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

The Martinez Beavers

Day: March 10, 2012

Today’s post has turned out to be a smorgasboard of beaver tales, so take a little bit of everything and when you find something you love go back for more! This morning I should start by saying I saw two beaver from the footbridge, and they swam around each other and even did a brief ‘push-match’ before ducking out of sight. Our two fancy hooded mergansers flew in and made a nice landing for a second act, and the mallards gave them wide berth. I saw new people photographing and we chatted. They had recently moved here from Spain and had read about our beavers on our website. How’s that for cosmopolitan beavers? That made it impossible to resist posting this again!

Green_Acre_Radio_Urban_Beavers.mp3 Here’s a lovely beaver radio program from Green Acres Radio in Washington. It talks about volunteers planting trees for beavers, which apparently is allowed in many cities that aren’t ours.

Every spring urban beavers come to a hidden park south of the Northgate Mall. They come to build dams. Most of the dams are appreciated by the humans they’re forced to co-exist with, but not all.

“As you see it’s right near the culvert here so Seattle Public Utilities has to take it out every time. But they’re moving around and I’m sure they’ll be moving into other natural areas as well.” Ruth Williams is a volunteer forest steward at the Beaver Pond Natural Area. Once called Park 6, the area has been transformed by beavers into a thriving wetland. The dams beavers build hold back water, making ponds that attract wildlife. The pond filters and cleans rainwater. Williams points to a large pile of branches in the middle of the pond. “That’s the lodge right out there. Yeah, the beaver lodge. And then the main dam, the first dam, is right over here.”

Fellow volunteer Frank Backus says, “They’re really doing what the watershed needs, a way of holding back the water so it doesn’t go rushing down and cause flooding down below.

Oh Washington! Such beaver wisdom in flagrant display! Even your volunteers are smarter than our scientists!  Well I guess all of Washington isn’t that advanced because there was some tree vandalism. But listen to what the program suggests as a solution – EDUCATION!!!!!!!! Imagine that!

This next delightful read is about a Canadian ambassador’s introduction of beaver to China and will make you smile several times.  I especially like the confusion about what a beaver IS.

Beaver Tales: Brian Evans, the Pursuit of China and the Perils of Beaver Diplomacy

Paula Simons

The University of Alberta Press has just published Evans’ new book, a surprisingly and delightfully funny autobiography called Pursuing China: Memoir of a Beaver Liaison Officer. My Saturday column profiles Evans, his remarkable life, and his life-long love affair with all things Chinese – here’s Evans’ account of how he became Canada’s official Beaver Liaison Officer, and saved Canada from the threat of national disgrace.

What could Canada offer? Well, it could keep to its tradition of following the American example and offer animals for the Beijing Zoo. But what kinds of animals?

What better than the beaver: Castor canadensis , dammer of rivers, felter of hats, prodigious breeder, and the symbol of Canada? Surely the Chinese, schooled in subtlety, would not fail to get the point. Cast your beaver upon Pacific waters, it was thought, and they will come back as pandas. Of course, we were offering one of nature’s most prolific creatures, known to China since the days of Beijing Man, in exchange for one of nature’s most reticent ones. But then, it was that sort of thinking that gave us the sixty-three-cent dollar.

Go read the whole thing, it’s wonderfully done and will teach you some excellent history! Not to mention that learning about Chinese attitudes towards beavers will get you ready for tomorrow’s treasure on the podcast interview with Michael Pollock, who in addition to studying beavers and coho and steelhead and streambeds ALSO went to study beavers in Mongolia!

Tired yet? Wait, there’s more. First an update on our new famous beaver friend in the NorthEast. We had a good chat about her beavers and her neighbors who aren’t loving them; she bought Mike Callahan’s DVD and I got the two of them talking about the one pond she’s worried about near her driveway. She posted about our exchange here. We talked lodges, wildlife and wetlands as well as when to keep an eye out for new kits! She says she already has seen a dramatic difference in birds and wildlife!

Just one more story to go and this is a heartwarming tale of beaver rescue from near Portland OR. Nice to see a family taking care of their furry neighbors and I’m thrilled that Audubon agreed to help out!