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Human “Beaver Deceivers”

   Posted by heidi08 On April - 20 - 2008Comments Off on Human “Beaver Deceivers”

At the April 16th meeting the mayor invited Mary Tappel to rebut the subcommittee’s report (and if you haven’t read this morning’s Gazette article about this meeting you really should). Ms. Tappel referred to parts of it as mythology and said that the beavers were moving on because their food source was depleted. She added that 7 of the 7 flow devices she has seen installed have failed because the beavers simply relocated, and she included ours as the eighth. She had clearly visited this website and referred to the picture at the top of the kit eating blackberries as evidence of the food depletion because there was “no nutritional value in blackberries”. She had visited the dam early that morning and determined that the lodge was abandoned and that they had moved downstream. She proposed the city look into one town that had decided to deal with its beavers by keep them in a pit and charging admission.

Ms. Tappel’s history of involvement with beavers is complex at best, but she is certainly no advocate for our beavers. Her resume shows a BS in Botany with graduate coursework in water sciences. She serves part time on the State Waterboard, and has been involved with riparian restoration and beaver management. However, her name intially caught my attention with this quote in the Sacramento Bee, long before I ever knew about beavers in Alhambra Creek.

“But birth control isn’t the answer,” Tappel said. “Where you live-trap the male beaver and sterilize it, it’s complicated and expensive,” she said. “It puts stress on the animal, being captured and removed from the environment and held in captivity while the surgery occurs. What’s more, she said, the population growth resumes in just a few years.”

Aside from the obvious thought that perhaps killing a male in a conibear trap puts stress on the animal too (and if you’ve ever seen the horrific youtube footage showing how this can often mean slow drowning for an animal you know what I’m talking about) but aside from this, the statement about the population growth returning is simply bad science. Is she suggesting that it won’t return if the animals are killed? Would any other expert say that it was possible to successfully kill every single beaver in the area? Would any other expert deny that as the habitat recovers, the population will likely boom?

You may recall that she is the expert who the Gazette quoted on November 24th saying that “beavers breed for 50 years” and that the kits should be relocated at 10 months. This is untrue and unsound and I worked hard to document this in our report, [1],[2],[3]. After these misstatements were challenged she refused to appear before the subcommittee directly and answer questions but returned to meet with staff in private. She advised them, among other things, that as a way to control population, the adult male should be removed so that the mother would be forced to breed with one of her kits eventually.

I had thought that her presentation that night did everything required to discredit her argument, until I saw the substantial reporting by the press that gave weight to her position that the beavers were leaving after having depleted their food supply. This is simply not true and is another example of the media obligingly reporting myths that benefit those who want the beavers gone. Yesterday I spoke with person after person who had heard that news and believed it, so I thought I would address it here at beaver central.

  • Yes the beavers will leave some day, of their own accord, which is what beavers do all the time, but there is no evidence that this is happening now.
  • No, we don’t want to keep ours in a pit and charge admission.
  • Yes, our female is very pregnant and was just photographed working on the lodge.
  • No, beavers are not like the story of the baby Jesus, wandering off looking for a new residence right before delivery.
  • Yes, that particular kit was photograped eating blackberries in the summer at the height of available food season. That beaver just liked them and would go out of his way every day (passing up willow) to eat them.
  • Yes, the beavers have built a secondary dam which is not a “do-over” dam but more like a terrace which gives them greater feeding range.
  • No, the beavers have not run out of food. They are currently eating primarily tulle roots which they pull up, wash and crunch like carrots. Diet variety is essential for beaver health and all the beavers in the Delta survive on tulle because there are few trees. We still have willow for them to take, their coppicing will encourage growth eventually, and other trees can be added as needed through volunteer support. In discussion with Skip Lisle he said that apples and blackberries are a natural food source for beaver, they sometimes enjoy the sweetness. Beavers eat ferns, fennel, acorns, water plants and a wide range of foods besides willow. Check out the area near the secondary dam and you can see how close we are to running out of tulle.

There is a unique value in having a beaver population so entirely accessible that at least 30 people can view their habits every day. When a new behavior is observed, such as the kits building an addition to the lodge as was noted last week, it can be documented and discussed. Ms. Tappel’s observations, however experienced, are simply incorrect, and not relevant to our beavers. They certainly should have no more weight than the reports of the many people who see and photograph them every day.


[1] Steve Boyle & Stephanie Owens (2007) North American Beaver: A technical Conservation Assessment http://www.fs.fed.us/r2/projects/scp/assessments/northamericanbeaver.pdf

[2] Baker, B. W., and E. P. Hill. 2003. Beaver (Castor canadensis). Pages 288-310 in G. A. Feldhamer, B. C. Thompson, and J. A. Chapman, editors. Wild Mammals of North America: Biology, Management, and Conservation. Second Edition. The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, Maryland, USA.

[3] Collins TC (1976). Population characteristics and habitat relationships of beavers, Castor canadensis, in northwest Wyoming. Unpublished Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Wyoming, Laramie

Beaver Deceivers Meet The Press

   Posted by heidi08 On May - 6 - 2017Comments Off on Beaver Deceivers Meet The Press

Remember that Mill Creek beaver project in Washington? I heard from Ben about this yesterday, clarifying that it was a single walled pipe that went over the dam, not under. (Also he’ll make changes to link to our site soon, thank you very much.) Looks like they’re getting a lot more press this week, which is great.

Mill Creek tries new tactic to prevent beaver dams from flooding nearby roads

MILL CREEK, Wash. – Beavers in Penny Creek are in for a surprise.

In an attempt to solve a perpetual flooding issue that causes traffic delays, the City of Mill Creek has commissioned Beavers Northwest to build a “beaver deceiver.” The system of pipes has no formal name but the idea is to let beavers co-exist with humans and end the flooding issue.

This is a great story, and will someone please pinch me because I’m obviously dreaming at the public works quote?  Great work by our friends at Beavers NorthWest. This is really good coverage and fun to see. The reporter was obviously having a delightful time getting to use new tools that day, he even filmed the install with a go pro and tweeted about it, but you have to go to the article to see that, because I can’t embed it here.

Meanwhile, we’re off to the Mother’s day event at Wild Birds Unlimited in Pleasant hill. Always a fun day, and it will be a great chance for you to meet Gary Bogue and Joan Morris who inherited his column! (And for some unknown reason Chuck Todd is listed as a guest…I don’t exactly understand, will birds be on Meet the Press this sunday?) Jon and I are there the first half of the day, and Cheryl and Lory will see it close. Come see the bald eagle, stock up on bird seed and stop by and say Hi!

Second Beaver Chapters

   Posted by heidi08 On April - 20 - 2017Comments Off on Second Beaver Chapters

I have to tell you earnestly, our website has the BEST readers. Bob Kobres from Georgia found that footage of the Buda Texas flow device, and yesterday Robin Ellison of Napa tracked down the story of what happened to the cow-herding beaver. I’m so glad I got to watch this. And this fine rancher should be a spokeswoman as she is clearly the nicest person in Saskatchewan and a wonderful story teller.

I love the idea of the beaver going under the fence and the cows just watching with awe as he waddles away. Thanks Robin for assuring us this had a happy ending!

Not sure we’re going to get the same for some beavers in Rancho Cordova on CBS last night. But the fact that they were on the news instead of just quietly dispatched means they have a prayer. The report says the city is being ‘advised’ and you can guess by whom.

Beaver Dams Creating Flood Risk For Rancho Cordova Neighborhood

Given the location, I’m willing to bet that the ‘advisor’ the city is talking to is Mary Tappel, who came all the way to Martinez just to share her misinformation with our staff. Ahh, memories. The idea bothered me enough that I spent the past hour writing the city council about our solutions and the inaccurate information we received. I’m going to trust that there’s a chance it will get read and considered, but in between Placer and Sacramento is a hard place to be a beaver.

This lovely photo is from Leopold Kanzler in Vienna. He got my attention yesterday on FB when he changed his image to this great photo, which enchanted me for obvious reasons. Then I remembered he was the brilliant mind behind these photos and knew we were among friends. I’m told that these were not photo-shopped just carefully constructed beaver- curiosity driven moments that he perfectly captured on film.

Beaver Uses Laptop Beaver Uses Laptop