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

The Martinez Beavers

Category: Beaver Chewing

The smith canal takes water from the San Joaquin river in to the interior of Stockton to feed Yosemite lake just south of the University of the Pacific.   It was originally created as a passage way for barge ships carrying or picking up agriculture to and from the region. It is now lined with homes and docks for pleasure boats. American legion park houses the old barge turn around point which is now called a ‘lake’ and lined with trees for recreation.

Gee, I wonder if anyone we know is enjoying those trees.

Fitzgerald: A modest proposal for smith canal

Beaver or beavers unknown are gnawing down trees around the lake in American Legion Park.

Mark Farnsworth, who with wife Liz spotted unmistakable beaver chew marks while walking their dog, said he believes the beavers are not building a dam but a lodge.

“These guys don’t have a stream to block,” opined Farnsworth. “They’ll build a den down lower.”

Beavers build DIY dams on streams to surround their mud-and-wood lodges with a pond as protection from predators. They also eat underbark. The North American Beaver used to be so prevalent around Stockton that city founder Charles Weber nicknamed Stockton “Castoria,” after the beaver’s Latin name, Castor Canadensis.

“We’re unaware of that issue happening,” stated Offi

cer Joseph Silva, spokesman for the Stockton Police Department, which includes the Animal Services Division.

Silva added, “Our Animal Control officers are only equipped to deal with domesticated animals.”

As fate would have it, there’s a long-running controversy over a flood control gate proposed for nearby Smith Canal, which feeds the lake. Perhaps, instead of spending millions, flood control officials should just step back let nature take its course.

Hmm. Isn’t that a very interesting column? Mr. Fitzgerald thank you! Although being in Stockton which depends so dearly on its levees, the odds of these or any beaver being allowed to do their work is zero percent. If once upon a time the area was so full of beavers it was nearly called “Castoria”, that is because it was so full of marshy water and reeds there was little space to build anything at all. The creation of levees divided up the town into actual land and actual water, and the area guards those levees with its very life – for a good reason. Their great worry is that a beaver or muskrat wikl burrow into a bank, weaken the levee and send the whole place underwater. They spend considerable time and money every year trapping out whatever threats they can find.

Which is why I like this article so much. If there’s one thing folks from Stockton hate more than beavers, its wasting their hard-earned money.  Telling them they could save some by letting these beavers live will likely lead to some interesting head-scratching.

Last night was an awesome beaver advocacy battery recharge. The raviolis were delicious, the company was lively, and the wine was free-flowing. To start the evening everyone took a little field-trip to Susana Park to see the site of the new festival next year. There was much delight to imagine where tents and trailers could go and how the park would look with a giant chalk beaver pond in the middle.

There are a precious few things that make you feel like the beaver decade is starting out on the right foot – er paw. But this was definitely one of them. 


One thing that terrifies me about educating children about anything is that it’s SO easy to educate them wrong. Children are learning machines, picking up nuances and inferences whether we want them to or not. When tattooed  trappers or angry farmers come to their classrooms they are likely to pick up whatever is cruel nonsense is handed to them.

Фельдман Экопарк

Take this program in the Ukraine, for example, doing its best to teach every one of the thousand 9-year-olds that visits it’s park each year how destructive beavers can be.

Young naturalists of Feldman Ecopark studied beavers’ behaviour in reserve

Last weekend, the members of the Children’s Ecology and Nature Study Academy of Feldman Ecopark carried out an expedition to the National Nature Park “Homilshanski Lisy” in Zmiiv region (Kharkiv oblast), where they studied the influence of beavers on the environmen

“By taking measurements of teeth marks – bites left by beavers, it became possible to determine that both solitary animals and the families live here. We came to a conclusion that the influence on the environment is not critical now, however, in case of the population growth this influence may become threatening,” the head of the circle of biologists of the Children’s Academy of Feldman Ecopark Anna Pozdniakova told.

Google translate aside, that’s a scary paragraph.  By measuring the teeth marks on the trees the children are taught to ID the beavers that live in the region so they can tell their individuals AND families? That doesn’t make sense. Aren’t members of families individuals? If a family had adults yearlings and kits, as all families do, wouldn’t show up on all the trees as different marks?

If you wrongly assume that the only trees eaten by family members are those with teeth marks from multiple beavers and trees with only bites from only a single beaver are from bachelors you are going to be wrong and inflate your numbers incredibly! Sometimes beavers have helpers and sometime they don’t. It depends on the width of the tree. It depends on how closely your brother is watching and much he wants to snack too. It depends. on if your parents are feeling hungry and want to take over your ridiculous efforts. It depends,

The expedition of 9 young naturalists aged 9-16 was aimed at the study of the location near the hill Kozacha Hora in the village of Koropove. The workers of the natural park have told and showed how they register flora and fauna, and provided young researchers with an opportunity to take measurements in practice and to carry out other researches allowing to define the beaver population size and how it influences the natural environment in the reserve.

I know, I got excited about the words ‘influences the natural environment’ too. but it’s another translation error, What they actually mean is “ruin”.

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!”

Whew, I was relieved to hear that Mike Callahan (whose WIFE is a trapper) had never heard about using a cross-bow either to shoot unwanted beavers either. So that means this is just a one-off until we hear otherwise. (A horrible one-off but better than  a common occurrence.)

Meanwhile, I received a note from author Ben Goldfarb yesterday that his writing retreat is going well and that he will have the first draft of his beaver book in November! How exciting! And I heard from Tom Rusert that their home didn’t burn down, their beloved bulldog Daisy is recovering from smoke inhalation, and things are moving forward.  There was an excellent article in the East Bay Times and Fire Rescue about our good friend Luigi feeding the first responders last week, which surprises me not at all. That man has been incredibly community-oriented since before he even had a community.

Calif. deli owner feeds first responders in Calif. wildfires Capture

MARTINEZ, Calif. —Luigi Daberdaku has been making sandwiches at his downtown deli for years, but never this many all at once.

Since Thursday, there’s been an assembly line set up in his shop, right near the shelves with the specialty sodas. “Cutting the meat, cheese, lettuce, onions, cucumbers, I need volunteers… plus I need more meat; we ran out of meat today after 275 sandwiches,” Daberdaku said Monday.

By that afternoon, as he prepared to make his fifth delivery trip, he and his assembled teams had made almost 1,500 sandwiches. It started Thursday, Oct. 12, when he and volunteers made 150 sandwiches by midday. He took them to Fairfield that first day for further distribution; since then, he has gone straight to the hard-hit areas, mostly in Napa, himself.

Dear, sweet Luigi, you deserve all the credit you get. I recall he had barely set up shop downtown at the November 2007 beaver meeting ten years ago, when he stood up with his very thick Albanian accent and said “When I first come to Martinez there was no one downtown. It was like a ghost town! And now that the beavers have come there are many, many people every day!” He has been our friend since the beginning, and his wonderful daughter Louisa planted trees, worked the festival and brought us sandwiches every year.  Helping first responders is just the kind of thing he’d do.

(Let’s hope that sweet steady rain we got last night helped them too.)

Yesterday the National Geographic Blog called Cool Green Science decided that beavers deserve a little credit also. Of course they couldn’t resist reminiscing on Idaho throwing them from planes – but this is a pretty nice summary. Watch the video all the way through.

Restoring Beavers by Plane and Automobile

“Beavers are really nature’s engineers and they do a really good job at what they do,” says James Brower, Idaho Department of Fish and Game volunteer services coordinator. “We love beaver and we love what beaver do.”

“We really want them to set up shop and transform that habitat and make it a little better for everything,” Brower says. “Beaver create habitat for not only fish but also for deer, elk, moose and bear. Pretty much everything needs water and places to drink. There’s no doubt in my mind this benefits everybody.”

I like what Mr. Brower has to say. I think I will try and make contact. But I’m never a fan of the beaver-flinging story – as I’m sure you all know by now.

RZAD7WN7JI3W7PY4JS7RUGZ2UAYesterday and last night were not as bad as they feared. There was even a FB update from Safari West at 8:30 pm saying they spent the day feeding the animals and shoring up defenses. I can’t imagine how they’re survived because on the Cal-fire map there is just a huge red cloud from Healsburg to Santa Rosa. But somehow they persisted. The parts of Napa that were expecting to be told to evacuate didn’t have to because the fire turned a little. Which means our Tulocay beavers  are okay. I read a story this morning about a 70 year old couple from Santa Rosa that survived by submerging for 6 hours in their neighbor’s pool while everything burned around them – hiding like beavers below the water until they needed to breathe. They made it through the night and are miraculously not among the 31 dead.

Speaking of beavers and resilience I wanted to share the wonderful letter I received Monday from Judy in Port Moody BC. .

Hello from Canada

I am writing from Port Moody, British Columbia, and I have been following your website for years.   I am a member, and former board member, of The Fur Bearer Defenders.   Last year two beavers moved into a creek just a few minutes from our home and I have been dedicated to making sure this family survives. 

Pigeon Creek is a small stream located in the middle of the Klahanie development on Murray Street, Port Moody.   The creek is part of a green easement that runs between two low rise condominiums.   The population of Klahanie is about 2000. 

The creek was originally landscaped by Polygon development but has slowly been overgrown by several invasive species including Japanese knotweed, Himalayan blackberry and some smaller plants such as bittersweet nightshade.  However there is still a preponderance of Dogwood, Willow, Aspen and a large stand of mature Cottonwood trees.  

In November, 2016, my husband, Jim, and I discovered the start of a small beaver dam.  We are familiar with the activities of beavers because Jim has volunteered to help Adrian Nelson, the wildlife conflict specialist with The Fur Bearers,  install beaver flow devices throughout the lower mainland and up along the Sunshine Coast to help mitigate the effects of flooding from beaver activities.  

You can imagine how hooked and fascinated I was at this point. A knowledgeable beaver advocate in the making! With a husband who helped Adrian install flow devices! And who had followed our website for years! Be still my heart.

We soon spotted what appeared to be two juvenile beavers working to dam a portion of the creek.   The work continued throughout the winter and the two beavers seemed to become more comfortable in their new environment and were seen by the residents on a more regular basis.  

By April we were only seeing one beaver and assumed, rightly as it turned out, that the female may have been pregnant.   During gestation the male built a separate bank den.

During this time I was approached by the new General Manager for the Environment with the city of Port Moody, who told me she wanted to relocate the beavers.   I knew that the province of British Columbia was not issuing relocation permits and that her intention was to trap and kill the beavers.   Adrian Nelson, Jim and I met with her and convinced her to  take a different approach and manage the beavers “in place”.   

Although we have an understanding with this General Manager, I am cautious and am taking every step to ensure that these beavers remain undisturbed.   It has been very stressful for me because she has given me misinformation about the beavers that has led me to believe she is not knowledgeable about them.

Oh, yes the old “We want to relocate these beavers” trick.  If we’ve heard it once we’ve heard it a thousand times. ‘You’re puppy went to live on the farm’. It’s a fairly common ploy (or maybe not a ploy). Maybe folks really think it’s possible until they start making the phone calls and then they just let the story cover their tracks.

We finally got the first glimpse of the two new kits, late in the summer,  when they were about 8 weeks old, now weaned and starting to eat leaves.  

What I find so remarkable about this entire storyline is how the residents of Klahanie have responded to this new family in their midst.   We have a community face book page here, for residents only, and people are constantly posting pictures, videos, drawings and even hosting contests to name the beavers.   The male is named “Brewster” and the two kits are called “Woody” and “Chip”.

Jim and I have been wrapping trees to protect them from beaver damage, tracking what they are eating and I am providing educational posts on the face book page.  I have invited a local biologist to give an evening Wildlife Talk  and we had a good turn out for that event. 

I would never have guessed, when we first spotted the beaver dam, that this pair of beavers would turn out to be such an attraction in our community.  Every day there are people who come to watch for the beavers and the easy viewing location and accessibility provides everyone with a window into the lives of these animals.   Beavers are not common in Port Moody and this is the first one in the city for almost a decade.  Our viewing area is similar to yours, a pedestrian walkway on the bridge over the creek.

My very favorite parts are in bold because I just LOVE the idea of beavers enlivening  and educating the community and attracting attention. Just like they did in Martinez.  Urban wildlife helps neighbors talk to each other. Especially beavers. It’s as simple as that.

I am including a link to a new you tube video that a resident of Port Moody just made about our beavers.

Turn your sound up for this, the train reminds me so much of Martinez!

Judy! We are so impressed by your letter and heartfelt interest in these beavers. We love the video. We think those beavers are enormously lucky to have you and your husband in their corner. Communities that watch beavers are the best kind of protection against over-eager general managers. I wrote her yesterday with lots of ideas and this website has a host of resources for folks wanting to keep beavers safe and energize the public.  I also suggested she might want to sign up for the webinar I’ll be giving this month about how Martinez saved our beavers, and I’ll say more about that later.

Thanks Judy for writing and telling us this fantastic story.

urban beavers