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

The Martinez Beavers


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Beavers have a friend in retired SUNY ESF professor

Dietland Muller-Schwarze, of Manlius, holds a piece of artwork of beavers given to him by the U.S. Department of Agriculture as part of a "Lifetime Achievement Award" he received for his 25 years of research and other work involving the animal (David Figura |

Dietland Muller-Schwarze, 78, a retired SUNY ESF professor in wildlife biology, studied the animal in parts of the Adirondacks and in the Alleghany State Park for more than 25 years. He wrote two books on them — the most recent, “The Beaver: Its Life and Impact,” was published in 2011.

They do a lot of good. Their dams create wetlands, which cleanse the water. The water percolates slowly through the area and gets purified, everything from bacteria to toxins get taken out. In addition, these wetlands create habitat for other large animals, birds, insects and plants. In the Adirondacks, beaver-made wetlands are assisting the comeback of moose. Finally, beaver-made, wetland/meadows were attractive to the early settlers of this country, who drained them and easily turned them into farm land because of the fertile soil.

Nowadays, we know there are many ways to design and regulate things like stream flows by doing things like putting pipes in beaver dams so that beavers and humans can live peacefully together. There are such things as “beaver deceivers’ that can be set up in front of culverts so that beavers can’t block them up.

Oh Dietland! I don’t think I’m ready for you to retire unless you use your free time to start a Worth A Dam Manlius chapter? What will all those forestry students do without you? I remember how firmly I clutched your book and scoured through its pages when I was on the beaver subcommittee. I gave a copy to the city council who must have at least read the jacket. One year you donated a copy for our silent auction and I remember your email praising Worth A Dam as one of my most prized possessions. Well, enjoy your retirement. And let us know if you feel inclined for a little volunteer work?

Sigh. Why do the good ones always retire? Here’s someone who’s NOT retiring.

Central Frontenac considers new beaver dam bylaw

EMC News – Out of necessity, Central Frontenac Public Works Manager Mike Richardson has become something of an expert on beaver dams.  As such, he was at Central Frontenac Council’s regular meeting last week in Sharbot Lake with a draft bylaw to help his department deal with this ongoing problem.

“Section 1.1. says ‘no person shall permit a beaver dam or other obstruction on property.

If he’s an expert on beaver dams I will eat my labrador. Our old city manager called himself an expert on beaver dams once. Permit me to doubt. Here’s another one who’s apparently not retired…or arrested.

Sterile as a beaver

There’s a stat that Denis Fournier repeats often, both when he writes and during the course of our phone interview. The average beaver, he says, cuts down 200 trees per year. “A beaver colony can have nine to 12 beavers in it. So that’s 2000 trees per year,” says Fournier, who works as a wildlife management technician for the City of Montreal. “After humans, they’re the animal the most able to change their environment. They can cause a tremendous amount of damage.”

For people like Fournier, responsible for maintaining the ecosystems at Montreal’s nature parks, that was a huge cause for worry. So the City conducts its own struggle against the beavers, and in the case of Parc-nature du Bois-de-l’Île-Bizard, located just off of Pierrefonds, that means capturing them, tagging them, and finally vasectomizing them.

The vasectomy program, in place since 1995, came about after beavers were seen as being an increasing threat to ecosystems around Montreal. Thus far only six beavers have been sterilized, all of them in Île-Bizard. Fournier used to go out into the wetlands himself and set the traps, which would then have to be checked every day so as not to traumatize or endanger the beavers. Nowadays he’s too busy with other responsibilities, so the city hires a professional trapper to do the work. If they find any younger, unsterilized beavers that move into the park, they’re taken to the Biodome, sedated, sterilized, implanted with a microchip and then released 24 hours later into the wild. They continue to set traps in the fall so that they can monitor the beavers.

I am speechless. What is wrong with people? Have they lost their minds and all sense of human decency? Are there some kind of toxic spores in beaver scat that make people insane? I found this article cheerfully posted on the Beavers:Wetlands and Wildlife facebook page, but I’m assuming they hadn’t read through the vasectomy details. (Nope: Owen says vasectomy is better than trapping. I’m not so sure.) There is even a photo of the operation in process. I don’t see the word VET anywhere in its glossy pages, so I’m going to assume that  someone from city staff performs these delicacies themselves. Maybe Mr. Fournier and his son. Just to be clear, it is true that in general vasectomies are far far more simple than hysterectomies to perform. But remember that all beaver sex organs are internal, so we’re not talking about a simple snip here.

The article says that the project was started in 1995. And since then 6 beavers were successfully treated. That’s barely one successfully surgery every two years. I guess if a few beavers are killed in the process, it’s time well spent.

Montreal is an island where the water recently was declared unsafe to drink. It is home to about 4,000.000 people who mostly speak French. Its 141 square miles boast an apparently uncounted square miles of water, because even though its surrounded by water, I can’t find the statistics for that anywhere on the Google. This is the only part of the article that came even close to making me laugh

There could be anywhere up to 100 beavers around Montreal, though not of all them in city parks, which makes containing them an ongoing process.

11 colonies of beavers in a city half the size of New Orleans? Must go, I have letters to write.