A miss is as good as 400 miles

   Posted by heidi08 On February - 23 - 2017ADD COMMENTS

stateofLouise Ramsay posted this photo of what looks to be the well-attended start of the beaver conference yesterday and I was so struck with such gripping envy that I couldn’t remind myself why I wasn’t there listening greedily to every word. Thankfully my mother also sent along this news story and my sanity was restored, (if only briefly). Apparently 1-5 was closed at Medford due to snow and rock slides. Well, okay then.

snowYesterday was the day I most mind missing, (well one of the three anyway). Because it was the day that the Wales project was presenting and the day that Gerhard Schwab was presenting on the idea that most of what was needed to manage beavers in Germany was managing the people – their enormous fears and reluctance to share. Ahem! Which of course, is a topic near and dear to my heart.

This morning there will be a tribal welcome breakfast and I was supposed to present at 9:30. Then after a break Mike Callahan will have a big announcement which I will tell you about later because he asked me not to spoil his thunder here. Both Mike and Sherry of the Sierra Wildlife Coalition said they’d send me tidbits, so hopefully we’ll hear a little of what’s going on. In the meantime, I am hopeful that a few of you will enjoy this and feel like you are there. I guess it’s practically 9:30 now!

Beaver Trifecta

   Posted by heidi08 On February - 22 - 2017ADD COMMENTS

The Canadian Town of Langley, just outside Vancouver, is facing some beaver challenges. Lucky for them they’re close enough to the work of Furbearer DefenderTheres to be surrounded by smart advice. Let’s just hope their wise enough to take it.

Animal advocates, Township of Langley to discuss policy around killing nuisance animals

Animal advocates are meeting with the Township of Langley council Monday night to chip away at policies focused on nuisance animals. Fur-Bearers Spokesperson Adrian Nelson says the Township is hiring trappers to come in and kill beavers because they’re causing floods in the wetlands when they build dams.

“You know, the issue’s persisted there for probably decades, you know if not longer, so it just seems like a poor approach to keep doing the same thing when clearly it’s not working.”

mike & adrian

Adrien Nelson training with Mike Callahan

Nelson calls the trapping a band-aid solution.

“Having a beaver in the area really isn’t an issue in itself, it’s just the flooding that they cause, so if you could put in infrastructure to control that flooding, you know, stop that flooding from happening, than you really don’t have any problems with the beavers being there.”

Nelson says he’d like to see pipe systems and fences installed instead behind the dams to prevent flooding.

Hurray for Adrien and sensible Beaver policy! I have to say, the man is getting pretty deft in his comments. I mean tossing out the ‘sensible approach’ and suggesting that trapping is just wasting time and money. That’s smart. Adrien met Mike at the first beaver conference and they did some installation together after that. Think how many smart people there will be in the world after this week.

There is a lovely interview with author Judith Schwartz about water scarcity today published in drmsriram that mentions the work of several beaver friends.

How Water Scarcity Became a Worldwide Problem

We might ask what kept the water cycle functioning before we came in and we chopped down trees and plowed up land and built cities.

One answer was beavers. California had beavers throughout much of the state. Beavers are a keystone species. They’re known as nature’s engineers. They build dams, and those dams hold water. As water filters through, it creates very rich soil and wetlands, which hold water in the landscape. The driest state in our country is Nevada. There are projects in Nevada going on right now of inviting beavers back onto the landscape. They started with ranchers, restoring the soil, and then the beavers came. Now, they have much more water. They have rivers and streams that are now flowing year round. You get snow that falls from the Sierras, and then it gets held in the soil or it flows away.

Knowledge@Wharton: The same thing could very well happen in California because you’re talking about the same type of demographic where you have snow in the high elevations that’s coming down to the lower areas.

Schwartz: Absolutely. In California, there is now an organization called Occidental Arts and Ecology Center, and their WATER Institute has a “Bring Back the Beaver” campaign. There are many beaver fans out there.

Well, yes there are, thanks for thinking of us. Obviously the program mentioned in Nevada is the one started by Carol Evans when she worked for the Bureau of Land Managment. And the OAEC is our friends Brock Dolman and Kate Lundquist who come to the beaver festival most years. Beavers save water. And we need Water. Point taken!

I read this yesterday and smiled broadly. Are we surprised that eco hero Paul Watson got his start with beavers?  No we are not. This is from a recently published Earth Island interview.

Let’s go back to your early days of eco-activism.

I was raised in an eastern Canadian fishing village right on the Maine border, called St. Andrews. I used to swim with these beavers in a beaver pond when I was 10. I went back when I was 11 and found there were no more beavers. I found that trappers had taken them all so I became quite angry and that winter I began to walk the trap lines and free animals from the traps and destroy the traps. So that was really my first venture into activism.

Friends with Beavers

   Posted by heidi08 On February - 21 - 2017ADD COMMENTS

Did you see Bob’s post yesterday? His debut as a beaver blogger and it was PERFECT! Great margins, great links and proper search words. I was impressed and suggested a full time gig but he shrugged his shoulders and said he was happy to help when needed but he had other mountains to climb.

So you get me.

16797613_1249741255104466_6528058353456923453_oI spent yesterday working laboriously recording the audio for my talk and then trying to sync it up with the video so it can be played in my absence. It was a ton of work because it’s like trying to sew a seam from both ends at once,  but it’s finally done and I’m fairly happy with the result. I’ll post it on Thursday which is the day it will air. Today I saw that a new logo announcing the conference is much better, and thought I’d would share.

16807784_10208399848810541_899214589623300986_nYesterday I saw on Facebook that Caitlin was worried about her Mountain House beavers in all the flooding – for obvious reasons. Apparently she went down with her father in the evening to make sure they were okay.  It filled me with strange affection to think that there were other people in the world afflicted with my odd concern for beavers. And when I heard the charming audio that accompanied the video my heart nearly burst. Turn the sound wayyy up.

Beavers love Caitlin AND her Dad.

European beavers are thriving — but

   Posted by Bob Kobres On February - 20 - 2017ADD COMMENTS

Why Bavarians are eating beaver with their beer

There’s no new beaver news so far this week but there were a few blurbs from last week that Heidi didn’t mention. This one from Germany is sort of a mixed bag.

Apparently there are too many beavers in Bavaria. But they’re also simultaneously under protection status. Luckily those clever southerners have found a solution.

Beaver reportedly goes great with bacon and truffles, cooked in a Bockbier, or in a casserole – at least according to Die Welt.

“Beaver tastes delicious,” one hunter told the newspaper.

The woodland creatures were once nearly exterminated in Germany due to over-hunting, and they were later placed under nature protection status. Now that they’ve made a comeback in recent years, there are perhaps too many of them.

But according to Bavarian environment and CSU politician, Josef Göppel, as long as you employ the ‘protection through use’ principle, it’s okay to serve them for dinner.

“If the population develops so encouragingly, people can also use the beaver,” Göppel told Die Welt.

There are now around 30,000 beavers across Germany, 20,000 of them in Bavaria alone.

For farmers, the semiaquatic rodents are like a “plague”, writes Die Welt – they cause fields and meadows to be plunged under water, and they cut down trees to build their homes. Bavaria provides €450,000 annually to make up for the damage.

If the damage becomes too great, beavers may be hunted with permission from the responsible authorities and in 2015, 1,435 were “taken out of nature,” as it’s officially called.

After inspection by an official veterinarian, the beaver meat can be served, though the animal’s special protection means it cannot be sold commercially or placed on a restaurant menu.

Instead, beaver dishes can be seen in private venues, such as on the plates of sports clubs members, or of so-called Stammtisch groups (people who regularly meet).

Hunter Jürgen Füssl in Altenstadt, Upper Palatinate told Die Welt that he serves beaver to his friends and acquaintances, using the fur to make himself a hat.

Bavarian Farmer Association president Walter Heidl sees the ability to hunt beavers as allowing for peaceful coexistence between agriculture and nature protection.

“Most nature protectionists in Bavaria know how beaver tastes,” Heidl said.

At least the taking of beaver is limited by the strict rules. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that more beavers fell victim to BMWs than the appetite for beaver!

On a lighter note, beaver are changing the balance of power! :*)=

UKIP loses council seat to a beaver

Local by-elections were a bit of an oddball affair this week, with both the Conservatives and the Lib Dems losing seats to local parties and the Greens gaining one from UKIP on a pro-beaver platform: 

Green candidate in Lydbrook stood on restoring beavers to Greathough Brook to reduce flooding. I know that was worth staying up for

 That’s it for today.

The best laid plans of men and beavers

   Posted by heidi08 On February - 20 - 2017ADD COMMENTS

thwartYesterday highway 5 was flooded at Willows and it occurred to me that we might not be going to the conference. Of course the natural way to sneak around the back is by Chico and the Oroville dam, (haha).  Today there is a snow and wind advisory for Medford and for Shasta going over to Oregon. Hardy souls like Paul and Louse are taking the coastal route to ocean their way north. And hardy veterans like Sherry and Ted Guzzy are taking the sierra way to mountain their way up. Just in case you wondered, there are snow advisories there too. And snow expected in Tiller all through the week just in case we happen to make it.

This morning I’m confronting the reality that this is not the conditions conducive to getting to a beaver conference if you are a woman with a cane that can’t jump over a puddle or walk three feet in snow.  I wish I was able to do this, but just don’t think I can.

I talked with Leonard about recording my talk and getting it so he can download it and play it there anyway. I think it will be possible although it will take some doing. I wish there was a way to get the whole conference on online so we could watch it. But I don’t think there’s anyone with that kind of bandwidth or cell contract. In the meantime we might have to content ourselves with updates. And reports from those on the ground.

We switched the Prius for my mom’s Subaru for this, and packed for the week. I made the presentation after Christmas and I’ve been practicing every day. Bob Kobres took a lesson in blogging and is eager to try his skills. Yesterday I firmed and then scrambled plans to have Paul and Louise for dinner. But preparing isn’t always the same thing as being ready, I guess.


Wagons Ho-Ho-Ho!

   Posted by heidi08 On February - 19 - 2017ADD COMMENTS

It’s the last time you’ll be hearing from me for a while  and lord knows that must be a kind of Sunday comfort.  Tomorrow is Bob’s grand debut so don’t forget to give him plenty of positive feedback.

conference Our new rule is only good news on Sunday, so I have a few fun things to share before I go. Paul and Louise are coming to dinner Tuesday night and maybe Leonard and Lois too, so we have lots to look forward to. But don’t feel left out,  you get treats as well. The first is a lovely discussion of ecological engineers from our old friend Mary Willson in Juneau.

On the trails: Ecological engineers

We use the word “engineer” in a confusing variety of ways and contexts, but here I mean to refer to organisms that create physical structures or changes in the environment — physical changes that affect other kinds of organisms. The concept is still very broad — one could say (and some researchers do so) that a forest of trees or large kelp, or a tallgrass prairie or an eelgrass bed, produces an environment in which temperature, humidity, air or water currents, precipitation patterns, or soils may be altered, thus affecting many other organisms by providing habitat or access to resources.

However, here I want to consider other “engineers” — those that deliberately, intentionally make or modify physical structures for their own purposes, with collateral consequences for other organisms.

The most well-known ecological engineers in the natural world are beavers. By building dams, they impound water, raising the water table, creating ponds, sometimes preventing floods, but also flooding low-lying areas. Although they may instinctively respond to the sound and feel of running water by trying to build a dam, they make deliberate choices about the size and shape of a dam and its component parts; they also maintain their structures continually. Beaver ponds provide good habitat for fish, especially juveniles, aquatic insects, various birds, and certain plants, although they obviously destroy portions of the adjacent area by flooding it. Some dams are hundreds of yards long and some are many feet high, depending on the terrain. A well-constructed, well-maintained beaver dam can last for many years, and its effects on the landscape may persist long after the beavers have moved on: the pond gradually fills with sediment and dead vegetation and eventually turns into a meadow.

We’re number ONE. Beavers make it happen! Mary goes on to describe other engineers but of course we’re spec-ist around her and we only care about the first one. If you would like to be smart and entertained, go read the others and learn about the wanna be-avers. I’m just going to bask in the recognition that beavers are the job-creators of an entire community.

The second wonderful thing is a photo I came across and having been saving for the right moment to share. It’s titled “Beaver playing the flute” for obvious reasons. All I know about this photo is on the caption below. But isn’t that fun?

Beaver, Playing the Flute? (by Alexander Koenders)

The third thing I want to share is the AMAZING donation we received from artist Sara Aycock. She’s a very clever woman in Boise Idaho with a book coming out next fall. I fell in love with her “Victorian Animals” series and she was crazy generous sendng 5 beautifully framed giclee prints that will completely knock your socks off. Each print comes with a framed character description as well. I’m partial of course to Mr. Beaverton. You need to go right now to her etsy store and support this kind of generosity and talent, because something tells me there will be a line waiting to bid on these delightful items at the auction.



The Rodney Dangerfield of beavers

   Posted by heidi08 On February - 18 - 2017Comments Off on The Rodney Dangerfield of beavers

Apparently I insulted an entire state yesterday. Which is very often par for the course, I know, but still unsettling to wake up to. I am not particularly dismissive of a single state am I? (Well, maybe Oklahoma, but after what happened to our EPA yesterday does that really count?) In fact, I remember being pretty darn snotty to the state that I sometimes call beaver Mecca  when they suddenly published a laughably stupid article. Yes, I can be condescending, but I like to think I offend all regions equally.

(Next week Bob will be posting from Georgia and I’m sure he’ll offend no one.)

Sorry, my floor heater stopped working this morning and things feel kind of unmerciful without it. Add to that I received the winter newsletter of Beavers: Wetlands and Wildlife yesterday which contains a retrospective on our story ten years later.  Failure is an orphan, they say. But apparently success has many parents.


Not exactly the way I remember it, but now that I’m done croaking I can say that there are also lovely articles also about our good friends in the Sierra Wildlife Coalition and Bob and Jane Kobres in Georgia! Which is wonderfully fitting and I’m sure they won’t spend spend time complaining ungratefully like me. Our story notwithstanding, the BWW newsletter is a  wonderful resource with a fine summary of all things beaver. If you want to receive your own copy of the newsletter, go here to subscribe.