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

The Martinez Beavers

Hot dam! Good beaver news!

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It’s time we challenged agricultural hegemony

The response by farmers’ leaders to the idea of ‘rewilding’ shows how unaccustomed to challenge they are


Following successful beaver reintroductions in two parts of Scotland, the first release in Wales could be about to happen. Photograph: Peter Lilja/Getty Images

Their dams, burrows and ditches and the branches they drag into the water create habitats for a host of other species: water voles, otters, ducks, frogs, fish and insects. In both Sweden and Poland, the trout in beaver ponds are on average larger than those in the other parts of the streams: the ponds provide them with habitats and shelter they cannot find elsewhere²,³. Young salmon grow faster and are in better condition where beavers make their dams than in other stretches4. The total weight of all the creatures living in the water may be between two and five times greater in beaver ponds than in the undammed sections5. Beavers slow rivers down. They reduce scouring and erosion. They create small wetlands and boggy areas. They trap much of the load that rivers carry6, ensuring that the water runs more clearly.

Beavers slow rivers down. They reduce scouring and erosion. They create small wetlands and boggy areas. They trap much of the load that rivers carry6, ensuring that the water runs more clearly.

Excellent beaver defense in this article. Where’s it from? Since it uses a word like “hegemony” we know it can’t be American because that’s too many syllables for US readers. Maybe you’re thinking ‘it’s just a blog’. But it’s a blog for the GUARDIAN, and its a blog with FOOTNOTES. And it’s really really good. I think it’s primary argument is that farming interests are treated as the only rural interests and ignore 95% of the population. He goes on to talk about reintroducing Lynx and halting the badger cull, but it’s a great read. With great footnotes.

Yesterday was a good beaver news cycle. There was also this from Idaho

Beaver pond in the high water of June. SE Idaho. Beaver remake creeks, streams, springs, even seeps. They usually greatly increase the diversity of wildlife in an area with their ponds. It is surprisingly hard to get Fish and Game departments to take them seriously, have a rational trapping season and to keep people from just killing them. Copyright Ralph Maughan. June 2013

Ralph Maughan

Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University with specialties in natural resource politics, public opinion, interest groups, political parties, voting and elections. Aside from academic publications, he is author or co-author of three hiking/backpacking guides.

Of course I looked up Dr Maughan and found that he is in Pocotello Idaho, which (as it happens) is where our friend Mike Settel got the grant from Audubon to count beavers so I wrote both of them to make sure they were friends! (Because that’s what beaver cruise directors do). I was a little chilled by the “educated and scientific” comments on his post though. Check this out from someone who calls himself CodyCoyote.

But here is an interesting fact about Beavers. When a pair mate, they will have 4-6 kits. When the time comes as the kids grow up , the parent beavers will selectively kill all but one male and one female from their litter, and drive them off to find a new territory of their own. It’s their way of dispersing, increasing habitat and domain , and assuring good genetic viability. But it’s a little draconian to us primates.

Beaver death panels? Just so we’re clear, this isn’t true, has never been true, and would never be true. A parent wouldn’t nuture children for two years just to set up their own little “HUNGER GAMES” right in the middle of their living room and see who lives. What frightens me about this comment is the pseudo-science of it. He uses appropriate words like “diperse” and “litter” and “viability” and I’m going to bet he worked (or works) for some government agency involved in the regulation of beavers. USDA springs to mind, but maybe it was USFS or Fish and Game. He’s educated enough to toss out words like draconian and he is still astonishingly beaver ignorant.

It’s also why you cannot transplant more than a mated pair of beaver anywhere, much as you’d like to have several colonies of beavers out there. I know of a couple instances where conservation-minded ranchers actually tried to restore beavers to their stream in the Cody area here, and they plunked down as many as six animals at once in the same stream basin. They immediately eliminated themselves by infighting. For not understanding beaver behavior, they overdid it and underachieved their goal of rebuilding riparian areas overgrazed by cattle in critical winter range for wildlife.

Information is not a banquet table, Cody. You can’t select randomly the tidbits you might like (the pasta salad and cheese slices) and put them together on a plate based on your own preferences. Yes beavers are territorial and won’t tolerate being dumped together with 5 strangers to happily start a new commune. This is why you relocate INTACT families. I know its not as convenient, but its a lot more successful.

Where did Cody get his information you wonder? A field manual for beaver management from USDA? I think the reason rumors like this and the Belarus killing get such success is that folks like to think about beavers actions are ruthless, so that their own actions look justified in response.


Cheer from Cheryl who made the 4:30 trek this am and was duly rewarded.

Kit 4:50 Escobar bridge
Checking out raccoon on bank.
Mom come by and wrestled with kit then both went to annex where mom climbed bank for fennel. She sat below bridge with kit,wrestled some more before coming back to lodge.
Second adult went towards annex 5:10.
Beaver working on the dam at 6:05 until 6:20.
Mom mallard and 2 big babies

Whooohooo! I’m glad Cheryl got to see baby 1 even if it was too dark for photos! Soon my pretties!


2010 Kits: Cheryl Reynolds