Archive for the ‘Beaver Behavior’ Category

A treasure box of beaver stories

Posted by heidi08 On August - 26 - 2016ADD COMMENTS

There are quite a few beaver treats to enjoy today. I guess we should start out with the ‘day off’ I gave myself after Placer. I had been waiting to try this and just needed the space between deadlines. From now on I’m officially working on the beaver mania clock, but this was pure enjoyment. Alert readers might recognize the audio from earlier in the year’s Scientific American podcast. But the graphics are all mine.

I sent this to Nick myself and Michael Pollock did told me he did too, but the champagne and thank you bouquet hasn’t arrived yet. I’ll let you know when it does.

Here’s another remarkable treat that arrived yesterday, this one completely without Heidi’s fingerprints. The funny thing is that my father worked for PGE all his life from the lowest oiler in Oakland to the coporate office on the 35th flood in San Francisco as General Manager of Operations. This  is how he found a job for his shiftless immigrant son-in-law 30 years ago when the green card finally landed. Both men went on to retire from the company with generous pensions and mostly fond memories but maybe a little beaver intelligence survives in their absence?

Shasta County: PG&E Moves Gas Line to Prevent Beaver-Caused Leaks

ANDERSON — PG&E crews responded to a seemingly routine report of a gas odor on a rural residential road outside this Shasta County city. But what they found surprised them. PG&E crews recently relocated a gas line in Shasta County because of beavers chewing the line.  They located the leak and dug to expose the gas line for repairs, revealing a void around the plastic line and chew marks on the pipe.

The void was a beaver den, which had likely been abandoned as the beaver came across the gas line and perhaps thinking it was a tree root, chewed away. As soon as the rodent punctured the line releasing gas, the beaver apparently gave up and left the unfinished den.

We knew the first time it happened it was a beaver,” said David Ferguson, a gas maintenance and construction supervisor in Redding. “We made the repair and thought it was an isolated incident,” he added. “But after it happened a few more times, about once every one or two years, we realized we needed to find a solution.”

Cherokee Drive on the road in southern Shasta County. The gas line lay next to the banks of Anderson Creek Overflow, which in recent years has had an incursion of beavers as the industrious rodent reclaims developed areas. On Wednesday (Aug. 24), PG&E crews finished the relocation job and began serving the four residential customers with the new gas line at a safe distance away from the beaver habitat.

And no I’m NOT making this up. I guess the explosions in San Bruno a few gave them so much trouble they are bending over backwards to show they’re nice guys? Maybe the decision was purely fiscal since sending someone out year year after year to fix the chewed pipe cost money. Whatever the reason I’m dam proud of PGE this morning!

Now, if you regretted not being a fly on the wall for the Placer presentation you’re in luck. I think this should be cued up right to watch on your own. There are only a few places where I flubbed up, but I’m still quite sure its the BEST beaver presentation Placer County as ever had.

(And I’m looking at you, Mary Tappel.)

Outlasting the Outliers

Posted by heidi08 On August - 24 - 20163 COMMENTS

I was never very good at math, but for some reason I really got statistics. (Unlike Jon who is excellent at math and dismal in is stats class. Go figure.)  That way of thinking about numbers just made sense to me. I could put the formulas together and analyze what came out. That said, I would be the first to admit that I remembered only what I needed to know to graduate and retained a chalk outline of the information in my brain once the dissertation was signed.  But it generally helps me read research better and understand what was being done.

What remains of the chalk outline tells me that regression analysis is something you do when you have a bunch of numbers you’re trying to tease out the most significant factor that makes them different from each other. Why do some kids drop out of college and others succeed? Is it money? IQ? Parental support? Social skills on campus? etc. And of course identifying the primary cause is important because you want to use that in making future decisions down the line. So when a friend of a friend in the field of social stats for medication offered to work with the county portion of our depredation stats I was very excited.

This is what he wrote at the time:

I used the square miles to predict the expected # of permits for each county, bases on the square miles of water.  Then I looked at the actual number of permits, and calculated a ratio of the two.  The data and graph are attached.regression analysis

You have one county that is clearly an outlier – Placer. This country issued almost 7 times as many permits as expected. 

So yesterday I spoke to the Board of Supervisors of the outliers in question. The county chambers were  high tech – there were four large wall screens and the entire meeting was streamed to Tahoe where it aired live with participants. There were two computer/media guys on hand to make sure everything ran smoothly and two women taking notes up front. The Commissioners filed into their seats on the dais and the meeting started a little after nine. There was an award for a stalwart Rosie the riveter airline mechanic who had worked for years and years at the historic society, and then several multi million dollar contracts were approved for snow plow equipment and police squad cars. You really got the impression that this was a county with discretionary funds.

And then there was me and beavers.

A CDFW supervisor from Tahoe introduced me and then Jack Sanchez from SARSAS added a nice introduction as well.

Heidi  has become the nation’s foremost beaver specialist as a result of a beaver family moving into Martinez Creek in front of a Starbuck’s and producing kits.  She started Worth A Dam and has spread the beneficial aspects of beavers in waterways worldwide.

Because Placer County allowed housing development too close to its waterways, an adversarial relationship has developed with beavers.  I believe if the English, Russians and beaver trappers had not exterminated beavers in Ca in 18th and 19th centuries, we would have no need for our Rim Dams, Shasta, Folsom and Oroville.

I present with great pleasure Dr. Heidi Perryman to talk about beavers.

My talk went as it was supposed to, and everything worked the way it was supposed to. The four screens displayed my slides which were also streamed in Tahoe, and even without video and 8 the last minute surprise I think the message really got across. When it was over several commissioners asked questions and repeated the phrase “Seven times more”  with horror. I really had the impression that the talk registered with them and left a mark. Vice chair Jennifer Montgomery even said she remembered our friends at the Sierra Wildlife Coalition in Tahoe saying something similar years ago when the beavers were killed at Kings Beach.

When I left the meeting I was followed out by the CDFW man who thanked me for an excellent presentation and talked about how they had made a mistake in Tahoe years ago because they didn’t understand and now knew better, and a reporter for the Auburn newspaper who wanted to talk about 7 times more and ask about mosquitoes. Jack and his wife came to say what a good presentation it was and so did one of is board members. They had already scheduled a private meeting tomorrow with one of the commissioners to follow up!

Honestly, we floated home feeling that we had really done something useful. I thought about Robin from Napa getting the PRA in first place so we could analyze the data, and Jon and I slogging through all those grizzly permits, and me writing my grad school friend in a panic about the data, and her asking her friend from Infometrics who generously donated his time and my meeting Jack when I presented at the salmon conference in Santa Barbara, and us all collaborating to prove that beaver belonged in the sierras, and I really felt like all the piano strings had pulled in just the right way to make this happen.

Afterwards Commissioner Jim Holmes sent me this very nice note.

Dear Dr. Perryman,  Thank you so much for your very informative presentation on Urban Beavers. It gave me a wonderful overall picture of the importance of beavers in our ecosystem.

The recorded meeting should be available soon, and in the meantime I am definitely very aware of the step they took forward and the role we played in making that happen. Sometimes I think what I like best of all about this beaver chapter of my life is the self-guiding interdependence of it – weaving the help of friends into a creation of my own imagining without anyone telling me what I should do and letting that make a difference.

Feel sorry for the trapper in New Hampshire

Posted by heidi08 On August - 17 - 2016Comments Off on Feel sorry for the trapper in New Hampshire

With Pelt Prices Dropping, N.H.’s Beaver Population Grows

New Hampshire NPR would like you to consider the poor, unappreciated and undervalued trapper this morning. Because you know, those icky beavers can’t be regulated in any other way. Everyone says so, Even the NH Furbearer biologist Patrick Tate, whose salary is paid by selling trapping licenses. Go figure.

CaptureWell sure, this report contains a brief ineffective interview with a ‘save it all’ vegan at the end, and no discussion whatsoever of the valuable services beavers provide or the fish and wildlife that are harmed by their removal, but the real issue of whether this is a trap-happy report or not comes down to this essential question: A) Does it feature a sympathetic photo of the trapper? And B) is he presented in some humble, hardworking way like sitting on the stairs, writing a letter to his mother or standing on the street in his socks? Answer here:


If only there were a hole in his stocking! That would be really effective story telling. Because OBVIOUSLY no one else in the ENTIRE state can manage the voracious beaver population without help from trappers! I mean it’s not like our NH friend Art Wolinsky as been living peacefully with the flow device he and Mike installed and his beavers for half a decade right? Icing on the cake: Art just wrote me that they invited Mr. Tate to watch Mike install this flow device in person. No kidding.

Well the important thing is that the trapper is knowledgeable about what he’s doing. He clearly is very informed about beavers, right?

Kaska’s not sure how many beavers are in this pond. He should be able to tell once he catches one—by looking at its tail. Beavers are territorial: they fight by biting each others’ tails.

If tomorrow I find a beaver in one of my traps that has bite marks out of his tail, that will tell me I have two different family units in this area. Maybe I’ve got the stranger; maybe I’ve got the resident. But that tells me that I maybe have more.”

Yup. Because tail marks always mean that a stranger beaver is snooping around the area, right?

Mom's tail

Mom’s tail

And baby makes three…

Posted by heidi08 On July - 30 - 2016Comments Off on And baby makes three…

Meanwhile the folks in Olympic Village are worried where there beaver kits will grow up. And have apparently forgotten about yearlings entirely.

Baby beavers in Olympic Village may struggle to find a home in Vancouver

The struggle to find housing is a classic Vancouver dilemma and it seems even beavers in this city aren’t exempt. 

A growing family of beavers living in a park by Vancouver’s Olympic Village may soon find themselves struggling to find a new habitat because nearby urban areas suitable for rodents are at capacity.

Based on public videos and photos, Vancouver Park Board biologist Nick Page believes up to three baby beavers are now are living with their parents in Hinge Park.

“The challenge is as the beaver population expands, that habitat isn’t large enough to support even a pair of beavers,” said Page.

Hinge Park, a man-made wetland, is considerably smaller than the usual habitats beavers tend to occupy — which means far less food. The baby beavers will likely live with their parents for at least another year before a new litter comes when he expects the trio will be forced to move out of its current lodgings.

Hmmmm that’s a head-scratcher for sure. Where the heck will those three beavers go to find their home? Obviously they won’t be allowed to stay in Hinge park. How can they POSSIBLY escape with all that concrete? I have a guess. Do you?

CaptureApparently Canada has forgot A LOT of what they learned about beavers – including that yearlings stay with the family another year or two to take care of the new kits. And they forgot that beavers don’t need to live in small waterways and can be perfectly happy in larger bodies just like they are on the Carquinez strait which gets salt water from the ocean and fresh water from the valleys. There are a lot of bays and inlets in that Salish sea that will probably work and remember beavers can thrive in water as salty as 10 parts per 1000.  IF all three kits live that long, which isn’t a sure thing in this world they’ll find a home.

Yesterday we worked on the prize wheel that was generously donated by Jeanette, shown with her niece working at prior festivals here. She was planning on being there to borrow one of the large ones from her corporation, but when that didn’t work out she bought one for us instead. This will be at the membership booth and donations of 20 dollars or more will earn a spin and win one of these fine treats! Hopefully the lovely clicking noise it makes when it spins will lure traffic to the booth and compel hard working folks to invest in some amazing beaver opportunities!



Beaver Retreat

Posted by heidi08 On July - 24 - 2016Comments Off on Beaver Retreat

You may remember that Idaho has a fairly complicated relationship to beavers. In the fifties they thought they were valuable enough to fling them from airplanes and hope they’d land, crawl to water and start a nice pond. Or not.

Mostly they like to trap them. They fur trap a whopping number of beavers. It’s one of the states where recreational trapping is more common than depredation. But Idaho Fish and Game has been getting some pressure from Mike Settell and our friends at Watershed Guardians. Who keep pointing out the MANY valuable things beaver could be doing if they were allowed to live.

Either Fish and Game listened or they figure this will work in their favor in the long run.


Saving beavers – Earthfire Institute joins beaver relocation project

Rehabilitating wild animals is a natural extension of Earthfire’s activities. Our infrastructure, know-how and interest in the well being of wild animals led us to rehabilitate two orphaned moose babies in 2013. It became a successful community project, completed in close cooperation with Idaho Fish and Game. Now another rehabilitation/relocation project is underway, this time with beavers.

In April of 2016 Idaho Fish and Game asked Earthfire if we were interested in providing a temporary holding pen for trapped beavers. We would be part of a coordinated initiative offering relocation services as an alternative to the kill permits issued when landowners request beavers to be removed from their properties. By accepting this project Earthfire became an integral part of the Upper Snake River Beaver Coop and their mission: “.. to recognize that beavers are great eco-engineers and a great asset when dealing with climate change and declining stream flows.” Earthfire is cooperating with representatives from the Forest Service, BLM, The Nature Conservancy and Idaho Fish & Game. The four goals of the Coop are:

Better understand beaver populations in the watershed. Determine the status of their habitat. Selectively relocate beaver to select sites to improve downstream storage. They can help us store water in the upper watershed for slow release during the summer rather than all at once

Provide information and support landowners

The Coop is responsible for trapping, penning and relocating beavers in the Upper Snake River region. Earthfire’s primary role will be to keep the beavers fed, healthy and safe until relocation. They will be trapped one by one until they can be relocated as a family. Because of strong family ties, beavers do not do well alone and often succumb to stress diseases.

Earthfire’s staff has completed a beaver trapping class organized by Idaho Fish and Game so we can assist the Coop in all phases of the relocation.

To build the holding pen Earthfire established a $7,000 budget and excavated a 70’ x 40’ area with running water on the 40 Acre Earthfire property. The excavated area was then covered with felt underliner before installing the pond liner, another layer of protective liner and 8” of round rock. The fence around the pond was dug down 1 foot and cemented to the ground to prevent beavers from digging out. As an extra precaution hotwire was added to prevent the beavers from climbing or getting close to the fence. Two dens were installed because not all beavers get along. The dens can be closed in order to trap the beavers for relocation.

Um, yeah?

I was a little more excited about the prospect before I saw this video. Earthfire is primarily and retreat destination with injured animals that can never be released. They create ‘new’ connections between humans and the injured wildlife for reasons best understood only by them. Watch for yourself:

No word on how that whole habituation thing will be avoided with these wild beavers in transit. I guess it’s rather similar to the parachute escapade, either it will work or it won’t but in the meantime they get rid of some beavers. I did look up a bit about the beaver Coop of the upper snake river. (Okay, I admit, I first read that “coop” like chicken coop. But I’m pretty sure its co-op.)  The whole thing is kinda secretive –  I can find some partners of theirs but no one who actually takes credit for the project. This may explains why they’re keeping a low profile. Note they are selling both the fur and the castor – to use as a lure in traps.


Well we surely wish those beavers and their champions the best of luck.

Not bad for a Tuesday

Posted by heidi08 On July - 20 - 2016Comments Off on Not bad for a Tuesday

Last night, new members or the PRMCC were sworn in. I was worried to see our old supporters go until I noticed that they included Adrienne Ursino who was one of the beavers very first supporters and the aide to former congressman Miller. She explained to the other commissioners that I had come to Madison’s preschool and kindergarten to teach beavers to the children and she admired how I was always helping people learn about beavers.  I quickly reviewed the mural process and described how it was based on our own photos, fit organically with the creek and reflected the real mountainsides behind it. The commission chair even said he had seen one of the beavers down at the new dam! Then I made sure to add that we should all be so lucky as to swim under our own memorial and keep right on taking trees at Ward Street.

(Given how MUCH controversy the beaver caused initially it was truly special to see how happy this made them.)

Afterward the commissioner discussed how lovely the mural was, and how quickly and professionally the process had gone They were impressed with its swift completion and found thanked Worth A Dam and Mario for making it happen. I thanked them for their kind words and couldn’t help thinking, ‘swift?’ that was ‘swift???’ because it seemed to me that it took ages and required repeated onerous effort to honor the contract, get the insurance, meet the city requirements blah blah blah. But okay, I can believe it happened ‘swifter’ than other murals in town.

Afterwards we drove to Ward Street to tell the beavers the good news. And there met some youngsters from Lafayette who will be selling temporary wildlife tattoos at the festival this year. They were eager for beaver photos to help them with their designs.  The beavers liked them very much and were obviously pleased with our news because they decided to cooperate. As did 3 adorable raccoon kits in the blackberry bushes.

The Importance of being Ernst

Posted by heidi08 On July - 17 - 2016Comments Off on The Importance of being Ernst

Sometimes even the back of the class earns a gold star. The Ernst trail  in Meadville PA lies in the upper left hand corner of the state near Ohio. Neither state has been particularly progressive on beaver management issues in the past, so I was thrilled to see this. Remember the trapper who said he was only going to take the ‘soldier beavers’?

ON THE ERNST TRAIL: Importance of beaver pond outweighs potential flooding

In the spring of 2015 the water, in the wetland, just south of Bean’s, on the west side of the Ernst Trail, began to rise precipitously up toward the trail. The water was also rising on the east side of the trail. We were concerned that the water might flow over the trail and perhaps damage the trail surface.

A short investigation revealed that beavers had dammed up the two culverts that drain from the west side of the trail to the east side and that there were many small dams on the east side as well. The board of directors decided to act.

In the course of trying to figure out what to do I visited the trail one June day last year at lunch with Pennsylvania Game Commission Wildlife Conservation Officer Mark Allegro. He was busy with nuisance bear complaints and only had time at lunch to consider our beaver problem. Mark pointed out that there weren’t any good options; our best hope was to wait for trapping season and get a trapper to trap the beavers

Since it was a nice noon-time, many people were on the trail, several of them recognized Mark, who was in uniform, and commented on wildlife they had seen along the trail. One person pointed out a huge snapping turtle on a log in the beaver pond, about 30 feet from the trail. Another showed me a couple of snakes alongside the trail that I had walked right by. Others noted birds they had seen, signs of beaver activity and so on. Our beaver pond was generating quite a bit of interest for trail users.

To better understand what a beaver pond had to offer, I talked to Scott Wissinger, an ecology professor at Allegheny College. Here’s what he said: “Because beaver ponds create so many different types of sub habitats of different shallow depths, flow regimes, plant communities and invertebrate communities, they are considered hot beds of biological diversity. Even if people don’t really care about invertebrate and plant diversity, they might care because the invertebrates and plants (especially their seeds) are magnets for charismatic animals that people do care about — fish, waterfowl, songbirds, amphibians and reptiles.”

With all this life attracted to the beaver pond, our board of directors decided to let the beavers alone. We’ll take our chances on the flooding.

Yes, if you need advice on trapping, go to the Game Warden, but if you need advice on BEAVERS go to college. I’m so hopeful about this article and will be working hard to get in touch with the author so he can see how to prevent flooding AND keep beavers. I can’t tell you how impressed I am that the people on the trail got you thinking about the enormous impact a beaver pond has on wildlife. And so glad that you listened, and kept asking questions because that isn’t easy to do when a man in a uniform tells you to give up.

Shout out to Janet Thew who posted on FB about the beaver totem skins offered by Decalgal. Of course I wrote her WRITE AWAY and she said she’d be delighted to donate to the silent auction. How much do you love this?

Final gift from Moses Silva filmed at the noisy crane work station by the beaver home. I guess not everyone is intimidated by progress.