Archive for the ‘Beaver Behavior’ Category

Follow-ups and Flourishes

Posted by heidi08 On September - 16 - 2017ADD COMMENTS

I thought I’d share a little about the odds and ends that followed my last few postings. One was about the water week events in Whatcom WA. You might remember that the paper said there’d be a showing of the film “Beavers in the Ecosystem” which I wanted to find out about. Turns out the paper got it wrong, it wasn’t actually a film but an event lead by the North Sound Baykeeper for Clean Water Services, Lee First. I got in touch with Lee through our friend Ben Dittbrenner of Beavers NorthWest. Seems Lee contacted Ben looking for properties with beavers on them that might allow a tour for his guided event and talk.

Lee impressed me right away with this response to my letter:

Hi Heidi, it’s not a film, it’s a site tour.  I’ll take photos during the tour, and I’ll probably write a little story about the tour.  I love beavers!

As far as I know there are two people in all the world who collect a city salary and love beavers. And now I know both of them! There surely aren’t any such people in Martinez.

The other follow up comes from my column on the story accusing the Welsh beavers of ruining the sequel film date. I got an email from Alicia Leow-Dyke of the Welsh Beaver Project thanking me for the graphic.

movie starThank you Heidi, that means a lot. I was so annoyed when I read the original article, beavers being blamed without any evidence! Someone has to stick up for them!  I love the graphic!! That’s brilliant! Would it be OK for me to use that graphic in our talks or on our website? I also love the beaver cushion that has been sent to you from the Ukraine. I am going to have to buy one for myself!

best baby everI told her of course she could use it, and showed her the photo of our kit where it’s from. Graphic Designer Libby Corliss didn’t work with us long, but the silhouettes she made that summer from Cheryl’s photos have been a lasting treasure I rely on again and again.

Onto the treats of the day, this time Parks and Recreation Department of Calgary, which is about 400 miles north of Montana across the Canadian border. Seems they just updated their beaver webpage and WOW they did an amazing job. Even when I read it the third time this morning, I was still surprised and impressed.

BeaversCapture

Beavers have found an inviting home in Calgary, with its two rivers, abundant green space, and lack of predators. In recent years, their population has grown, with lodges in various locations along the Bow and Elbow rivers, in storm water ponds and wetlands.

Beavers are good for our environment

Beavers play an important ecological role in Calgary’s waterways. Their dams can create ponds that provide habitat for other wildlife and help surrounding vegetation to flourish. The ponds and wetlands are very good at storing water, and can help reduce the effects of smaller floods and hold water during droughts.

Water flowing through dammed areas is naturally purified, and after a dam has broken, fertilizer created from the decomposing material in the dam will spread downstream.

I promise I haven’t embellished this or edited to make it look better. This is the ACTUAL website for Calgary and it starts by describing how lucky we are to have them. Then it gets around to talking about problems, but in a pretty reasonable way.

Beavers also present some challenges

Because conditions are so good, Calgary’s beaver population has grown in recent years. This can cause problems for our forested areas, infrastructure and property, and the beavers themselves.

A single adult beaver can cut down about 200 trees in a year. With each lodge housing four to six beavers, wooded areas can be devastated in a short period of time. This is harmful to other wildlife that rely on the trees for habitat. Beaver dams can also cause flooding that affects property, and in some cases, can damage storm drains and weirs that can be very expensive to repair.

Okay, that’s most reasonable. People can legitimately have concerns about these animals. There’s only a single sentence I take issue with.

“Without natural predators, beaver populations can grow to be unsustainable.”

Ahh Calgary, you were doing so well up until them. Did you never read that beavers were territorial? Did you never think that when the streams were full of beavers the new ones would have to look elsewhere for a place to call their own? I would be disappointed in them,  but they quickly redeemed themselves.

The City’s approach to beaver management

The City’s practice is to try and strike a balance between health of the surrounding areas and the wellbeing of the beavers.

When required, The City uses different measures to protect trees and property to make our river parks unappealing to beavers. Depending on the situation, we may use a combination of the following:

  • Placing metal wiring around tree trunks.
  • Planting varieties of trees along the shore that are less palatable.
  • Placing under-dam drains to control water levels.

surprised-child-skippy-jon

We consider all other options before turning to trapping. However, in some cases it is required. When we do remove beavers, we use traps that are designed to kill instantly. The traps are placed under water for the protection of dogs, park users and other wildlife, and are checked daily.

There’s a final paragraph on why they can’t relocate beavers that are causing issues instead of trapping them, but honestly this is ALL I WISH from any city beaver management policy. Protect trees. Plant Willow. Install flow devices.

Consider it my version of “Eat. Pray. Love.”

If every city tried to do these things before trapping I would be over the moon with joy. Honestly, this is the best and most sensibly proactive policy I have ever read.

They even have a video teaching how to wrap trees. Be still my heart.

I expect a mass exodus of beaver supporters moving to Calgary right away. Honestly, my bags are nearly packed.


One more present for Heidi in the Odds and Ends category. This lovely website I came across in my travels is called beaverlikemammals.com, with the actual tagline “A friendly place to post sightings of beaver-like mammals” which she dubs BLM’s.

Really.

CaptureBLM
abbreviation
Beaver Like Mammal.

Everyone wants to make a contribution to society, to leave their own little mark on the world. This website is my mark. It provides a public space where people can post sightings of beaver-like mammals (BLMs). Did you spot a BLM at the corner of 10th Street and West Main? Does a BLM emerge from the bushes by your back porch every evening around 6pm? Did you catch a glimpse of a BLM out of your car window on the way home on Thursday night? Submit your sighting to beaverlikemammals.com!

There is a page for submitting a sighting and your observation will be listed by your state. Most of the entries she has look like woodchucks with the occasional squirrel. I don’t see any actual beavers since back in 2007. But she definitely gave me a gift.

From now on, the next photo of a nutria I see on a news article about beavers I’m calling it a BLM.

Friendly protection

Posted by heidi08 On September - 15 - 2017Comments Off on Friendly protection

camilaHere’s two very nice ways to get a jump start on the weekend. The first is news that our good friend Camilla Fox of Project Coyote is now working with the Center for Biological Diversity to sue Fish and Game. Here she is with a volunteer working at the beaver festival in 2012. We always like days that start out like this.

State wildlife agencies sued over commercial trapping program

Two national nonprofit advocacy groups sued the California Fish and Game Commission and the state Department of Fish and Wildlife this week, claiming the two agencies have improperly managed and illegally subsidized the state’s commercial trapping program.

The Center for Biological Diversity and Project Coyote claim thousands of coyotes, foxes, badgers and other fur-bearing animals are trapped in California every year so their pelts can be sold overseas.

The advocate groups claim in their lawsuit that the California Fish and Game Commission and state Department of Fish and Wildlife have illegally diverted up to $500,000 since 2013 to subsidize commercial fur trapping in the Golden State.

The California Fish and Game Commission and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife are two separate entities. Established in 1870, the California Fish and Game Commission is billed as the first and oldest wildlife conservation agency in the United States, predating even the U.S. Commission of Fish and Fisheries.

I didn’t even know that there was a State Fish and Game Commission. They are the folks at the county level that gave us our grant last year. In fact they’re hosting a bbq this weekend that Cheryl is attending to show off what we did with their money. I can’t tell from the article how they’re saying the agencies subsidized trapping but I’m very interested in this idea. Wait, there’s a clearer article in the LA Times yesterday. They say the taxpayers end up subsidizing because the fees for trapping licences are so low. They’re saying if they charged trappers what it actually cost the system, the fur trade would die in California. Hmmm that’s interesting.

Lawsuit aims to end commercial fur trapping in California

“We hope the filing of this lawsuit will be remembered as the moment California said goodbye to the handful of people who still kill mammals so that their pelts can be auctioned off in foreign markets and then made into slippers and fur-trimmed coats,” she said.

It may be unpopular, but I’m not going to invest a lot of energy in fur trapping. That is not the cause of the overwhelming number of beaver deaths. Depredation is the BIG killer in California. I would spend money suing the the state over that.

(I’m having a fantasy right now about what it would be like to have enough money to sue CDFG in a drought year after counting all the beaver depredation permits and calculating how much water they would have saved if they had been allowed to live!)

Of course my favorite lawsuit against CDFG involved beavers, was won at the appellate level and happened 18 years ago with our friend Mitch Wagoner in Riverside county. Ahh Memories!

Meet the Baby Beavers, Squirrels and Ducklings Saved During Harvey

The second treat to start the weekend is this from the Wildlife Center of Texas, who has its share of rescues after hurricane Harvey. The article is definite eye candy and you should check it out, but I thought this was particularly wonderful.

The good volunteers at WCT are working hard at the moment so go here to donate.

beaver-duo

Kits dislocated by Hurricane Harvey: Wildlife Center of Texas

‘Lovely Woodland Creatures’

Posted by heidi08 On September - 12 - 20172 COMMENTS

Yesterday Martinez had an Irma sympathy pang. In the evening it got muggy and humid, and then it started to rain! First a few drops at a time, and then a veritable short storm, complete with booming thunder. It was very unlike California in September but I mention it because at the exact moment it started to rain the mail was delivered and happened to contain a very special package all the way from the Ukraine. It was actually the first donation to next year’s  beaver festival from an Esty shop called Sho2Shop by Andrey Shokoto. He wanted to help but wrote back too late for this year. His design was such an irresistable pillow I had to buy one myself for a bday present.

He calls it “It’s raining beavers“.

pillowIsn’t that adorable? It’s well made too, with a neatly disguised zipper so you can wash it or tuck in the cushion of your choice. Obviously, with this arriving the exact same moment as the very unusual storm, with the beavers moving in a block from my house, and with articles like this guaranteed to amuse me, I am starting to believe in beaver fate. Or as Hamlet said “There’s a divinity that shapes our ends”. You tell me if someone upstairs wasn’t thinking of Heidi’s feelings when he wrote a headline like this.

Beavers are no longer under suspicion for delaying the filming of the Twin Town sequel

Beavers are no longer under suspicion for delaying the long-awaited Twin Town sequel, with the blame now falling on an unknown group of teenagers. The cameras were due to begin to start rolling last week for the filming of the first scenes of the follow-up to director Kevin Allen’s cult ’90s original.

But the location earmarked for filming ended up submerged under four feet of water. Director Kev Allen was originally told that a rare colony of Carmarthenshire beavers were to blame.

It was thought they dammed up a contributory stream, causing water to swell onto the film set. Mr Allen said last week: “It’s the oddest thing I’ve come across in 20 years of movie starfilm-making. Having spent months building one of the key sets for the movie, it has taken a bunch of beavers to screw up my filming schedule.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned about beavers in 10 years, it’s that they are notorious for ruining film schedules. And the Welsh beavers – well they’re just the worst. Cluttering the set with all their chewed mossy sticks and vowel-less consonants!

But beaver experts were quick to call foul on the accusation.

Alicia Leow-Dyke, Welsh beaver project officer for Radnorshire Wildlife Trust, said: “Whilst the film set might be flooded, beavers are not to blame, I have worked with beavers for almost a decade and I am very familiar with beaver ecology.

 

No beavers have been reported living near Kidwelly. We have also been to investigate ourselves and found no evidence of beavers in the area.

“Beavers have characteristic field signs and beaver dams are easy to spot. If they were present it is extremely likely we would have found these field signs.

“The only beavers living in Carmarthenshire are in an enclosed area, upstream of

Kidwelly and on a different catchment that is nowhere near Kidwelly. The dams created by these beavers did not cause  flooding to the Twin Towns film set.

“It is also well evidenced that beaver dams actually decrease the risk of downstream flooding.”

Oooh snap! Dam straight! You tell ’em Alicia!

Director Mr Allen now believes a group of teenagers caused the damage.

He told WalesOnline: “We have actually learned over the weekend that it was in fact a group of teenagers who had built the sabotaging damn and not in fact beavers after all.

“Whoever blamed these lovely woodland creatures in the first place must have been unaware that beaver has been pretty hard to come by in Kidwelly for quite some time. I personally blame the parents.”

Hahahaha…Me too! I blame the parents too! Ohhh I dearly love this article and the fact that the troubled director in his fancy car actually calls the beavers lovely woodland creatures. I love Alicia’s defense and love the refreshing idea of blaming the parents instead of the beavers. Honestly, if I were dreaming I couldn’t have asked for a better story.

Speaking of getting what you wished for, here are some of Cheryl’s wonderful photos from Sunday’s labor. I especially love the tippytoed beaver, but they’re all perfect. And see how those rascally parents are helping their children cheat?

IMG_9265 IMG_9239 IMG_9242 IMG_9204 IMG_9213

IMG_9161

IMG_9175 IMG_9188 IMG_9191 IMG_9195