Archive for the ‘Beaver Behavior’ Category

Beavers: The cure for what ails you.

Posted by heidi08 On August - 13 - 2014Comments Off


At-Risk Columbia Spotted Frogs: Factors Influencing Conservation

Robert S. Arkle USGS

USGS researchers, including scientist Robert Arkle, examined existing data on spotted frog occurrence, abundance and habitat to understand factors influencing habitat quality, habitat connectivity and climate suitability in the Great Basin. Preliminary results suggest that the area of the Great Basin with suitable climates for spotted frogs has already decreased over the past 100 years and will continue to decrease substantially over the next 100 years. Genetic research suggests connectivity between adjacent occupied sites is currently low, while sub-populations are isolated from one another.

USGS research suggests that management tools, such as beaver reintroduction, grazing management and non-native trout control efforts may promote conservation of the Columbia spotted frog in the Great Basin.

So NOAA, USFS, and USGS think beaver reintroduction is a good idea to increase habitat for threatened aquatic species. While USDA and CDFG merrily continue to kill them, ignoring the trickle down effect that eliminating each beaver dam will have on a rapidly drying planet. How long does it take for such simple wisdom to pass through government bureaucracy?

Let’s just say I wouldn’t want to be a columbia spotted frog.

stickerWord this morning is that Utah is truly having another beaver festival, and they’re paying for me to come talk about our beavers in Martinez. It’s in Cedar City and I’ll tell you more details when I know them. The event is organized, of course, by the Mary Obrien and the Grand Canyon Trust where practically all good news about beavers originate. Considering Mary was the inspiring voice in the wilderness a million years ago when this all started, and now she wants me to come speak, I’m pretty honored.

Mary O'brien

A Dissertation of Death

Posted by heidi08 On August - 10 - 2014Comments Off

CaptureSo yesterday morning our Napa Beaver friend RE sent me the results of her public records request from Fish and Game. She was trying to figure out if any depredation permits had been taken in Napa County, but of course that’s not the way bureaucracy works. So they gave her a pile of all the depredation permits in the state of California from 1-2013 to 8-8-2014. They are actually organized unhelpfully by the last name of the person who obtained the permit.

Robin, Jon and I spent yesterday going through the records and making a spread sheet so that we could see what was issued where, by whom, for how many beavers, and because of what problem. It was a horrible, grisly, unpleasant day, so you have to forgive me if I am more sarcastic than usual. Remember that Depredation permits can be issued for 1-2 beavers or for an unlimited number, for a few weeks or for the whole year or more. But what we learned is that the VAST majority are issued for an unlimited number of beavers to be taken during the span of an entire year. I’m putting the finished list online here by county.

Counties in CA by Number of Depredation Permits Given 1-01-13 to 8-8-14

Alpine 4
Amador 1
Butte 8
Calaveras 1
Colusa 6
Contra Costa 18
El Dorado 9
Glenn 4
Lake 2
Lassen 5
Merced 13
Modoc 6
Napa 2
Nevada 7
Placer 50
Plumas 8
Sacramento 30
San Joaquin 8
Shasta 12
Sierra County 3
Solano 7
Sonoma 3
Stanislaus 3
Sutter 13
Tehama 5
Yolo 19
Yuba 7
Total 254

Before you turn your head away in horror, pause for a moment at the staggering number of permits issued in Placer county: FIFTY in all, each for a year and only 9 of which had any limit at all to the number of beavers that could be taken. This, for a county which is only 1500 square miles – fewer than 100 of which are water.How could this be?

I have a theory.

Remember that the county seat of Placer county is Auburn, where our long standing nemesis recently gave her umpteenth presentation on how bad beavers are – I’m referring of course to Mary Tappel who long ago took time out of her busy beaver-killing schedule to come all this way to try and get Martinez to kill ours. I know she recently presented at the Salmon meeting because someone from Fish and Wildlife who was there wrote me and said in disbelief, wow, there was this woman there who was soooo negative about beavers!  And when I looked at the schedule I knew who it was. I’m thinking Mary’s done many presentations in Placer county and her icy fingers have pushed the kill permits for thousands of beavers.

August 26, SARSAS 2013, Beaver Specialist Mary Tappel, “Beaver Management in the Age of Salmonid Restoration with Focus on Beavers in Auburn Ravine”

In case your a visual person, here’s the county count. There were no permits issued for Southern California in the records we received, but the woman who released the data did say that the department is in the process of transitioning to electronic files, so some lovingly hand-written death warrants may not be included. I’m sure Fresno killed some beavers. They always do, so maybe they aren’t using computers yet?

by county


Wow. Since the highest number of specified beavers issued in a permit was 50, that must mean UNLIMITED is >50. So if the total number of beavers listed to be killed is added up with that change the number for just Northern CA is at least 7958.




Beaver Course

Posted by heidi08 On August - 9 - 2014Comments Off

Beavers – The Best Dam Habitat Builders

 Price: $65.00                                          Instructor: Carol Medlicott – Ph.D.

Discover the amazing beaver! Beaver are second only to human in their ability to alter their environment. The habitats they create are vital to the livelihood of a huge number of species from Neo-tropical birds to insect to elk. We will spend the day learning and experiencing the habitat beaver create, their unique biology and methods of coexisting productively with this essential keystone species.

 Meeting Place: Glacier Park Field Camp Meeting Hall. (See campus map)

 Accommodations: Students and their families who wish to stay in the Field Camp cabins before or after the course can reserve a spot in advance by calling (406) 755-1211. Lodging is $32/person/night. See Field Camp description for information about the facility.

 Food: For the field, please bring sack lunches, snacks to eat, and plenty of water. For students staying overnight at camp, we have a kitchen in which you can cook meals and space available for food storage.

 Equipment: Please see basic gear list. Most important are comfortable hiking shoes, backpack, rain gear, hat, sunscreen and binoculars.

 Physical Requirements: We will be hiking less than two miles on relatively flat trails. However, some of the locations are open and can be very warm, so be prepared for heat.

 Recommended Reading:

- Beaver Tales: Audrey Tournay and the Aspen Valley Beavers
 Audrey Tournay, Boston Mills Press, 2003.
-The Beaver: Natural History of a Wetlands Engineer
Dietland Müller-Schwarze and Lixing Sun, Cornell University Press, 2003.
-Stokes Nature Guides: A Guide to Animal Tracking and Behavior
Donald and Lillian Stokes, Little, Brown and Company, 1986.

 Tentative Itinerary: Itinerary is subject to change due to weather, trail closures, beaver activity etc.

 We will meet at Field Camp at 9 AM for an introduction and classroom session on beaver biology, their interesting adaptations, and the natural history of the area. After eating lunch we will depart field camp for field exploration in Lower MacDonald Creek. We will respectfully examine active beavers’ lodges from a distance and keep our eyes peeled for a beaver at work. In the field, we will be offered a first hand view of how these magnificent creatures alter their environment and influence countless species around them. After our time in the field we will return to field camp and we will conclude the course by about 4pm.

 Evening is the perfect time to watch beaver in action and late summer is when they are most active, so if the group is interested, we can regroup after dinner for an optional stroll along Lower McDonald Creek for some tail slapping activity.

 Academic Credit: This course may be taken for 8 Office of Public Instruction (OPI) renewal units (for teacher’s license renewal). If you wish to take an Institute course for OPI credit, you will be asked to fill out paperwork and pay a $20 credit fee at the start of your course, payable to Flathead Valley Community College.

We are ALWAYS happy when Montana decides to celebrate beavers. Of course tracking down beaver sign seems an awesome way to learn. I checked for Dr. Medlicott but can only find a professor of geology in Kentucky. Could that be this instructor? But  considering that kids need to bring their own food, pay to sleep, and pay extra for college credit, isn’t 65.00 a little expensive? I mean you could just come to Martinez and stand on the ADA accessible bridge. For free.

Your choice.


‘Tis the season

Posted by heidi08 On August - 8 - 2014Comments Off

CaptureaKeefer Madness: Otter Attacks vs. Beaver Attacks

 BOSTON (CBS) — Rich Keefe is out to make sure we’re all safe when we step into nature.

 He’s warned us about not one, but two different beaver attacks over the summer, and he has another animal to add to the ferocious predator list.

 This time, it’s a North American river otter who is taking aim at the human race. An Otter in Washington state put a little boy and his grandmother in the hospital, and that same otter is believed to be responsible for attacking another man.

The cute little otter wasn’t very cute,” Radek Bazant told Q13Fox in Washington.

 The otter in question popped the man’s raft and then attacked him underwater as he swam away.

 The North American river otter can grow to be 21-31 lbs, much smaller than it’s beaver counterpart, notes Keefe.

Gosh, which would you be more afraid of? Both are so maliciously terrifying. I can’t believe I’ve been so lucky all these years, standing with a camera on the bank. While those monsters lurked just inches away.CaptureClick on the image to go to the site where you can listen to his fairly amusing riff on the subject. Even though he’s wrong about how long beavers live, I have to agree with Keefe on this. If you’re going to be afraid of any vegetarian I’d have to pick the beaver.

Peg legs notwithstanding.

Since we have all read the attack stories of summer for many years, they hardly surprise me anymore. I have to admit this was a bit of a shock, though. Check out the photo on the story from Austria.

10505276_10152606316863958_2013324934228945433_nMaybe not as cute as he looks? Photo: Cheryl Reynolds/Worth a Dam

Family attacked by beaver whilst paddling

 A swimming trip in Schwechat, Lower Austria took a nasty turn for a family when they were attacked by a vicious beaver.

Presumably because it was defending its territory or its young, the beaver attacked a woman and her two daughters, along with their pet dog, whilst they were paddling in the Schwechat river.

 Even when they ran out of the river and onto dry land it pursued them and bit their dog, taking a chunk of fur.

Since that beaver took a chunk of fur and not the dog’s femur (which he easily could have) I’m going to assume he wasn’t exactly in a rage. It was more of a “AND STAY OUT” beaver hrmph. Which certainly happens. I was shocked to see Cheryl’s lovely photo in Austria, but at least she got credit.

All in all, beavers look pretty dangerous. I’m not surprised. They certainly took a bite out of the unchecked powers in this town!

Beaver-saving symphony

Posted by heidi08 On August - 5 - 2014Comments Off

CaptureNashua, New Hampshire

Beaver deceivers are better than killing

Letter to the Editor

The benefits of beavers and their ponds to the environment far outweigh the drawbacks. Ponds provide vital habitat for great blue herons, osprey, kingfishers, mink and otters, among others, and support many plant species. Beaver ponds act like sponges during heavy rainfall, preventing flooding, filtering water running through their ponds and increasing groundwater levels. Communities suffering from the effects of drought often move beavers onto their lands to build dams.

 Pond-building by beavers sometimes floods the property of landowners. The usual method of solving this problem has been to destroy both beavers and their dams. This inhumane action is ineffective, however, because other beavers move into these areas and the problem begins again. A more humane and permanent solution is to install beaver flow pipes and fences. These devices, sometimes called beaver deceivers, maintain an acceptable water level in the pond for all concerned, both human and animal.

And before you ask, no, I didn’t write this. But I have a suspicion our engineering friend Art Wolinsky did. I can’t see the name of the author without paying 10 dollars for a subscription, and Art hasn’t written back. But I’m fairly certain! You might remember Art is the retired engineer and educator who worked with Mike Callahan to put in a flow device at his condominium in New Hampshire. He’s also the clever mind behind this:

Now don’t start thinking that all the good things happen in New Hampshire, just look at the remarkable work that was done Sunday at Taylor Creek in Tahoe. For those of you following along at home Taylor creek has had a fairly schizophrenic history with beavers as it is the site of one of the most respected beaver dissertations ever, and remarkably the place where native beavers are annually trapped to protect the non-native Kokanee salmon.

The Sierra Wildlife Coalition, Sherry and Ted Guzzi have been working for years to educate the rangers on the utility of flow devices, the value of beavers, and the many ways to solve problems. Their Herculean efforts involved Kate Lundquist of OAEC and Rick Lanman and a myriad of others who chiseled away at the mountain of resistance literally one frustrating nano-chip at a time. Honestly, it would have been faster to shift the pyramids of Giza with a pair of tweezers. Many folks are keeping an eye on these beavers. The amazing beaver images on the cutting boards in the silent auction were from Sheri Hartstein who’s been photographing those endangered beavers for years.

Well, two weeks ago the earth moved and USFS finally relented. The Sierra Wildlife Coalition was given the green light to install a flow device. The forest service called it a ‘research project’ and said they didn’t want to watch or oversee the work and asked that it be done late in the day. The cynic in me imagines they are looking at their watches and waiting for it to fail so they can employ the better-loved Plan B. (Which rhymes with ‘snapping’) But I’m not worried. Ted and Sherry will make sure this works.

Taylor Creek, adding weights to side channel leveler, 8-3-14If that hard-working face looks a little familiar, it should. Ted and Sherry were just at the beaver festival the day before. They woke up early to high-tail it home and install a flexible leveler on federal land. How awesome is that?

Now all that’s left is to wait and see how things unfold. Sherry sent a photo last night of the dropping water levels.

Ted and I checked on the leveler this afternoon, and the beavers did not disturb a thing, and the water level in the side channel is still down. But since it rained steadily all day today, we can’t tell if we might need to lower the pipe a bit – water is still going across the trail (it’s never that deep), but that could be just from the rain. We’ll keep checking, but since the beavers do not seem bothered by our work, lowering the water in 2 smaller steps (if needed) will be easier than one larger step…. so feeling pretty good. Here’s a photo of the beavers’ main dam on the main creek -  Sherry

Taylor Creek, Beaver Dam, 8-3-14Great work Sherry and Ted! If it needs adjustments you are just the pair to make them. And congratulations Taylor Creek Beavers on your lovely new life-saving furniture!

Beavers in the News

Posted by heidi08 On July - 31 - 2014Comments Off

Chip Ward’s article is marching through the liberal hemisphere – now on Salon and Axis of logic.  I’m very thrilled for the promotion but I sure hope it gets picked up by a conservative website soon. We don’t want liberals to be FOR beavers. Because then of course conservatives will be AGAINST them. Let’s emphasize their money-saving, small business owner expertise and get them on National Review Online or Red State soon!

On Axis of logic the editor offered these remarks:

Editor’s Commentary:

Timber is a Canadian beaver. That might not be his real name, but it’s what we call him nonetheless – and he responds to it. Timber was orphaned and successfully raised by a friend of mine, Michele.

 It was once thought by scientists that beavers orphaned at a young age could not survive because of the intense family structure of these critters, and the fact an orphan would be shunned by other beaver families. We learned through another friend, Audrey Tournay, that this is untrue. Audrey is renowned worldwide for defying the biologists and showing that beavers can indeed survive and thrive with human nurturing.

 Timber became one of the stars of two television programs.

 I am in the process of working with Michele to write Timber’s biography and it should be ready later this year (I’m the writer, she’s the story teller – the tentative title is Beavers Never Read the Operating Manual). It will be a book aimed at encouraging young people to learn about, and develop a concern for, the environment all around them. It is not yet too late to save ourselves from ourselves, but we’ll need to engage young people to do it.

 - prh, Editor

I’ll look forward to the Timber-files soon. I loved Audrey Tournay’s
beaver tales (Audrey was the founder of the Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary where Michelle Grant worked)  and I know you did too. In the mean time, two behind the scenes reveals are that the editor PRH is actually Paul Richard Harris who is the husband of Debbie Harris who we helped with beavers in Ontario way back in 2012, (because it’s a very small beaver world and all roads lead to Martinez).

And btw his original editor’s note credited David Suzuki for the documentary and didn’t mention Jari, which I replied to. So this old comment

Timber became one of the stars of two television programs. One, here in Canada, was a David Suzuki produced program called The Beaver Whisperers. The second was produced in the United States by PBS and is called Leave It To Beavers. Go find them: they are both fascinating.

Got magically edited into this one:

One, here in Canada, was a program aired on CBC called The Beaver Whisperers. The second aired in the United States on PBS and is called Leave It To Beavers. Go find them: they are both fascinating. Both documentaries are produced by Jari Osborne.

Which is a kind of reminder that one can make a difference in this topsy turvy beaver world, if you needed one. I myself made a snippet of difference last night on channel 7, but was disappointed my “amazing” interview in the blazing sun was shortened to 15 seconds. Still, its a great plug for the festival anyway, and they snagged tuesday’s footage, gave us credit, got our name right and linked to the right page of the website so I’m very happy.


MARTINEZ, Calif. (KGO) –

The famous beaver family in Martinez is still at it and now officials say they’re actually good for the drought.

 Experts say the beaver dams are helping water stay in the creek year round, despite the drought and that’s helping preserve fish and other wildlife.

 The group “Worth A Dam” is dedicated to maintaining the beavers in Alhambra Creek.

 The president and founder of the group, Heidi Perryman, Ph.D., says, “They’re kind of doing a restoration job for the town of Martinez. They working 24/7. And they’re doing it for free.”

 A “Beaver Festival” is planned for this Saturday. It’s taking place from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Marina Vista and Alhambra Avenue in Martinez.

‘A’ Beaver festival? A? Not THE beaver festival? I guess we should be proud of the fact that there are now SO many beaver festivals in the world we don’t merit the definite article anymore.   Hrmph!

Beavers make Strange Bedfellows

Posted by heidi08 On July - 27 - 20142 COMMENTS

Let’s start with a word from duck hunters. Now everyone I’ve shared this with has reacted with a “let the ducks live” remark, but you have to realize the pragmatic value of articles like this. Right now we need ALL the beaver supporters we can muster, so if people let them be because they want more fish to catch or ducks to shoot, we should realize that they’re still allies. Beavers make strange bedfellows.

Ducks in Small Places

Matt Gnatkowski

 One of the best friends of hunters who like to hunt ducks in small places is the beaver. Industrious beavers create a lot of ponds and sloughs that make for perfect out-of-the-way duck habitat. Mallards, wood ducks and black ducks like using the flooded timber created by beavers. To find these duck hotspots you need to scout constantly. Keep track of where you see beaver activity during grouse hunting trips, during the bow or rifle deer seasons or when snowmobiling, and make it a point to visit them during the waterfowl season. If ducks aren’t using the ponds when you arrive, wait until evening. Many times the birds will be off feeding elsewhere and return to roost on the pond toward evening. The sky can be full of birds as the sun slips behind the horizon.

 Wildlife biologists can steer you toward areas that have high beaver numbers. Talk to hunters, trappers and anglers who might be able to lead you to beaver ponds. If practical, you might want to even rent an airplane for a short jaunt around areas of beaver activity to pinpoint ponds. Beavers can create a lot of small-water duck havens in a short period of time. Where there was only a trickle of water today can be a pond of several acres tomorrow. And it won’t take long for the ducks to find it.

Let’s face it. Duck hunters have more powerful friends then we do. They have magazines and sponsors and legislation and fawning politicians. And would it be so horrible if more duck hunters made the intuitive leap to realize that fewer beavers mean fewer ducks? No, it would not. I realized when I read Three Against the Wilderness that wise hunters and trappers could be among our best allies -  once they got the message. And in order for that to happen we need to stop being mortified enough to talk to them.

Consider this website de-mortification training.

(It’s a strange thing to be realizing in the same day that duck hunters help beavers and the Nature Conservancy kills them. But there it is. Life is full of surprises.)

On to Whidby Island in Washington State where so many folks are fond of beavers they don’t know what to do with them.

A beaver lodge sits at the southern edge of Miller Lake, about 30 yards from a beaver dam. Lake levels are on the rise, and along with other impacts, are raising concern among South Whidbey residents.
— image credit: Justin Burnett / The Record

 Whidbey’s beaver population: residents chew on problem, seek county help

 “When there’s nature and people, you have to come up with solutions,” Kay said.

 In some cases, however, beavers have won friends. A population at Miller Lake is credited with vastly expanding the lake, but also creating water views. For Bob Olin, the edge of his backyard that borders the lake was once dominated by poplar and willow trees. They are all now long gone.

 “There were 10,000 of them right out there,” said Olin, motioning to his backyard.  “No, I’m quite happy with the beaver,” he added.

 Jamie Hartley, critical areas planner for Island County, said county code defers to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife for its guidelines. The state allows residents to shoot or relocate beavers as a last resort to other types of mitigations, including the installation of culverts or beaver deceivers.

Steve Erickson, with the Whidbey Environmental Action Network, said that shooting or trapping the occasional beaver is not going to really impact the population. However, farmers need to learn to deal with changing conditions and coexist with the beaver population.

 “The idea of a pretty farm where it’s all static and never going to change is a fantasy,” Erickson said. “People are going to need to change the way they are dealing with nature and work with it.”

 And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why Washington is the most beaver-intelligent state in the nation – maybe world. Apropos of nothing, the beaver friendly Whiby website “Tidallife” has our website in their blogroll and it’s how we get a significant number of visitors every month.

Now back to Devon, where musician Adrian Forester has this to say about the River Otter beavers.

CaptureI’m trying a new spam filter on comments this morning, and it appears to be working. Every day we get about 20 comments that I have to weed through from spam-bots telling me to buy sexual aids or that my site could get more hits if I did X.

Help me try it out by leaving a comment, will you?