Czechmate for beavers

   Posted by heidi08 On December - 7 - 2016ADD COMMENTS

The poor beleaguered Czechs. They are being invaded by beavers. Or at least think they are. Given this photo I’m not so sure.

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The article mentions that wrapping trees with wire or painting is a good way to protect them. And failing that suggests keeping a dog in the hard or gluing dogfur to the tree trunk will help. (Dogfur?) But I suppose children need crafts with the winter holidays coming up. (And it sure looks like someone glued dogfur to that photo.)

Which, I’m sure you know, is a nutria and not a beaver.

The most severe damage is caused by the dams that these rodents build because they raise water level and may inundate the surroundings. Besides, beavers damage levees in ponds. This is also why steel nets have been installed on the reconstructed ones.

On the other hand, some dams built by beavers help during floods as they slow down the water flow during snows thawing and torrential rains, MfD writes.

Wow, they even took time to mention beaver dams do some good. I guess the takeaway from this article is that the  Czech republic, where slightly more than 10,000,000 people earn salaries of just over 1000 a year, uses culvert protection and wraps trees to prevent beaver damage which makes them much, much smarter than us.

Think about that while you listen to one of my favorite pieces of music of all time.

Rolig bäver skämt!

   Posted by heidi08 On December - 6 - 2016ADD COMMENTS

Apologies in advance for using google translate but my Swedish is -er- rusty. Yesterday I received an email for the owner of an ecotour company in Sweden asking me what the best beaver tours were in the west. Could I recommend some for his itinerary through the western states? I politely explained that I had friends dotted around that could show him local colonies but as far as I knew there were NO professional tours in the US. He was surprised and said that there were at least 20 in Sweden!

calvin-and-hobbes-laughIt took a while to catch our breaths again after the hearty chuckle to think that of the day when California (about the same size as Sweden) sported 20 professional  beaver tours. (That would be like four in the bay area alone!) I, of course, went to check out his website.

captureThe1 tour runs 5 hours and costs around 150 dollars per person. It is lead by strapping young wildlife guides who know what to look for and are wonderfully fluent.   The tour includes an outdoor meal by the lake and advice on how to get thcapturee best photographs. Their website says that beavers are seen most nights and often feed near the boat.

Just like a visit to the footbridge in Martinez except fewer homeless and 150 dollars a head.

Marcus thought it odd that there were no tour programs and suggested he might be able to help us start one? Just our luck because we’re such fools in Martinez we’ve been giving free tours to 500 people a year at the festival and on call when we could have been making top dollar! (500 x 150 x 10) adds up to nearly  a million dollars!

calvin-and-hobbes-laughCertainly we know in Martinez that folks are interested in Beavers and appreciate the chance to see them or see evidence of them. Jon could tell you how eagerly folks listen to his many tours and crowd for a chance to see a chewed tree or dam. Maybe there is a future for us in beaver tourism? Ahh Marcus, you have made us dream of the possible and reach for the stars! Thanks for that!

Speaking of glimpses of rare wildlife I was particularly moved by this short celebration of reintroducing fishers on Mt. Rainier tribal land this Saturday. Fishers were all trapped out like beavers for their rich fur and hadn’t been seen in hundreds of years. We know from our beaver mileage that sometimes the easiest way to get around the feds and bring back a species is to just do it on sovereign land where federal rules have no jurisdiction. Then wait for the successful animals to reintroduce themselves over the borders.

Surrounded by riches and treasures

   Posted by heidi08 On December - 5 - 2016ADD COMMENTS

It’s Monday, you have tons of Christmas wrapping and decorating to do, so you need this. Really.

cutest-kit-ever

Back when famed wildlife photographer was photographing our ill-fated baby beavers, she would Suzi at workhave to leave occasionally to go to Washington where Sarvey rehab facility had a very small baby beaver that she needed to include with the photos for the beaver story for Ranger Rick. I remember because in the beginning she talked about filming him in a ghillie suit because he shouldn’t learn to trust humans. The timing is right and I think this little guy was it.

Never A Dull Bling

I work at Sarvey Wildlife Care Center, a rescue and rehab facility for wildlife.

In May 2015, this baby beaver was discovered by some campers.  He was without his mother and too young to survive on his own, so the campers brought him to us.  We actually already had a female beaver with us who was rehabbing from an animal attack, and the two beavers were eventually put together.  The older female became a surrogate to the baby male. The two beavers spent a year with us.  This past spring they were both released, together, in a secluded area with lots of access to trees, water, and natural habitat.

Beavers play a crucial role in biodiversity.  Many species rely on beaver-created habitat, and a lot of these species who rely on beavers are threatened or endangered.  This year, the baby American beaver was made Patient of the Year at Sarvey. Ornaments and cards were made to celebrate this particular animal.

BENEFITS OF BEAVER PONDS

  • Decrease damaging floods
  • Recharge drinking water aquifers
  • Remove pollutants from surface and ground water
  • Drought protection
  • Decreased erosion

Sarvey does excellent rehab work and has earned a reputation throughout the world for their wildlife care. Aside from having the very cutest kit photo I have ever seen, they understand why beavers matter, which isn’t always the case. If you want to send them some love donate here because they deserve it.

Now there’s something that I’m even more excited to talk about. It’s an article in the very respected magazine Natural History that a beaver buddy alerted me to yesterday. The article is by Katy Spence and she obviously  spent some quality time with our beaver friends in Alberta with Dr. Glynnis Hood and Lorne Fitch of Cows and Fish. You can’t believe how great this article is. Guess what the title is. Go ahead, guess.

hydroDing! Ding! Ding! That’s the title I have been waiting for a decade to read! Somebody give Katy a Worth A Dam t shirt! Unfortunately the very impressive article isn’t online and doesn’t want to be shared with the likes of people who haven’t purchased a subscription, so it required stealth to obtain and sharing it with you requires stealth as well. I figured I’d put the cute baby photo on the top and all the copyright police would walk on by saying ohh, just some cute animal loving website; nothing to see here, move along.

Are they gone? Shhh. It starts with the account of Pierre Buldoc, who wanted to use beaver on is private land.

Sometimes called “nature’s engineers,” the North American beaver (Castor canadensis) is one of the few mammals — including humans — that substantially alters the landscape to suit its own needs. In fact, ecologists consider beavers to be a keystone species because their presence or absence will drastically change an ecosystem. With increasingly extreme weather events, ever-growing human populations, and declining freshwater sources, some beaver advocates believe the animals offer a vital, natural solution for retaining water in ponds and mitigating floods in other riparian ecosystems.

When Bolduc first proposed reintroducing beavers to the landscape, his neighbors — not to mention county officials — were not happy. Beavers had previously clogged a nearby culvert, which, in turn, often washed out the road. They were a nuisance, so the county removed them. Property values, crops, and roads in many rural areas have suffered damage from beaver construction sites. Sometimes, the territorial rodents will cut a favorite tree or even kill curious pets.

Yet, the rodents have had a tremendous impact on Bolduc’s pond. After approaching each of his neighbors individually about the beavers to convince them to try his reintroduction experiment, they eventually agreed. He even suggested an alternate solution for the county road: beaver-proof culverts. Unlike standard culverts, which run parallel to the water, these culverts are perpendicular — letting water rise into them like a straw in a glass. If the water gets high enough, it will drain through a connected horizontal pipe that runs underneath the road, preventing floods. Even when the beavers’ dam breached in May 2016 and drained hundreds of thousands of gallons of water, the culvert prevented a flood.

As climate change increases the risk of extreme weather events, some scientists are eyeing beavers as a tool for maintaining volatile watersheds. In 2008, Glynnis Hood, an environmental scientist at the University of Alberta-Augustana who specializes in wetland ecology and the impact of beavers, published a paper describing beavers’ unprecedented ability to mitigate drought. She and her team analyzed fifty-four years of drought data from Elk Island National Park in Alberta and found that where beaver dams were present, there was more water-up to nine times that of a pond or water source without beavers. Because beaver ponds are so much deeper than other ponds, water lasts longer, even in times of drought.

Hood has continued to examine the nuanced effect beavers have on a landscape, as well as how humans respond to them. She’s completing a study that compares costs of different beaver management efforts. The study will contribute to a larger project, called Leave it to Beavers, which aims to reduce human-beaver conflict. The Alberta-based, inter-agency effort uses citizen science to gather information about the long-term effects beavers can have on a landscape. The project is composed of several agencies, including the Alberta Riparian Habitat Management Society, a non-government agency informally known as “Cows and Fish.” Cows and Fish works with landowners and stakeholders to clarify how water flows through different landscapes, especially agricultural areas.

A riparian specialist for Cows and Fish, Lome Fitch, is trying to spark discussions about living with beavers. He offers a voluntary workshop on how beavers affect the landscape and how humans can peacefully coexist with them. He isn’t interested in pushing people to accept beavers, necessarily. He’s simply holding the door open. “You don’t bring people to the middle,” Fitch said. “You just start them thinking about where their position is and, hopefully, use that and expand their information sources. Maybe they’ll continue to migrate towards the middle.”

Fitch developed a ten-step list of goals, the first of which is building tolerance. Perhaps the most formidable step will be to change government policy in Alberta. The province has no clear policy concerning beavers, leaving confusion over what is permitted and what is not when it comes to relocation and rehabilitation.

The article goes into a full description of flow devices and how they work, and talks about how Glynnis and her students are using them effectively and teaching others how to use them. It even talks about how polarizing beavers are, Rachel Haddock of the Miitakis Institute calls them the ‘Wolves of the watershed’ because people either love them or hate them. Ahh! Sounds familiar!

Then it ends on this POWERFUL note.

If people are willing to compromise with beavers now, the result could be a new narrative in which humans and wildlife co-engineer a healthier, more resilient landscape. The big unknown is whether or not we can move past old assumptions.

That sure is the big unknown alright. But wowowow! What a fantastically public place to put this out there. We can only hope it gets read and circulated in all the right places. Lets hope someone leaves it on the governor’s desk right away. And decorates the halls of congress with it. And forces everyone waiting in line trying to get a depredation permit to read it. And if, btw,  you work somewhere someone needs to read it email me, and we’ll see what we can do.

 

Umwelt und Bieber

   Posted by heidi08 On December - 4 - 2016ADD COMMENTS

captureThis is a really fun article written by grad student Kathleen Onorevole for UNC-CH Marine Sciences Graduate Student Blog. She writes very intelligently about a dissertation being dramatically changed by some stubborn beaver activity in Huntley Meadows in VA. (Where our good friend Ann Cameron Siegal has been photographing for years.)

What this author doesn’t suspect is that dissertations were also changed by beaver activity for Dr. Glynnis Hood (who was trying to research drought when beaver ponds kept ruining her data), Dr. Suzanne Fouty (who had a nice hydrology study arranged which beavers ruined),  Dr. Michael Pollock (whose salmon research was ‘falsely’ inflated by beavers and recently for Dr. Arthur Gold who was just trying to research Nitrogen when beavers kept moving in and messing up his study.

I’m not an grad student, so I don’t know the fancy German word for it. I just say: beavers change things. It’s what they do.

Maybe Kathleen thinks this has never happened before. We could show her many times where smart researchers either hop on the beaver train, or get off the tracks. Right? This is a fun article and I plan on quoting her heavily! You should go read the whole thing, though. It’s well worth it.

When Animals Take Over (Restoration Projects)

beaver face ann

Beaver at Huntley meadows: Ann Siegal

Most productivity gurus say that when you hit a wall, you should switch tasks.  This is how I ended up reading a paper about beavers who managed to hijack a wetland restoration for their benefit.  So congratulations!  You’re in the right place to learn some fancy philosophy terms and think about wetlands from a whooole new perspective.

The wetland in question is Huntley Meadows Park, a Fairfax County Park in Alexandria, VA, just south of DC.  The 1500-acre park is surrounded by a busy metropolitan area and bordered by I-95, but you wouldn’t know it from the photos.  .  In the early 1990s, restoration plans began, prompted by a decrease in rare bird sightings coupled with the realization that intervention was necessary to maintain a functional wetland.  This is where the beavers come in.

This was news to me, I knew something about the history of Huntley Meadows and have even met the former beaver director there, who’s now the director of Laguna de Santa Rosa. But I didn’t know that a dissertation was done on HM by Dr. Gwendolin McCrea. And I didn’t know this term, which fascinates me:

 The second idea is umwelt, an animal’s view of the external world.  Umwelt strikes me as the framework that makes stories like Watership Down possible: animals are assumed to have narratives of sort as they respond to and navigate the world on their own terms, unaware of human motivations.

Suffice it to say that the beaver umwelt vision of the park was different than the park planners with their charts and research. They wanted a path to go here and the wetlands here, and you know what beavers wanted.

beaver back ann

Beaver from the back: Ann Siegal

Maybe the solution is to kill all the beavers?  Nope, park visitors like them and would not be happy.  Huntley Meadows also couldn’t outsource them to other local wetlands, who already had their own beaver communities.    This brought up a catch-22: the beavers had been partially responsible for people’s attraction to the park, but the wetland couldn’t persist with the beavers present.  The solution, it turned out, was to “manage beaver behavior without managing the beavers themselves.”  A team from Clemson University developed a pipe system that dispersed water flow, lessening the environmental stimulus that would normally prompt beavers to create dams.  As McCrea explains, the pipes accounted for the beavers’ umwelt– and exploited it.  One problem solved!  The beavers could continue to live in Huntley Meadows, building fewer dams and therefore not damning the wetland.

Yes, so they installed a flow device. And it altered the beaver effect enough that the park could exist and the beavers exist. I guess in Virginia it is worth a dissertation, but sheesh, it happens all the time. It even happened in Martinez.  That’s no reason to start using German words to describe it.

So humans were the power brokers in that scenario, but the tables were about to turn.  When planners were designing observation trails, they identified a key value of the dispositif: visitors loved watching the beavers putter around, meaning that the beavers had to be visible for those people to continue visiting.  This led to restoration elements designed just for the beavers, including a dam [SHE MEANS LODGE]  that encroached on the boardwalk and a stand of trees that was fenced on a rotating basis.  In McCrea’s words, the accommodations “enroll[ed] the beavers themselves as an element of the governing dispositif directed toward the creation of environmental subjects.”  Translation: the beavers were calling the shots now.

I have to say I like the idea of protecting a stand of trees on a rotating basis so that the public can see the chewing but the park can keep some trees.  I like the idea that people’s interest in beavers shaped public planning, and ahem, can we think of where else that happened?

The author is not totally sold on the idea of not killing all the beavers but she thinks it’s interesting. She ends with a reference to the dissertation.  Do you think we’re in the reference section? Bob Kobres is their anyway you can find me a copy?

McCrea, Gwendolin. 2016. Castor canadensis and urban wetland governance- Fairfax County, VA case study. Urban Forestry and Urban Greening 19: 306-314.

Final thoughts? The stated point of Huntley Meadows was to promote biodiversity. And the planners were worried that the beavers were going to ruin that. Ahem.

pyramid

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Hoosers wrapping trees?

   Posted by heidi08 On December - 3 - 20161 COMMENT

Don’t say it never can happen Now we’re wrapping trees in Indiana. YES Indiana!

Beavers becoming a gnawing problem along rivers in downtown Fort Wayne

Volunteers have begun wrapping the base of large trees with metal hardware cloth to protect them.

City officials still are debating and discussing downtown riverfront development, but some of Nature’s engineers already have bit into the project with their own plans.

Several beavers living in the rivers in downtown Fort Wayne have been gnawing the bark off the base of large trees along the riverbanks, which eventually kills the trees and can lead to the tree falling into the river, said Dan Wire, a lifelong user of local rivers and executive director of the locally based Tri-State Watershed Alliance.

“What we have found is the beavers really like the cottonwoods and willow trees,” Wire said. The loss of the trees also causes other problems, because river willows are really good at stabilizing stream banks to prevent erosion, he said.

That’s why he and several students from The Crossing braved the cold Friday to wrap hardware cloth, a type of metal fencing, around the bases of large trees growing on the east side of the St. Marys River along the grounds of the Old Fort, 1201 Spy Run Ave. The Crossing works with students who have struggled in traditional school settings to improve their academic success, provide job training and offer faith-based character education.

The hardware cloth prevents beavers from chewing on the tree bark underneath, protecting the tree, Wire said. People aren’t allowed to hunt or trap wild animals in city parks or within 500 feet of them, which would include the area around the Old Fort and Headwaters Park.

Okay, first of all, we’re really happy you’re wrapping trees instead of trapping straight outta the gate. Maybe the photographer is confused but that’s not a beaver chew mark. Beavers don’t just take the bark, like  nibbling the chocolate outer coating off an oreo. They want to sharpen their teeth on the creamy inner goodness too, and they want that tree to fall so the part they REALLY want, all those leaves and little branches, falls down where they and their kids can reach it.
Second of all, we’re not wild about hardware cloth. It’s a pain to cut for one – and fasten – and I’m not convinced its strong enough to discourage some really hungry beaver in winter. And btw you should leave room for the tree to grow. And for Pete’s sake your name is WIRE so wtree_wraphy didn’t you use WIRE like almost every smart person who wants this work?

Well, we’re glad you’re wrapping trees, anyway. Baby steps, right?
mathTrying out a new simple graphic for kids this summer. What do you think?

Things that shouldn’t be and things that should.

   Posted by heidi08 On December - 2 - 2016Comments Off on Things that shouldn’t be and things that should.

Some things just shouldn’t happen. Really. And I say that as a woman with a lot of patience for ridiculous things. But some things just shouldn’t even exist. Like this, for instance.

Rogers Mayor pardons “Bart the Beaver”

Rogers Mayor Greg Hines pardoned “Bart the Beaver” in a comedic Facebook post Wednesday.

“Mayor Hines and Councilman Kendall met with Bart the Beaver tonight to talk about the trees at Lake Atalanta,” the post reads.

“Bart decided to turn away from his life of crime, and was given a full pardon. We wish you the best of luck, Bart! #RogersRocks

The post referenced a satiric Facebook page called “Save Bart the Beaver,” which has gone viral in the wake of an investigation at Lake Atlanta.

Tuesday, the city and police held a press conference saying someone used a hatchet to chop down trees around the lake.

But Wednesday, Ben Cline with the City of Rogers said experts came in and determined a beaver or multiple beavers could possibly be to blame instead.

“We had Arkansas Game and Fish come down here and take a look, and they found some more evidence there might possibly be some beavers down here at Lake Atalanta.” The city said it’s not ruling out vandalism just yet.

The city planted thousands of trees in the park, so the cost was relatively low because they bought in bulk. But it could still cost thousands of dollars to replace those trees, White said.

Lake Atalanta was closed for a year of renovations. It was reopened with a ribbon cutting celebration on October 30th.

If our mayor posed for this photo, Jon would be deciding whether to pay my bail. There’s no question about it, because I would have created a crime. Would you like to see the evidence their ‘experts’ can’t identify definitively? You know you would, so don’t even bother answering. Here’s the head-scratching crime that leaves all of Alabama confused about the cat burglar’s identity.

Gosh, I wonder what that could be? Apparently the hatchet-wielders took down several trees that same night. They obviously were trying to show off for each other.   Almost like a gang activity. Sheesh. Just so you know in advance, if holes ever show up in your trees Atalanta think woodpecker, and if all the leaves suddenly fall off, think AUTUMN.

Meanwhile the Mendenhall beavers will be at the Mendenhall library Wednesday night along with our old friends Bob Armstrong and Mary Willson. We’re so proud of the wonderful work he’s done with the beaver patrol. Our own Lory met Bob in Juneau and he showed her around.  If you can’t make it yourself you should really just look at the book on the left margin.  It remains my favorite collection of beaver photos and my screen saver to this very day.

Wildlife Wednesdays: beavers at Mendenhall

The Alaska Wildlife Alliance presents its speaker series, Wildlife Wednesdays, at the Mendenhall Valley Public Library from 7-8 p.m. on Dec. 7. The presentation “Beavers of the Mendenhall Glacier Recreation Area” will feature guest speakers Mary Willson, Bob Armstrong and Chuck Caldwell.

Wildlife Wednesdays are free and open to the public. Willson, a retired professor of ecology and columnist for the Empire, and Caldwell, Vice President of Juneau Trout Unlimited, both volunteer for Juneau’s “Beaver Patrol,” a group of naturalists and concerned citizens who have been working in the Dredge Creek and Dredge Lake area for about seven years. Armstrong is a photographer, author and retired fisheries biologist.

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Beaver dam at Mendenhall glacier: Bob Armstrong

Here comes Beaver Claws!

   Posted by heidi08 On December - 1 - 2016Comments Off on Here comes Beaver Claws!

A beaver battle: Conservation Commission keeps the floods at bay

NORTH SMITHFIELD – Trudging neck-deep through muddy water, a representative from Beaver Solutions Inc. made room for a large tube amid a massive pile of branches in the wetlands at Cedar Swamp earlier this month.

It was the company’s second visit to the 69-acre North Smithfield property, and one deemed necessary by members of the town’s Conservation Commission.

Beavers had built another dam, blocking water flow – a nuisance that could not only ruin a nearby access road used by National Grid, but eventually flood a highway ramp and the back yards of residents abutting the property, affecting their septic systems.

“We’re not trying to kick the beavers out,” explained Commission Chairman Paul Soares. “But we can have some affect on controlling flooding.”

Located right by the Greenville Road exit off of Route 146, the massive plot of land was gifted to the commission in 2010, and has been in their care since. It has a 20-acre pond, and is home to “just about every type of wildlife you can think of,” according to Soares including deer, turkeys, ducks, fisher cats and raccoons.

The group has built a dozen duck boxes, nesting spots for the birds, which, due to deforestation across North America, have been hard-pressed to find the proper spots. The boxes must be installed when ponds are frozen by cutting a hole with an ice chisel and driving a pole down 10 feet. Every winter Soares goes out pulling a sled full of equipment, cleans the boxes, then counts the eggs and reports them to DEM.

Of the birds, Ayala noted “They’re really striking. They’re beautiful.”  The beavers, meanwhile, have been an ongoing problem. “We’re continually working there and making sure the road stays open,” said Ayala.

The commission researched a humane way to deal with the problem and came up with the water diversion system: essentially a pipe through the dam to allow water to flow past. The first was installed in 2014, and a second one was brought in this month.

“It’s working,” Soares said. “Beavers are hard to stop.”

Yes they are. And don’t you just love when conservation commissions actually conserve things? I’m so pleased with this article and news that they’re rehiring Mike to do a second install 2 years later. What an awesome habitat for these beavers, who are clearly using every inch!

I woke up horrified to see that the calendar said it’s DECEMBER. I have squandered my three months off post beaver festival and now it’s time to get to work! Grant applications, silent auction items, wooing volunteers. Not to mention Christmas presents and decorations. Good lord.  I think that horrible election stole my November and I want it back!

Apparently I’m not the only one panicked by the season.

The beaver that caused property damage to a dollar store in Maryland.

This beaver declared its own war on Christmas

This beaver doesn’t give a dam about your no shoe policy!

A curious Maryland beaver left its life in the wild to shop for Christmas decorations this week — perusing the shelves of its local dollar store in search of the perfect holiday item.

The critter-turned-customer was caught on camera Monday night causing property damage at a store in Charlotte Hall, which is about an hour south of Washington, D.C.

As an law enforcement officer, you just never know what you’re next call might be,” the sheriff’s office wrote on its Facebook page Wednesday.

Officers eventually “apprehended” the beaver and brought it to a wildlife rehabilitation center unharmed, cops said.

The photos of the creature rummaging through the Christmas goods have since gone viral — sparking a slew of jokes on Facebook.

“He’s going to be in trouble with the wife when he goes home without the Christmas tree,” wrote one user.

“This would be a great advertisement for that tree company,” another added. “Our trees look so real even the beavers go after them.”

OHHH! I love those photos of that poor little beaver scrounging through all that CRAP in a dollar store trying to find something of value. It’s the wrong time of year for a dispersal so I can’t imagine what he’s doing. I expected it to be freezing but the weather for Charlotte is listed as 54 degrees today – 12 degrees warmer than here. Maybe global warming has confused him? Maybe something happened to his lodge or family and he’s lost?

Or maybe he was looking for a Christmas tree after all?