Because the beaver isn't just an animal; it's an ecosystem!

The Martinez Beavers

Category: Beaver Behavior

I received an update yesterday from the hardy Judy Taylor-Atkinson of Port Moody Vancouver who is working to save the beavers at the development where she lives. She is doing a wonderful job focusing public attention on the beavers and getting the community interested in them.  In fact she’s doing SUCH a fine job that I’m pretty sure at this point our beavers are jealous.

Yesterday she wrote this:

We had our first mini crisis last week when the beavers knocked down a large unwrapped black cottonwood tree and it landed on a homeowners fence, just damaging it slightly.   I was immediately notified by people in our neighbourhood who love the beavers and I went to work posting messages on our community facebook page and notifying the city arborist, Steve,  (who actually likes the beavers) and requesting the trees in that area be wrapped.  Steve sent his two staff, Alex and Doug, who have been trained by Adrian Nelson on the proper way to wrap trees, the next day.  

My facebook post read –

“Jim just came back and Silverlining landscape have removed the top of the aspen tree and Jim advised them to leave the branches and cuttings close to the stream bank for the beavers.  We will meet with the city arborist today and wrap that stand of trees.  The beavers have been eating mostly willow, dogwood, poplar and shrubs.  Some trees will be wrapped and others will be left as food sources because there is a natural balance between beavers and trees. Beavers open up the tree canopy to let light in and smaller trees will grow.  Some species of trees, like willow, have evolved with beavers and they actually grow faster if a beaver chops them down.  The greenbelt is changing from a “stream” ecosystem to a “pond” ecosystem.” 

That post seemed to settle everyone down (Jim is my husband).  The next day, I posted a picture of Doug and Alex wrapping the trees with the post –

“Thank you to Doug and Alex for wrapping the cottonwoods this morning and to Steve (our city arborist) for his valuable knowledge about our trees along Pigeon Creek. Steve said they are busy right now removing downed trees throughout the city (due to a bad combination of drought followed by intense rain and now a cold snap).”

Thankfully, Steve, the city arborist seems to be quite supportive (and interested) in the beavers.  When the beavers first turned up a year ago Steve didn’t know anything about them and now you should hear him!   He knows what kind of trees they prefer (and why), which trees offer the most nutrition for beavers (cottonwoods, poplars) and he’s not concerned about the willows at all.   He just has to make sure the trees don’t fall on a building and now he has a plan to wrap  those trees.  He has also been along the stream and is quite sure that the trees the beavers could potentially knock down will not fall away from the stream. 

Isn’t that wonderful? She is committed to making beaver friends wherever she goes, and NOW those lucky beavers even have an arborist who  is learning to love them!  (Does Martinez even have an arborist? Or know the word?) I asked for her permission to share this because I think it is inspiring to others who are thinking of doing something similar. She and her husband are hard at work in the community encouraging, explaining and de-mystifying beaver behavior. I wish very much I could resist this little rhyme that has crept into my mind,  because she deserves so much better, but there’s no avoiding it now.

Thank heavens for Judy
On duty
In Port Moody

There’s excellent beaver management news this morning from Idaho where the watershed guardians just installed a pond leveler for veterans day. Given the hard time that many beavers face in the Gem state, these critters are lucky indeed! Great work Mike Settell and team Pocatello!

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“Thank you, Bruce, for serving on the Watershed Guardians board, providing inspiration, leadership and flatout hard work. We will honor your volunteerism by carrying on our work to help the Portneuf River Watershed, one beaver at a time!”

Yesterday was a strangely successful day that turned out well for beavers. After writing about the Mystic lake madness I wrote the acting director of the Custer Gallatan Forest Service and some city folks protesting the decision to sit on this problem for three months and then expose the beavers to slow death. I was written back fairly promptly by that acting director saying the army corps of engineers had told them there was a risk of a 500-year flood event for the town below if the dam washed out. He assured me they knew about flow devices and would talk about this for the future, but had to do this now. The beavers would be trapped, not left to starve, which was something.

I was grimly comforted by this news, and mollified that he wrote back at all which I did not expect. He also said that he was back at his regular job now in Vermont and another ranger was in charge – whom he cc’d on the message so we could be in touch. I still thought the beavers were done for, but I was glad that my letter had been responded to.

45 minutes later I received this:

Update on Mystic Lake project.  Engineers are currently working on a mitigation device to keep water to tolerable level after lowering and keeping the beavers in the system.  Long term solutions will be discussed at a later date.  Thanks.

Chad Benson
Deputy Forest                                                                                                                                                                                  Custer Gallatin National Forest


There must have been a lot of other public outcry besides mine. Maybe we’ll  never know. I will say I am capable of writing a fairly decent letter, but am downright talented at finding the right email address to target even when folks work hard to hide it. Still, I can count on one hand the number of times something like this happens. Maybe it has something to do with Amy’s recent presentation on the topic and my reminding the ranger of her skills and the fact that she was trained by the man who solved our beaver problem a decade ago? Maybe someone chained themselves to a bulldozer or threatened to stop dating the mayor’s niece. Who knows how these things work?

I’m just happy it did!

Dispersal: Elizabeth Saunders

To celebrate I started thinking about a festival design that would promote our new location and vaguely remembered a charming illustration by Elizabeth Saunders the artist who works with Cows and Fish. It was about beaver dispersal, but I thought it could easily be re-purposed to inspire Amelia on our brochure this year. Even as a starting place, I’m liking this a lot.


Today is full of blessings in every way! Louise Ramsay posted this on FB a very nice beaver program from radio 4. There are some irritating parts but stay patient because it gets very good. I especially find it kind of wonderful to hear how happily the reporter describes their return. Enjoy!


Looks like those pesky beavers have been up to no good again. This time in Sheridan Wyoming which is almost far north enough to be in Montana. Apparently they took care of the problem JUST in time.

Beaver dams, apparently built this past summer, caused some flooding over Slack Road, a county road in the northwest part of Sheridan County. County Engineer Ken Muller said three beavers have been removed, although a fourth may still be in the area, and county crews plan to take action this week to deal with the dams.

Muller said a state trapper was called and trapped three of the beavers. He said they’ve been relocated. The dams were built in nearby West Pass Creek, and Muller said the road is currently in pretty good condition. However, he said, the water is right up to the edge of the road on both sides, and crews need to deal with the situation before winter sets in.

Muller said this kind of situation doesn’t happen too often, but about four years ago, the county had an issue with a beaver dam flooding South Creek Road. In that situation, he said, the water actually crossed the road. Fortunately, he said, the road wasn’t damaged.

Relocated? Really? Do think Wyoming is ecologically sophisticated in ways for which we don’t give them credit? Or do you possibly think that trapper is just spinning a tale and blowing some smoke up our skirts by alleging that they were like that puppy our parents said went to ‘live on the farm”? I’m guessing that those beavers were relocated to Hamlet’s “Undiscovered country, from whose bourn no traveler returns“. But either way it’s a death sentence because it’s 34 degrees there this morning, with poor conditions to build a lodge or establish a food cache.

Still the lying irks me. So brazen. This song popped in my head as I read it, although different Sheridan, I imagine.

Ohh you cannot get to Sheridan, says the false knight on the road

Speaking of my husband’s homeland, God bless BBC programs like Autumnwatch which is broadcasting an admirable program filmed on the Devon beavers with a rare local farmer who isn’t a beaverphobe. I love seeing the wonder with which they watch as Autumnthe beaver does the most mundane beaver things. It is how i felt the very first year watching our beavers alone every morning. Turn your sound UP for this just to hear it in their voices.

Sometimes, for their own nefarious reasons, the powers that be decide to do a heinous, horrible thing just because it’s in their interest – even after they fucking promised not to. And because it’s horrible and they are breaking their worthless promise,  they send their most ghoulish henchmen out to perform the treachery on the sly. Now because the only goons they could possibly get to help them in this dastardly act are the knuckle-dragging imbecile types, the whole thing goes TERRIBLY wrong and winds up causing more attention in the end than if they had just did it on stage in a frickin’ tutu in the first place.

Which is where we are  in Beauly.

Trapping of ‘illegal’ beavers halted after two deaths

Two beavers have died after being captured by trappers working for the government wildlife agency Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) because they were living outside permitted areas.

The social animals, believed to be a male and female, are thought to have been living as a family on a river in the Beauly area of Inverness-shire. A baby beaver, known as a kit, was captured but survived.

The orphaned kit is now being cared for by animal welfare staff at the Scottish SPCA, and a campaign to trap more Beauly beavers, which SNH says were introduced to the area illegally, has been immediately suspended.

In a statement, SNH said the deaths occurred after screening by vets. The agency said: “Vets have established that the first animal was suffering from an eye deformity and a suspected infection. Work is under way to establish the cause of death of both animals.”

The young beaver will be re-released later at the site of Scotland’s official reintroduction project in the Knapdale Forest, Argyll.

Well yeah, we killed two beavers but one of them had a mangled eye already so it’s to be expected right? The other one probably had something wrong too, and that orphan kit is probably better off without his deformed parents. Amirite? We actually helped him!

Last night SNH said that the trapping and screening techniques it employed had “been used safely in many previous cases, and were undertaken by highly qualified professionals”.

Once upon a time they decided to trap all the free beavers on the river Tay and put them in zoos. They brought in these fancy box traps from Europe and they caught one beaver with their efforts. Poor little Eric, was sent to the Edinburgh zoo and renamed Erica when it was determined that he was a “she”. Is this ringing a bell for anyone? Guess what happened to poor Erica? She died. And the idiots who had ordered the policy started to realize it wasn’t going to work because there were 150 free beavers and not 150 zoos.

You would think that people would learn from their mistakes, or at least learn to dread the shame of more mistakes. Do you think they ever read the novel Oliver Twist? Making NEW ORPHANS is generally bad policy. The story is in the Sunday Times and the BBC and it’s only tuesday so everyone will know soon.

The Scottish government ordered the trapping and removal of the beavers from the river near Beauly because they had been released illegally.

Cabinet Secretary Roseanna Cunningham was clear in July that “swift action” was required in Beauly but little explanation has been given on why attempts by SNH to capture and relocate these beavers have now been curtailed

I know why. Because they got caught. That’s why. In a horrible nasty parent-killing way. If they were using those big cumbersome box traps the only possible way those beavers died was because no one could be bothered to check the traps and they starved or suffocated in there. I guess that orphaned kit was probably in the box beside their dead parent for hours. which is a horrible thought. But they’re just animals right? It’s not like that will be upsetting.

I HATE THESE PEOPLE. And their weaselly  lying murderous efforts to keep the farmers and anglers happy. I hope those dead beavers become the albatross around the neck of every slimy politician who wanted them gone in the first place.


There were two news stories yesterday that touched on the history of this blog. One of them was positive so we’ll do that last. The other is less positive but I’m at least happy that the reporter wrote me back this morning and apologized for not asking US first. Ahem.

What’s up with all the wayward beavers?

WALNUT CREEK — An injured beaver discovered recently in a Pittsburg parking lot near Kirker Creek may have lost its sight, according to the Lindsay Wildlife Experience.

When the Contra Costa County Animal Services Department brought the 35-pound male beaver to the Lindsay on Oct. 18, the animal was lethargic and staff believed he may have suffered head trauma and an injured jaw.

The medical team had been monitoring the beaver’s condition, administering pain medication and treating him with antibiotics for minor injuries.

Two days after the beaver arrived at the Walnut Creek hospital, however, Lindsay staff discovered that the animal could not see, which may be a temporary side effect of the head injury, said Elisabeth Nardi, associate director of marketing.

If the beaver is permanently blind, he would not be able to survive in the wild, she added.

Poor guy.

Typically, the Lindsay receives only one or two of the large rodents per year, but this is the fifth the nonprofit has cared for in 2017. Wildlife experts are not sure why so many beavers are venturing from their lodges into areas with people.

The medical team at Lindsay Wildlife Experience in Walnut Creek is treating an injured 35-pound male beaver who was found in a Pittsburg parking lot on Oct. 18, 2017.
The medical team at Lindsay Wildlife Experience in Walnut Creek is treating an injured 35-pound male beaver who was found in a Pittsburg parking lot on Oct. 18, 2017. (Courtesy of Lindsay Wildlife Experience)

One theory is that the beaver population has grown.

The heavy rains that soaked the Bay Area last winter produced lush vegetation for the toothy animals to eat, so more kits may be surviving.

A second hypothesis is that people are encroaching on the animals’ habitat.

“We have had the better part of 10 years of drought and the human population in the Bay Area has increased and spread out more during that time,” said Amber Engle, Lindsay Wildlife Rehabilitation Manager.

First of all, stop spouting theories about the population growing and ask the REAL BEAVER EXPERTS at Worth A Dam. Sheesh.

I actually heard about this poor little guy thursday morning from Cheryl, who was alerted by their vet. But this particular unconsulted beaver EXPERT doesn’t think it has anything to do with the population growing. (!) This wet winter and spring was terribly hard on beaver families. Flooding dislocated them all over, not just in the Bay Area. A beaver that is suddenly without family or home is disoriented and confused. He or she can easily wander into a public area, get hit by a car, and wind up in rehab.

This beaver’s dislocation is NOT storm related. And he sounds sick. The blindness makes me think of our very first sick kit. Remember that? He was picked up swimming in circles and they discovered at Lindsay he was blind.

After he died a necropsy showed that he had brain damage caused by round worm parasite that was responsible for his blindness.

And for goodness sake don’t euthanize a beaver just because he’s blind. Put him some farmer’s pond or backyard and let him find his way. Beavers have routines,their eyesight isn’t good anyway, and it he had a reliable food source he’d be fine  and figure things out on his own. Two thirds of beaver life is probably spent sightless anyway – underground or underwater.

Go here to donate and remind Lindsay that caring for sick beavers is Worth A Dam.


Better news comes from Southern California at the site of the big bruhaha nearly two decades ago. For newer readers Lake Skinner was a reservoir that made a decision to trap out beavers and caused resident outcry. When they were challenged on this decision they said that the beavers were  threatening the homes of endangered birds in the area, the least Bell’s vireo and Willow Flycatcher and had to be killed to protect them.

The outraged citizens hired an attorney who brought the whole thing to court, filing suit against the metrolitan water district, the power company and CDFG. When they lost they brought the matter to appeals court with expert testimony by the likes of Sherri Tippie and Donald Hey.

This time they won because the smart attorney (Mitch Wagoner) argued that that removing the beavers was a violation of CEQA and the court agreed that the decision was “discretionary” and not “ministerial” (meaning they did it because they wanted to not because they had to.) So they lost big time and had to all those pay court costs.

In addition but seperartely, researchers in the area were attracted to the story and published an article about the whole stupid decision wonderfully called “Management by Assertion” which remains one of my favorites.

Well yesterday this was posted including some of their findings.

Skinner Reservoir – Lake Skinner Temecula Ca

The reservoir and nearby Southwestern Riverside County Multi-Species Reserve host endangered species such as Least Bell’s vireo (Vireo bellii pusillis) and Southwestern Willow flycatcher (Empidonax traillii extimus), dependent on riparian willow habitat that is created and maintained by North American beaver (Castor canadensis).

Now originally I thought this was on the reservoir website which would have been awesome, but today I can see it was just a blog that I think might be computer generated. Never mind. It is still very good news though because the it means that the information from the good guys in this lawsuit and study is so widespread that it’s easier to pick up than all the lies they wanted people to believe and had a staff of thousands to spread.

Beaver truth will out. So there.