of calls from residents worried about beavers harming mature, riparian trees. He said there’s no problem with beavers using small trees for food and dam building, but the destruction of decades-old trees concerns district officials.

 Sam DeMarais, the district’s forester, said he’s counted roughly 70 trees gnawed by beavers in city parks. Many of the trees have been felled, and in other cases, beavers have chewed off the bark all the way around the lower trunk. This is known as girdling, which is a death sentence for a tree, Leker said.

“Beavers are part of the natural ecosystem, and so are trees,” he said. “It’s kind of a no-win situation. You’re going to have people that, you know, are rooting for the beavers, and you’re going to have people that are rooting for the trees.”

Hmmm Fargo hasn’t exactly exhausted their resources trying to solve this problem. But it’s still better that they don’t want to kill ALL the beavers. An inquiring mind might ask how many beaver they have? And how they’ll chose which ones to kill?   The Sophie’s choice of beavers, I guess. They are going to contact USDA next. Now how could that possibly go wrong?

Lifetimes and Beavers

   Posted by heidi08 On April - 13 - 2015ADD COMMENTS

Capture1

The California Roadkill Observation System is operated by the Road Ecology Center at UC  Davis. Our friend Eli worked to get it to show the incidence of beaver deaths around the state caused by drivers, which is a grimly useful tool for getting a handle on population. We can infer where there are breeding colonies and where beavers decided to disperse. The interactive map tells you what was seen and where, The one near San CaptureJose is from highway 1 at Pescadero, which is  a colony we know about. The one that makes me sad is the yellow one (meaning a large beaver) which was trying to cross highway 37. This means he or she VERY nearly made it on his way to colonize Marin, which might be harder to do than we realize with all the lethal motorways in between.

I like knowing there is a resource to report these deaths at least. I’m especially troubled by highway deaths when those lethal spacers block the center of the roadway. There is no place for the animal to get through and they just are forced to wander aimlessly looking for an opening.

This is a depressing conversation for a monday, so I’m going to give you a LARGE DOSE of cheer.

Napa River restoration begins a new phase Upvalley

OAKVILLE — After 13 years and $21 million, restoration of 4.5 miles of Napa River banks in the heart of Napa Valley is complete, offering improved habitat and reducing flood damage.

Federal, state and local leaders celebrated the accomplishment Thursday as they prepared to launch phase 2: 9 miles of bank restoration from Oakville to Oak Knoll costing another $21 million.

Almost 100 people turned out for the by-invitation morning event along the rivers bank at the Opus One Winery in Oakville, including Rep. Mike Thompson, D-St Helena.

“This river is part of what makes Napa County the iconic landscape that it is,” said Samuel Schuchat, executive officer of the California Coastal Conservancy. “I strongly believe this is the future of river restoration in California.”

One of the most exciting things at the Salmonid Federation Urban Streams Workshop I attended, was this talk

A “Living River” Runs Through It, The Napa Creek Flood Management Project – Leslie Ferguson, San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board

which described the 20 year job of restoring the Napa River. No kidding, 20 years of involving stake holders, wooing business leaders, and politicians. 20 years of weekly meetings to talk about letting the river return to some of its natural state, which means vintners had to agree to give up some of the most valuable land in the entire country.

 More than a decade ago, vineyard owners in the group called The Rutherford Dust Society started the effort. The result is the newly completed Rutherford Reach project between Zinfandel Lane and Oakville Cross Road.

 Twenty-eight landowners participated in the $21 million project. The county’s Measure A flood control sales tax provided $12.5 million, with federal and state agencies contributing $7.9 million. Landowners gave up 30 acres of vineyard land worth an estimated $9 million and agreed to pay a maintenance assessment.

Davie Pina of the Rutherford Dust Society and Pina Vineyard Management has seen a difference with wildlife along the river. He’s seen beaver dams and ospreys and Swainson’s hawks.

 “Things are coming back, and we are doing the right thing around here,” he told the gathering.

Once again, the arrival of beaver dams are recognized as a reward for the very hard restorative work done.  I say ‘again’ because I was lucky enough to once have a lovely conversation with the revered Hughlet Hornbeck about just this topic in terms of cleaning up the Marina, Granger’s Wharf and the mouth of Alhambra Creek in a sustained effort of 50 years that lead to the arrival of our beavers. He said the beavers were a reward for their effort. He wanted to meet the young lady who had “scared the city council” into letting them live.

( A memory to treasure until the end of my days for sure.)

Back to the topic at hand, learning about the marathon efforts at work in Napa have helped me understand just why their response to the beavers has been so uniformly idyllic. They are river-smart in Napa because they spent literally decades studying. Meeting every week, arguing with landowners, persuading the thick-headed and zealous over patient dialogue, compromising and never getting half of what they wanted. They did a remarkable thing,

We should all hope to be a part of something beautiful that is so long in the making.

Swimming Upstream to Trout Unlimited

   Posted by heidi08 On April - 12 - 20151 COMMENT

We left bright and early for Coloma yesterday with lots of time to spare thank goodness because google’s infinite wisdom directed us to a private road and dead end. Luckily there was an actual map in the car to guide us although I wouldn’t swear it was printed before 1975. As it was we had to ask a ranger at Coloma state park for the last turn, and would never have seen the tiny  lane heading off to the American River Resort. We had literally minutes to spare when I set up, threw the equipment together and tried to make sure that everything was working.

The rustic event center where it was held was marked with a huge stone fireplace and scattered with round tables where the (mostly male) presidents gathered after lunch outside to hear the strange beaver-lady. Some parts of the room were a tough sell, but I did my dammedest [sic], and there were many good questions and much appreciation when I was done. My host, John Sikora of El Dorado Trout Unlimited was very grateful and presented Worth A Dam with a 15o.oo dollar check for the service. I met Cindy Noble, the president of TU from the Feather River who had recently asked to link her project to the website. And Brian Hines  the man whose presentation I had followed the SRF workshop on urban stream restoration. And Jerry Bender, the president of Santa Rosa’s TU who was eager for beaver in Santa Rosa and wanted me to think about talking to his chapter or to his Kiwanis group at 7 on the morning! (Ahem.)  And the we loaded up our equipment and made the long winding way back home.

These photos should give you an idea of the day. The tiny brown dot at the back is me talking beavers. Some of the crowd were very appreciative and into the topic but there were a few scowling men who were less appreciative.  A few untreated cases of ‘mansplaining’ posed as questions at the end, which always irks me greatly. I left with the feeling that I would love to get alone them in a room and lecture them privately about beavers for hours.  One of the surprising parts to me is how eager many of them were for Fish and Wildlife to change its rules about beaver location. They all felt it should happen imminently – which my channels tell me unlikely. The more pressure the better! And their impatience will only help.

A good day, a hard day, and useful inroads were made. I was exhausted by the time we made it home. Now we have to shift our focus to Earth Day next week!

trout unlimitedHere’s the sorry update on Choppa  Chappa. Apparently I’ve been spelling his name wrong. Although I’m not sure he can spell anyway. Looks like it’s only a matter of time.

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

Trout Unlimited welcomes Martinez Beavers.

   Posted by heidi08 On April - 11 - 2015Comments Off

Choppa’s brief freedom might be coming to an end. But at least he’ll get outta that cage and in a real habitat it sounds like.

Chapa, the missing beaver, found in Arkansas River

Chapa, the missing beaver, has been found.

Now, caretaker Connie Storrie just has to figure out how to coax him back into captivity.

 Storrie, who has coordinated the search and rescue effort for Chapa since Tuesday, said the beaver was seen in the Arkansas River around 8:45 a.m. Friday. He broke out of his enclosure at the Kansas Wildlife Exhibit in Central Riverside Park sometime Tuesday morning.

She is not disclosing where Chapa was found because she is still trying to coax him out of the water – extra gawkers may spook him, she said.

 A photo that surfaced yesterday of a beaver near Marina Point Apartments, near 21st and Amidon, ended up being a different beaver. The tail on that beaver was too short and the fur too dark, Storrie said.

 How does Storrie know this is the genuine Chapa? She said she called his name while searching the river on Friday and the beaver started swimming toward her.

 As far as she can tell, Chapa is unharmed from his four days in the wild.

 “I haven’t seen him close enough out of the water, but he does look good in the water,” she said.

 Oh man, he was so close! But her concern is kind of endearing.

We’re trying to convince him that he wants to come home,” she said. “He’s still having fun, and he hasn’t run into any trouble yet.

 “If I knew that he would be OK and maybe find a lady friend that could show him the ropes, then that would be great, but I don’t know if that would happen.”

He most likely will not return to Central Riverside Park, she said. She said she has an area where she can keep a close eye on his re-assimilation into beaver life until he will one day be released.

 I was hoping he’d never be found, and it would turn into a kind of ‘spartacus moment’ for all the beavers in Kansas. I guess not.

 

Now we’re off to Coloma to talk about the relationship between beaver and trout. Wish beavers luck!TroutseekersTrout & Beaver