Archive for the ‘Beaver Behavior’ Category

Friends with Beavers

Posted by heidi08 On February - 21 - 2017ADD COMMENTS

Did you see Bob’s post yesterday? His debut as a beaver blogger and it was PERFECT! Great margins, great links and proper search words. I was impressed and suggested a full time gig but he shrugged his shoulders and said he was happy to help when needed but he had other mountains to climb.

So you get me.

16797613_1249741255104466_6528058353456923453_oI spent yesterday working laboriously recording the audio for my talk and then trying to sync it up with the video so it can be played in my absence. It was a ton of work because it’s like trying to sew a seam from both ends at once,  but it’s finally done and I’m fairly happy with the result. I’ll post it on Thursday which is the day it will air. Today I saw that a new logo announcing the conference is much better, and thought I’d would share.

16807784_10208399848810541_899214589623300986_nYesterday I saw on Facebook that Caitlin was worried about her Mountain House beavers in all the flooding – for obvious reasons. Apparently she went down with her father in the evening to make sure they were okay.  It filled me with strange affection to think that there were other people in the world afflicted with my odd concern for beavers. And when I heard the charming audio that accompanied the video my heart nearly burst. Turn the sound wayyy up.

Beavers love Caitlin AND her Dad.

Cheap and Cheerful Beaver Webinar

Posted by heidi08 On February - 16 - 2017Comments Off on Cheap and Cheerful Beaver Webinar

I know, I know. Folks are jealous they don’t get to attend the State of the Beaver conference and listen to 24 hours of brilliant discussion about beaver ecology in the middle of a ringing and buzzing, smoke-filled casino in February. You might even be saying to yourself, why does Heidi get to drive 8 hours through the snowy steep grade traffic and eat hotel food just because she will be rambling on about beavers yet again?  I understand.  I realize how fortunate I am to be going at all, and your much-expected envy is the weighty burden of the lucky, I know. But there’s something everyone can do instead. And it means only a click of a button.

webinarThis webinar is scheduled for Mar 22, 2017 12:00 pm US/Eastern.

CaptureStream and riparian area degradation is widespread across the Intermountain West, yet restoration resources are limited. Relatively simple and low-cost alternatives are needed to scale up to the scope of the problem. A renewed appreciation of the role of the once widespread beaver has revealed insights about how this ecosystem engineer affects stream hydrology, geomorphology, riparian vegetation and habitat for other species with its dam building activities. Drawing upon lessons learned about how nature heals degraded systems, conservationists are increasingly seeking ways to recreate beneficial effects associated with beaver dam-building activities where appropriate to achieve a variety of stream and riparian recovery goals. Beaver Dam Analogues (BDAs) are one low cost, ‘cheap and cheerful’ technique used in beaver-assisted restoration to mimic natural beaver dams, promote beaver to work in particular areas, and accelerate recovery of incised channels. This webinar will provide a brief overview of beaver ecology and hydrogeomorphic feedbacks, beaver-assisted restoration, BDA design and application, and NRCS planning considerations and resources.

A “Join” button will appear on THIS WEBSITE for the conference the 15 minutes before it begins. There is no need to register and attendance is free. You can check if your tablet or PC has everything it needs to participate by clicking here. Course credit is offered for Forest Managers and more. So check if it applies to you. This course is offered in conjunction with the USDA.

If I have my way, someday soon the entire State of the beaver conference will be available online so folks from everywhere can benefit from the instruction. If Tufts can manage it, I’m sure Oregon State can do it eventually. Until then, I will do what I can to keep everyone posted.

beaver strategy meeting



“Beaver Blitzkrieg”

Posted by heidi08 On February - 15 - 2017Comments Off on “Beaver Blitzkrieg”

A true politician knows his audience. He can look boldly into the face of the crowd and describe the exact same actions differently depending on their particular interests. Behold beaver nonviolence!

Nonviolent beaver management focus of forum

BAR HARBOR — Skip Lisle, president and chief scientist of Beaver Deceivers International, will present his nonviolent, creative approach to beaver management at College of the Atlantic’s Human Ecology Forum in the McCormick Lecture Hall on Tuesday, Feb. 21, at 4:10 p.m. The talk is free and open to the public.

Lisle will share humorous informative stories about ways he has found to prevent beaver damage while still allowing the animals to repopulate and rejuvenate different locations, he said. His mission, he said, is to find creative ways for humans to coexist with these industrious, important creatures.

“Beavers are widely considered a pest to eradicate,” Lisle said. “However, they are our most valuable keystone species.”

Frequent dam construction, the felling of trees and the flooding that results from their building habits often damage property and put beavers at odds with people. In many cases, the common solution to this problem is short-term and frequently ends in the death of the animal.

The goal of Lisle’s organization, Beaver Deceivers, is to change this pattern of conflict into one of coexistence. Rather than resorting to a kill mechanism to remove a costly nuisance, he finds ways to protect infrastructure while allowing beavers to improve the health and natural beauty of an area.

CaptureThree beaver talks in three days. Skip is doing a “beaver blitzkrieg” in Maine and forcing wisdom upon the entire state with a one-two-three punch. Maybe that should be something we all strive for. Just imagine if all the beaver experts we know in every state committed to three beaver talks in three days, (held say around the international day of the beaver), what a dramatic difference we would make to our wetlands.

(Come to think of it, California is very big, we might need two or three experts.)

“With beaver-human relations, it turns out that long-term thinking, creativity, a nonviolent approach and a commitment to craftsmanship can combine for a great investment,” he said.

Maybe we could even get PBS to air the beaver Nature documentary on one of those days. And children’s authors to do beaver readings at their local public library. Heck, if I’m going to dream – dream big. Maybe there could be a cash prize for the city with the most officials in attendance.

Obviously this map needs filling out, but wouldn’t that be a sight to behold?

Skip tells the truth about beavers

Posted by heidi08 On February - 13 - 2017Comments Off on Skip tells the truth about beavers

This is a fantastic article about Skip Lisle’s upcoming beaver ecology presentation in Maine. It says everything about beavers you ever wanted to read in print – pointing out their importance to wetlands and wildlife, and challenging folks to be smarter than a beaver and save money by doing it.  In addition to all this it permanently lays to rest the age-old question as to whether the  man that Martinez secretaries once clustered to the windows to watch install a pipe shirtless has, in fact, matured well.

The answer is, yes.

Beaver ecology talks set for Belfast, Liberty

Beaver expert, inventor and entrepreneur Skip Lisle of Beaver Deceivers International will speak in Belfast and Liberty on how to install deceivers and other devices designed to protect human infrastructure, wetlands and beavers.

The assumption is that we cannot outsmart beavers so we have to kill them,” Lisle said in a news release. “I’ve spent my life inventing and installing a number of devices that permanently outmaneuver beavers. I’ve helped communities across the country and in Poland save huge sums of money, and wetlands in the process.”

Lisle’s talk will demonstrate how towns can save thousands of dollars by permanently protecting roads and culverts from beavers. He will also cover the history of beavers in Maine, and the essential role they play in creating habitat and maintaining healthy aquatic systems.

“I don’t know how many people understand just how important beavers are ecologically,” he said. “Without beavers, we basically wouldn’t have wetlands. We can coexist with them; it just takes some creativity and commitment.

“Many people do not know that wetlands are one of the richest habitats, with a greater density of life than anywhere else on land,” Lisle said. “We have to approach the problems we have with beavers intelligently. It is our obligation as stewards. But, we also need to be smart with our money. The human and machine hours it takes to constantly repair roads, destroy dams and kill beavers is really a squandering of public funds. And it never solves the problem because beavers will always return to the site.”

Ahh, Skip, you do this so well. It seems like just the right things to say tumble effortlessly out of your lips at exactly the moment when people need to hear them. The reporter covering this story was obviously impressed because got the entire story down beautifully. Come to think of it, it’s kind of amazing that at both ends of the country there will be important beaver ecology discussions happening on February 22. Now if only we could just get some started in the middle.

This has to be my favorite part of the article:

Of the hundreds of conflict sites where he has worked, Lisle has yet to find one he could not solve. Consequently, he has never had to kill, or recommend killing, a single beaver. Skip serves as a selectman in his hometown of Grafton, Vt., where deceivers are a line item in the budget, and all roads are fully beaver-proof.

Did you read that? I didn’t know Skip was a selectman. When did that happen? I need to pay better attention. But in Grafton EVERY ROAD HAS CULVERT PROTECTION!!!  This is a beaver utopia that we can only fantasize about. In fact I’m fantasizing right now. If it could happen in Grafton, why not all over Vermont? Or New England? Or the country?

“Many people do not know that wetlands are one of the richest habitats, with a greater density of life than anywhere else on land,” Lisle said. “We have to approach the problems we have with beavers intelligently. It is our obligation as stewards. But, we also need to be smart with our money. The human and machine hours it takes to constantly repair roads, destroy dams and kill beavers is really a squandering of public funds. And it never solves the problem because beavers will always return to the site.”

Sometimes I just get that contented feeling of being a child asleep in the back seat after a long day at the beach  on the car ride home. The happy adults are in the front seat and totally have everything under control. There is nothing I need to do, and everything is going to be okay. Ahh
Since I don’t need to be mature right now, I’m going to surrender to the very inappropriate impulse to post this for obvious reasons:

Castor Coping with Calamity

Posted by heidi08 On February - 8 - 2017Comments Off on Castor Coping with Calamity

16684010_10208796362132655_2521053801966896360_nThis is the idyllic view where I spent a decade gazing into the lives of beavers. Their lovely family. Their five dams, (six if you count the one down stream this spring). The entire Alhambra channel was a beaver neighborhood for more than two presidential terms.

This is what it looked like yesterday.  I know folks don’t always click on the videos, but CLICK ON THIS ONE. This was shot by Martinez resident Bill Nichols with his phone just before high tide yesterday morning. Did you have a bad day yesterday? This proves definitively once again that beaver lives are way harder than yours.

So buck up.


beaver on lodge

Rusty Cohn

Rusty was also concerned about his Napatopia beavers in all the rain. He went down late morning and took these photos. This wise beaver is once again playing snoopy and sleeping on top of the submerged lodge. You wouldn’t know he was disconcerted, I might as well groombecause while he’s homeless he decides to have a snack and groom.

Beavers aren’t exactly multi-taskers, but everything they do is useful. Our little dramas seem kind of silly in comparison to their epic struggle. Whatever comes their way, beavers are firm believers in the oldish adage:

Don’t sweat the small stuff. And its all small stuff.”

scratchMind you, if my house was in the middle of a scene that looked like this, and I was flooded out of it in crazywaterthe middle of my night, waiting for hours after evacuation before I could get back home and gather my things, I probably wouldn’t  idly be grooming.

One of my favorite things about beavers is their steady unflappability. They cope with life as it happens. They do not wasleeporry, plan, or panic. Which is not to say they’re unemotional. Look at this one who finally drifted asleep on his ‘red-cross cot’ at the shelter. He just can’t stay awake a moment longer. He’s done all he could coping with this calamity and looking after his family. Shhh, he deserves the rest. But look at his paws. He’s clutching a security blanket – er- branch after all his trouble.

Here’s closer look from Robin a little later.


Security Branch – Robin Ellison

Riverlords! I like it!

Posted by heidi08 On February - 6 - 2017Comments Off on Riverlords! I like it!

The Germans are tired of the UK having all the good beaver stories. They want some of their own to talk about why beavers matter. Hence this report from DW, which was also published under the headline; “Beavers on the Rampage“. Go figure.

Beavers: Lords of the rivers

When it comes to erecting remarkable structures, few animals are as talented architects as beavers. Almost hunted to extinction in Europe, the creatures are now bouncing back. Few animals create such impressive structures or alter their environment so dramatically as the beaver. Few, except for humankind.

“Beavers are like the architects of our waterways,” says of Iris Barthel of German conservation group Nabu. “They build dams, burrow, gnaw and fell trees and shrubs. In this way, beavers have shaped our riverscapes for millions of years.”

But despite – and sometimes because of – a shared propensity for reshaping the landscape, humans and beavers don’t always make good neighbors.

“The beavers aren’t aware of property ownership. They see the riverbank as a place they can dig their burrow,” says Barthel. “They see tasty food in fields or orchards. So it can happen that a tractor breaks a beaver lodge or a beaver fells a favorite apple tree.”

She adds that beavers have been accused of burrowing into dams and dikes, disrupting manmade flood defences, but says there are well-practiced defenses against this kind of damage.

If beavers are pilloried by politicians, it’s primarily to distract from their own failures in flood prevention,” says Barthel.

Lords of the Rivers! I like it. Shorter than Lord of the Rings and less stompy than Lords of the Dance! I love that last line. It’s true, that the first thing cities do after their culverts fail is blame beavers.  And power companies  when their service fails. And internet companies when their cables go out. (And fisherman when whatever). Often without any reason. Take Mountain House for instance, built out of landfill and roadways eroding. They ripped out the real creek to make room for a planned one. They are sure beavers excavated large cavernous tunnels that sucked their precious pavement into sink holes. Or at least that’s what they alleged until they got challenged.

Biologist Jessica Dieckmann told DW that part of her role as newly-appointed commissioner on beavers for the German city of Hamm was to help deal with conflicts arising between homeowners and their beaver neighbors.

She explained that because injuring or killing beavers or damaging their dams and burrows is forbidden in German, “a solution has to be found tactfully.”

“A solution could be that landowners sell a 20-meter-wide (66-foot-wide) riparian strip and make it available for nature protection,” says Dieckmann.

Her other tasks as beaver commissioner include finding out whereabouts beavers are in Hamm and how many there are, to know how best to deal with the creatures in the future.

Beavers usually live in burrows in the river bank accessed by an underwater tunnel. The dam ensures the water is deep enough to hide the entrance to their “lodge” beneath the surface.

But while human construction often runs at complete odds with the needs of other living species, beaver dams bring benefits to a whole host of other species.

“They create small ponds, deadwood, marsh areas or open up areas of soil,” says Barthel. These provide habitats for dragonflies, amphibians and reptiles, for fish and birds. “Where humans have to spend a lot of money on preserving biodiversity, the beaver helps out for free.”

“At the same time, it contributes to the cleanliness of water, re-natures rivers and supports natural flood prevention.”


The editors at DW think this is a beaver. But it’s NOT. This is a nutria (Or coypu Myocastor coypus). It’s BAD for the environment and the UNbeaver

Hurray! We love Jessica and Iris. There are smart beaver thinkers in Germany, and some of them are coming to the State if the Beaver Conference at the end of the month.   The language and knowledge has taken root on foreign soil. Or maybe started there and is taken root on American soil. I don’t care who gets the credit. I just care that we all get the knowledge.

Oh, and that papers stop running THIS photo and pretending to believe it’s a beaver. You can even see the TAIL in the back. And look at those nostrils and white whiskers! What’s the matter with you?


Planting Swords into Plowshares – Willow Version

Posted by heidi08 On February - 4 - 2017Comments Off on Planting Swords into Plowshares – Willow Version

IMG_6174Only good news on Sunday’s right? Well, yesterday’s planting party surely applies. 14 people showed up from Martinez, Napa, and Oakland and Berkeley to put some magical willow cuttings in the banks of Alhambra Creek.  (I say magical because at the right time of year willow can be cut from trees and turned back into trees. Imagine that!)Planting 2017The willow was trimmed from our own prodigious trees downstream and hauled back to be bundled into fascines IMG_6296or trimmed into stakes. The fascines were lovingly layed in trenches and staked in place. Study lone stakes were tapped into rain soaked soil where they will sprout. They planted at both Henrietta and Escobar streets. Everyone felt the conditions were ideal for an IMG_6279excellent planting. Ann Riley from the SF waterboard is always an outstanding teacher and Friends of Alhambra Creek Volunteers turned out to hear what she would say. As you can see, Cheryl was on hand to snap some wonderful photos of the moment. And you might recognize beaver-inventer BIMG_6337ob Rust even without his beaver bicycle! But if you need reminding, check the video below. Here’s Riley showing how a fascine is laid in trenches.  Afterwards most of the folks came to try out the wrap sandwiches and they must have been adequate because they were gone! All in all it was an excellent way to spend Saturday morning. I happen to be very fond of this lovely close-up of Riley and Jean bundling. I like to imagine they are wrapping very delicious beaver Christmas presents. Good work team beaver!IMG_6273



This week’s mail delivered a bevvy of beaver bounty for the silent auction. Starting with an adorable sterling silver beaver necklace from “Stickman Jewelry” in Montreal, Canada. The charm itself is even cuter because it is so tiny.  I anticipate rabid bidding on this cherishable trinket so start saving your pennies now.

The other glories came from artist Deborah Hocking in Portland. I didn’t even realize she was the brilliant artist behind the children’s book “Build beaver build.”   I just really, really liked this print she was selling on etsy.

I wrote her about the beaver bicycle Bob Rust made for our festival and she was immediately hooked. She ended up donating 8 prints and a copy of her book!  She might even  design something for the festival! Sometimes the best part of asking isn’t the things you get, but remembering that there are like minds all over the globe.