Because the beaver isn't just an animal; it's an ecosystem!

The Martinez Beavers

People Deceivers

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I thought I’d dedicate today to the spectacularly bad attempts made around the country to ‘deceive’ beavers without actually reading any instructions or talking to an expert. Let’s be charitable and assume that at least some of these attempts are truly efforts by well-meaning folks who just don’t know any better, but I am certain that others are purposeful fails: so that DOT or DPW can throw up their hands at those awful ‘compassionistas’ and say ‘see we tried your way, but it doesn’t work. Now we have no choice but to kill them.’

Beaver deceiver helps reduce flooding but preserves habitat:Seattle Public Utilities and the Adopt-A-Stream Foundation are putting the finishing touches on a “beaver deceiver” on Thornton Creek near Northgate.

Any discussion of faulty flow devices must of necessity include two categories: the first is simply an error in nomenclature – meaning someone installs a flow device and calls it a ‘beaver deceiver’ when its really more of a flexible leveler or castor master – these  labels refer to a protected pipe that controls dam height. This is the most benign of offenses and much slack must be cut to those who wield this effort or the media who simply mislabels it or misquotes. If the device works what do we care if it is named correctly? Maybe I’ve been grading on too much of a curve for too long, but I say if it appears that there’s a batsqueak’s chance in hell that it will solve the problem, they can call it anything they want and we should classify this as a Type I error and give the installers a cookie anyway.

It’s likely the DPW intends to inspect the integrity of the “beaver deceiver” system once the water recedes and make repairs if needed. Thus they’re clearing the nightly dam installed by the beavers around the pipe. (Photo 2)

Which is not to say that the naming issue isn’t important and any beaver management expert is likely to get fairly hot under the collar if you call the wrong thing by the wrong label. (Trust me, I know.) Even now Jimmy Taylor of USDA in Oregon is fiercly working to write a paper that clarifies the different labels and puts definitions in print so that there will be some consistency in the terms. Still, a rose by any other name….Beaver beggars can’t be choosers.

Of course not all cases of mistaken identity are so benign. More egregious cases of deceit occur with Type II Errors, where we can only drop our jaws in a WTF homage. These are almost certainly deliberate attempts to fool the public, or harm the beavers, or sometimes both. Here are a few breath-taking examples of Type II Errors.

Souris and Area Branch PEI Wildlife Federation

I believe there actually is a kind of Type III Error which I’ve seen more often recently. I would define it as ‘trying a little bit’. In a Type III error there seems to be some recognition of the tools for beaver management and some acknowledgment that these sometimes work, but a failure of commitment to the concept so that the tools are haphazardly employed. A perforated pipe through a dam might be a Type III error, or a short pipe with a tiny fence around it. These attempts are difficult to catagorize because it isn’t immedilately clear whether they are attempts to fool the public or the beavers or just the actions of very lazy installers. But they do deserve their own label for now. An example of this is very near by in Cordelia with a beaver colony we’ve been watching out for. And if our city staff doesn’t get out and put the filter back on Skip’s flow device soon, Martinez will become another one!

Almost Clemson Pond Leveler in Cordelia: Cheryl Reynolds

Still learning? Here’s some basics: Flow devices noclemature.