Archive for the ‘Beaver Behavior’ Category

Across state lines…

Posted by heidi08 On August - 21 - 2015Comments Off

Slightly better article from Fargo, I’m still wary of these beaver saving efforts.

Activists to again voice opposition to killing beavers in Fargo parks

FARGO — Residents concerned with a plan to kill beavers along the Red River will gather at a Fargo Park Board meeting next week to show support for using non-lethal methods to curb the rodents, which park officials say have been chewing through valuable trees.

Kathleen Keene, a member of a local group of animal advocates, said killing beavers is not a sustainable solution because the dead beavers will be replaced by new ones coming in.

 The Park Board in April approved an agreement with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to cull beavers, citing thousands of dollars worth of damage to trees, particularly in Lemke and Trefoil parks.

 The USDA’s John Paulson said culling methods include a lethal body-gripping trap and another trap that grabs the beaver and pulls it underwater so it drowns.

Such methods are cruel, Keene said.

 ”Just think about if your dog was in a trap like that,” she said. “A beaver’s not much different than any other animal.”

Well, yes. They are cruel. But it’s worse than your dog, Kathleen. Because your dog would drown pretty quickly and it will take a beaver upwards of 15 minutes of suffering to die. Kathleen started the online petition that garnered 58,000 signatures. Remarkable enough that Fargo slowed its grinding wheels of beaver killing.

I’m still a little uneasy with this HS advocate.

Dave Pauli, a senior director for wildlife response at the Humane Society of the U.S., is expected to give a presentation to the Park Board at 11 a.m. on Wednesday at 701 Main Ave. on ways to control beaver populations. Keene said she and like-minded people plan to attend the meeting.

 In an interview, Pauli said non-lethal methods are more sustainable than lethal ones.

 ”The Red River is a challenge because no matter what happens to the beavers, there’s gonna be more beavers,” he said. “It’s a flashing vacancy sign if they just remove beavers constantly.”

 Non-lethal methods include protecting trees with fences and special paint, or by regulating noise and water factors. There is also beaver birth control.

To be honest, way back in 2007, we spent a great deal of time on the subcommittee worrying about the issue of birth control. The Humane Society recommended immuno-contraception and that charming harrigan that advised city staff recommended killing the father so that the mother would be forced to wait until her sons grew up to breed. The looming population explosion was much on my mind during those days.

But the truth we found was, population growth was NEVER an issue.

Since beavers leave to seek their own territory at 2 we’ve only had the one family. And in 8 years with 24 beavers born in our creek, our resident population has never exceeded 9. Not to mention that out of 24 live births, we’ve had 12 deaths over the years. That’s 50% mortality not counting mom. Someone tell that to Mr. Pauli before he starts handing out beaver condoms, okay?


Another escaped beaver, this time in Kentucky. Makes me wonder if he saw the story of little Choppa making a break for it. You know, a copy-cat beaver crime?

Henderson wildlife rehabilitators looking for missing beaver

HENDERSON, KY (WFIE) -Wildlife rehabilitators in Henderson are now offering a reward for information about a missing animal.

 Tyler the beaver from Misfit Island Wildlife Rescue Center disappeared.

The couple who runs the rescue say with help from donations, they’re now offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to her return.

 Another $250 will be given for her safe return.

Hmm, who do we know in Kentucky? Ian was on summer vacation, but I’m sure he wouldn’t take a beaver with him back to Cal Arts, right?


Beaver fever: Unique collection may set world record


Bill and Shirley Niese are pictured with a portion of Bill’s beaver-related item collection. More than 700 pieces of the collection will be counted at 11 a.m. Saturday in the Farm and Home Building at the Decatur County Fairgrounds during Greensburg’s annual Power of the Past antique farm machinery show. The Nieses believe the collection is the largest of its kind in the world.

Bill started collecting beavers after his Silver Beaver Award from the boy scouts. They just kept coming.  Now they’re couple is off to the Indianna county fairgrounds for an official counting to see it their collection of beaver items can qualify in the Guinness book of World Records.

To which I say good luck and, um, just 700?

With friends like these…

Posted by heidi08 On August - 20 - 2015Comments Off

 Humane Society to offer advice on Fargo beaver problem

FARGO (KFGO-AM) — The Fargo Park District will get some advice from the Humane Society of the United States on handling beavers chewing away at trees at city parks along the Red River.

 The park district caused an uproar last spring among animal lovers when it announced plans to hire the USDA to trap and kill the beavers, which have caused thousands of dollars in damage to trees.

 The society’s Dave Pauli says he has been working on similar problems for 30 years and may have some options when he comes to Fargo next week.

He says a solution is “always complicated”

Always complicated? The HUMANE society says that wrapping trees is always complicated? How complicated can it be? You cut the wire and wrap it loosely around the tree and close it up with a bread tie or something. Then you walk to the next tree and repeat the whole process.

Or go to home depot, buy a gallon of paint and a few lbs of mason sand. And throw a pizza party for all the boyscouts in Fargo if they spend half the morning painting trees. It’s not rocket science.

Honestly, maybe this is what progress in North Dakota looks like, but shouldn’t the representative from the HUMANE SOCIETY sound a little more hopeful? “You could try neutering your dog, but that’s pretty hard, and then he won’t have balls.

I think I need to know what Mr. Pauli gets paid, because even in North Dakota they might do better.

I suppose it’s always possible that he was misquoted by some doubting reporter. Maybe he said “It’s never complicated” and they didn’t believe him? Of course the AP picked this story in all the world of beaver news to pick up so I’m seeing it run everywhere including the SF Gate. I guess it’s national news that it’s complicated protecting trees with wire. I’m sure it wasn’t national news when it worked all those times.


Here’s a story to calm us down after all that excitement. It’s a sweet reflection on a half chewed beaver tree. Enjoy.

Radio Diaries: Beaver Tree




Nuts for Scottish Beavers

Posted by heidi08 On August - 17 - 2015Comments Off

Rhona Forrester

CaptureSo ITV is the Un-BBC in the UK with slightly more hip programming. “Nature nuts” stars a famous gay (they say ‘camp’) comedian traipsing about the country looking for and learning about wildlife. In the most recent episode he went to Scotland and visited Bob Smith of the Free Tay Beaver group.  Bob brought him by canoe out to the beavers he’s been following, and the host brought along a camera man from David Attenborough to catch the first signs of the kits.  Here they are discussing strategy. The host is on the stump throne, and Bob is seated with the canoe paddle.Of course I wanted to watch it right away, but the cruelty of nationality forbade me. It’s online there but it tells you you need to be in the UK to partake. Sigh. I knocked desperately on a few doors and begged as heartily as I could and was kindly sent a copy by a fairy godmother who warned me against sharing. I thanked my lucky stars and settled down for the treat. And what a treat! Beautiful photography, fun interactions and a beaver setting to envy. Of course the camerman captured the new kit and of COURSE I wept to see him swimming peacefully along in such pristine habitat. I assume this will be available outside the UK eventually and I will make sure to post it here, because you need to see it!


Rhona Forrester

Some of the folks from the free Tay beaver group turned out for the shoot, you can see Paul Ramsay in the middle there. Everyone was excited by the final episode, which you can see by looking at the Save the Free Beavers of the River Tay facebook page.

The habitat is so different from ours I was gripped with envy I can’t fully describe. A huge traditional lodge of sticks and a hanging forest to forage. No trash or homeless. And a beautiful pond to canoe across and see the beavers from their element.


Rhona Forrester

I’m so proud of what Scotland has accomplished this last decade. They overturned centuries of beaver ignorance and pushed their ecosystem value onto center stage. Both with the formal trial and the informal wild beavers. They generated interest and appreciation for a species that hadn’t been seen since the 1600′s. It has helped beavers not just in the UK but in every country by changing, informing and enriching the ecological conversation.

I’m especially honored to have met Paul and Louise and played a very small part in helping them coordinate support and generate media attention. I just read this morning that Paul is currently working on a book, which I, for one, cannot WAIT to read!  Their beaver work is truly and EPIC TAIL.


Mum & Kit on the Ericht: Bob Beaver-Boy Smith

“And sore must be the storm”

Posted by heidi08 On August - 15 - 2015Comments Off
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.
Robert Frost


Yesterday we learned that the beaver body brought wednesday was too decomposed to provide any information on disease or tissue samples. To say this was devastating news was a vast understatement, because we were hoping that the small bright light of Junior’s death would be that he would point the way towards how to save the others.

But that apparently won’t be happening.

For a long while I dissolved into a puddle of panicked tears. If we couldn’t find out why the beavers were dying and we couldn’t stop it, then there was every reason to think we’d lose them all. Meanwhile there were numerous phone calls and messages saying this is terrible, or give us a quote, or I think “X” is killing them, always with the message that I should do something – DO SOMETHING – to stop this. Jon was treated to a dramatic Heidi breakdown when he said innocently that whatever I thought was best we would do.


I have listened to all the professionals that will talk to me, and called in everyone that I can think of. I have cc’d the feedback from the pathologist to everyone I can think of that might help, with more than a few hail-mary passes. Honestly, yesterday I was thinking, if our beavers are going to keep dying here, then we need to tear down the dam, rip out the flood wall so they can’t rebuild, stop them with a flotilla of boats and make them leave.

Somewhere they at least have a chance of being safe.

I eventually  resigned myself to an advanced death patrol, thinking that if wednesday’s beaver was too decayed for information, we would have to get any other beaver that died to Davis more quickly. So I wrote the local supporters to get people to commit to looking up and down the creek every day.  As of now we’re covered thru wednesday. So if you can help, drop me an email. We need all the help we can get.

Last night Dr. Travis Langcore of UCLA responded to one of my SOS’s with an article documenting toxoplasmosis as a cause of death in a young (5 month) beaver. He noted that “If you’ve got a lot of feral cats around the site, there will be a high burden of T. gondii oocysts, which cause it”. Which of course we do, and always have. The article discusses the fact that the cells didn’t show up in a normal autopsy and they had to be specially treated to be identified. Hmm. I sent this onto the vet and pathologist. Hopefully it will help. Hopefully something will.

Emily Dickinson said Hope is the thing with feathers. But of course readers of this website know better.

Hope is the stream with beavers
They form a dam with sticks
To catch the flow and water store
Where wildlife will mix
These survived a death decree
Endured a sheetpile wall
And triumphed when their mom was lost
So faith – in them – is all.

 Yearling - Cheryl Reynolds

Yearling – Cheryl Reynolds

Let the record show…

Posted by heidi08 On August - 10 - 2015Comments Off

If you, like me, you were too busy at the beaver festival to watch Robert Rust create his historical, artistic all natural wattle and daub beaver, you might enjoy this video taken by Bob Kobres of Georgia documenting his creation. This is at the very back corner behind the festival, and there’s still a fair amount of traffic. Remember he started with a framed beaver filled with a crosshatch of willow stems, and fills it in just like a real beaver.

wattleSo after he was done weaving, he mixed the wattle with his bare feet and dabbed it onto the beaver over the course of an hour. Here’s the exciting conclusion. If you think Bob is more historian than artist, pay special attention to the 8 minute mark when he gets down to finishing touches.

I’m so grateful for his wildcard of creativity which always brings something magical to the festival, and for Bob Kobres capturing the thing on video. I spend a lot of time planning how the festival will work, but I could never even dream up this and sometimes the unplanned things are the very best!


Lately I’ve been thinking about the way that beaver life is written in the water, and the intimate relationship beavers have with it. A kind of mirror they live with every day that records their every intention. This probably isn’t the last poem I’ll write about it, but it will do for now.


This just in…beavers try not to be killed.

Posted by heidi08 On August - 7 - 2015Comments Off

Are you sitting down? Because this might come as a big SHOCK. But apparently all those years of ruthlessly hunting beavers affected their behavior. I know, get out! But apparently the scientists are saying what we’ve always known, and it greatly interests the BBC.

Beavers’ activity is still influenced by “ghosts” of long-gone predators, study suggests 

A new study suggests beavers are better adapted to diurnal – or daytime – activity, but switched to coming out at night and twilight to avoid hunter-gatherers.

Past persecution could have influenced beavers’ behaviour down through the generations.  The semi-aquatic rodents’ nocturnal activity pattern could be a persisting effect of the spectre of human hunters, who would have killed the mammals during the day thousands of years ago, according to scientists.

Scientists at the University of Antwerp in Belgium studied camera trap footage in the country’s Flanders region to find out if the the beavers had adapted their activity patterns to a predator-free environment.

But extensive footage revealed the cautious creatures continued to be mainly nocturnal and crepuscular (active at dusk and dawn).

The study, published in the journal Mammalian Biology, suggests this could be the legacy of a long period of persecution that began in the Pleistocene epoch (2.6 million – 11.7 thousand years ago), when hunter-gatherers would have used hand-held weapons and gone out in daytime, before the use of animal traps.

The new study points out beavers’ night-time activity pattern may not be optimal for the species. “First, their eyes are not particularly adapted to seeing in the dark,” Swinnen tells BBC Earth.

 “Second, when beavers would be active during the day which is warmer than the nights, they would lose less energy for thermoregulation, which is beneficial. Third, as a herbivore, their food is always present, so there is no reason to forage mostly during the night.”

Now if this doesn’t sound like news to you, you’re in the right place. I’ve been saying this ever since I read it hypothesized by Hope Ryden in Lily pond, which was written around 40 years ago. And she was informed by the writing of scientists of her time who were writing about earlier writing. The headline on this story should be Everything old is New again! And why on earth WOULDN’T our behavior affect them?

In a decade in Martinez we’ve changed how comfortable one particular family of beavers is around humans. Why wouldn’t 1000 years of aggression do the same for all of them?

It’s important to add that in large rich, safe habitats beavers STILL work in the daytime. Our own Lory watched several in Denali park in Alaska.  The area surely wasn’t without predators, wolf, grizzly and mountain lion to name a few. However their primary threat has always been of the bipedal variety, so they adapted their behavior accordingly. Even the fierce nocturnal wolverine, famously lured by beaver meat, was less threatening then humans. I guess because sometimes wolverines aren’t hungry.

But humans were always greedy.

Glorious photos from beaver friend Sylvie Meller this morning of the new generation in Devon. Enjoy.


Healthy beaver kits photographed on the River Otter this week by Sylvie Meller. Ref exb beaver2

Wild beavers growing up fast

The news that England’s only wild colony of beavers had given birth to kits was taken as proof that the creatures are ‘thriving’ by Devon Wildlife Trust (DWT) in June.

Now, pictures taken by photographer Sylvie Meller show the young beavers to be healthy and already feeding on riverbed vegetation.

Sylvie said: “They have grown already quite a bit, but are still tiny compared to their parents.

 “Seeing an adult beaver swimming, only its head would come out of the water. The younger the kits are, the more they are above the water.”


Healthy beaver kits photographed on the River Otter this week by Sylvie Meller. Ref exb beaver1

So wonderful and heart-breaking to see. I love the idea that despite all the bruhaha and legal machinations, the beaver family is just marching on. After all the media, and DEFRA, and being trapped and tested, the family is fine. Doing what beavers do. It’s fabulous that Sylvie is there to photograph them. Much better than night cams.

I can’t help think about four particular kits that we will never see grow up. I’m sure you can’t either.



Never send a city worker to do a beaver expert’s job…

Posted by heidi08 On August - 4 - 2015Comments Off


Northampton will install rocks to baffle beavers at Fitzgerald Lake

Hark back to 2013, when beavers dammed the area around the outlet pipe that sends water from the lake under the dam and into the Broad Brook. The lake rose about two feet that year, forcing the city to install a wire-mesh fence around the pipe, temporarily holding the beavers at bay.

 Ever industrious, the beavers eventually burrowed under the fence, clogging the system again and raising the level of the lake. Some of the trails along the shore were even submerged this year.

 Wow, Northampton MA is 20 minutes away from Mike Callahan. I can’t believe he installed a fence beavers burrowed under in 2 years, can you? Let’s use the search function on the website to see if it gives any clues. Here’s one from 2013:

“Once the new fence is in by the city’s contractor I’ll be installing a Flexible Pond Leveler through their fence.”

Ahhhh so it was a “I’ll-save-some-$$-by-doing-this-myself, how-hard-can-it-be” job.  Gosh and now you have to spend a grand lowering rocks into the lake to hold down the silly fence that you installed, because otherwise Mike’s excellent flow device will get plugged. Have you learned anything by this? Are you going to stick to the experts next time?

Mike said at the time that this lake was the site of the FIRST flex pipe he ever installed – in 1998. How’s that for a history lesson!

bob n janeOur dinner guests last night were Bob & Jane Kobres from Georgia. Here they are at the table with our awesome chef and FRO’s beautiful beaver watercolor in the background. He’s the retired librarian from UGA that always sends us beaver research and discretely points out egregious typos so that your reading experience will be slightly less marred. He and his wife made their first trip to California (first time ever) for the beaver festival. (No, really)

Every business they visited in Martinez they made a point of telling was stunned. And they just did a beaver presentation at the children’s program in their church. How awesome is that? At dinner we realized they are truly unique folks: Jane is the daughter of a white baptist deacon from Tennessee that voted for Obama twice.

(How small is that demographic?)

They had a great time watching Bob Rust put together the wattle beaver, and Bob filmed most of it so I hope we can get it on the website soon. They shared a similar knowledgeable quirkiness that I am starting to recognize in beaver lovers. (Myself included). It’s amazing that we have had three separate visits from Georgia in the past few years, and the Blue Heron Preserve in Atlanta is now talking about possibly doing a beaver festival. (Be still my heart!) They went to Muir Beach on their visit and boldly put their bare feet in the Pacific, as well strolling around Muir Woods and the John Muir house here in Martinez.

We’re just about finished with the final exchanges for the silent auction, meeting a lot of folk wednesday at the bridge, and everything is finally put away or tallied. I sent the followup receipts and paperwork for the grants yesterday, and am finally starting to feel done with everything. I got this fun photo from our bag piper yesterday, Dave Kwinter, who said he had a great time at the festival.

bvOf course I warned him to use caution when saying he enjoyed it, or else we will certainly ask him again!