Archive for the ‘Dispersal’ Category

Asked and Answered

Posted by heidi08 On July - 18 - 2017Comments Off on Asked and Answered

We’ve entered the phase of the festival planning where things are falling into place. The brochure proof from the printer was ready yesterday and it’s fully ADORABLE. Our grant from Kiwanis arrived in the mail and an unexpected treasure floated our way in the offer of help from this group.

Have Fun, Give Back, Run!

I was surprised I’d never heard of this group before but read they were formed this very year, which is as good a way as I know to demonstrate the beaver spirit still exists in Martinez. Their lovely website says:

The Martinez Beavers Run Club (MBRC) was established in 2017 as a way to bring people together through a shared interest in running. The club is a fun way to meet new friends, explore new areas and continue to strengthen the sense of community that is being cultivated by the people of Martinez.

Which makes enormous sense because if the Martinez beavers symbolize nothing else, they surely  represent a sense of community! With glowing eyes, I immediately suggested a million jobs for which they could be wonderfully appreciated, and maybe they had a flag or shirts with their logo and wanted to run in the parade? I know Jon would be VERY happy about any cheerful worker who wanted to help set up or take down the event! This is the kind of thing that makes the beaver festival seem imminently possible. Here they are gathered for their coffee run in May.

I hope the Martinez Beavers Run Club is around for many, many years and reminds people cheerfully of the plucky spirit of our beavers which did what no one thought they could (or should) for a decade. They brought out the community in Martinez, and truly they brought out one other thing. Which is the subject of our NEXT discussion.

Alan McDonnell: Do beavers have to be made into a political issue?

It is less than a month since we discovered a family of beavers on a river near Beauly. Watching footage of two kits playing in the water near their lodge, we did not foresee how abruptly their fate would be determined by politicians’ need to be seen to be doing something. We know beavers have been controversial on Tayside, but this corner of the Highlands isvery different.

There is no way of knowing where this population has come from. It is possible they were released, but we think it is more likely they have escaped from a private collection. From evidence along the river, we know beavers have been in the area for at least five years and do not appear to have caused anyone any problems. Trees for Life has supported the return of beavers to Scotland for 25 years. They can improve the health of rivers and lochs, reduce flooding, and create wetlands that benefit many species. So following the announcement from environment secretary Roseanna Cunningham’s last November, that reintroduced beavers can remain in Scotland, we have been looking into the scope for establishing a population in the Highlands.

When we found the beaver family near Beauly, we spoke with Scottish Natural Heritage and proposed engaging with local people to discuss whether these animals could be allowed to stay where they are or look at other options that could work well for both the animals and the community. But shortly after the news reached the Scottish Government, Ms Cunningham announced that the beavers are to be trapped and removed. She is determined to avoid a repeat of the experience on Tayside, where arable farmers have seen crops damaged by an unauthorised beaver release with no measures in place to manage the impacts the species can have on farming. This is understandable – but we disagree with the idea that this should drive a decision to remove a beaver family in a completely different area.

Actively managing how their natural behaviour can affect farming and fishing has been key to these successes and has allowed them to benefit from the positive ways beavers affect the river environment and added to an area’s appeal to visitors.

A knee-jerk response to remove this beaver family will do nothing to address the impacts of beavers in Tayside, but it may deprive the Beauly community and environment of something very special. We have an opportunity here to have a different kind of conversation about wildlife – one that doesn’t lead to conflict and stalemate.

We need to listen to the concerns of farmers and fishermen, but let’s consider the opportunities beavers bring and see if any solutions can work. What have we got to lose?

Alan McDonnell is conservation projects manager at environmental charity Trees for Life

Nicely done Alan! Great letter. And I’m interested in the response you get for that. I’m not convinced they came from a escaped private collection OR an illegal release, since waterways are highways and beavers go long distances even over land. But who knows? It actually makes me think Scotland might be the very place to answer the question no one else could ever manage. Namely: What habitat do beavers prefer?

The impression I got from watching our beavers all those years, and seeing the beavers that tried to break into the habitat, was that beavers PREFER being in a small creek where they can dam, and have a lodge and a pond of their own, but when none is available they’re content to live in a bigger waterway where no dams are possible. (Like  the carquinez strait.) But Dr. Duncan Haley said that he thinks beavers PREFER to be in a large river and only move upstream and do all that work to live in smaller ones when things are over crowded.

The relatively untapped puzzle can best be settled by following a population of beavers in an area where there have been NONE for 500 years so there’s no competition. You see why Scotland is the perfect place to answer this question? Bring on the researchers!

But as for your original question, “Do beaver issues always have to be political?” After a decade of careful research, Martinez can tell you firmly that the answer is

YES.

 

The whole enchilada

Posted by heidi08 On July - 14 - 2017Comments Off on The whole enchilada

Just as predicted the beaver battle in Beauly, Scotland is heating up. With folks attesting that the beavers have been in the area and all over the area for years – and officials saying the beaver have to be trapped and captured or the salmon will be eaten and the very life of the lochness monster is in danger. If it all sounds vaguely familiar to you that’s because we’ve been here before, way back in 2009 when the first “unofficial beavers” were reported on the river Tay. The government claimed that each unauthorized beaver would be captured and put in zoos. They brought in specialists and managed to capture one unlucky beaver (Eric – who later became Erica when it was learned that she was female).  Erica died in captivity shortly after she was caught, right around the time that officials were realizing that they were way more illegal beavers than there were zoos. I sense another learning curve coming soon, but stay tuned to find out how it all works.

willow wallIn the meantime. we are happy because the good people at bluehost and filezilla taught me to do a backup of the gargantuan website yesterday, our willow fascines we planted with the Riley and the watershed stewards at the annex are fairing splendidly, the bookmarks arrive today and the very talented Amelia Hunter finished this on Wednesday night. It is now at the printers waiting to become beaver brochures.  As always it will take a moment to load but is fully browse-worthy so enjoy!

Beavers swim, who knew?

Posted by heidi08 On July - 13 - 2017Comments Off on Beavers swim, who knew?

All of the UK is scratching their heads this morning and tsking at the news that a mother and kits has been suddenly ‘discovered’ in Beauly Scotland. This is miles away from the Tay or Knapdale, nearest the town of Inverness. At the moment they are exclaiming the beavers were “illegally released” because obviously there’s a beaver bandit of sorts who is running around the countryside stashing beavers were they aren’t wanted.

I mean the dumb animals couldn’t it be doing it themselves, right?

Row over illegal beaver family found near Beauly

Trees for Life said a mother and at least two kits have been observed on a river near Beauly. It has asked that the mammals be allowed to remain where they are or be relocated.

The government has instructed that the beavers be trapped and then kept in captivity. Trees for Life believes the animals have been in the area for at least five years. The presence of beavers has been found previously in the Highlands.

In 2008, one was found dead on a beach at Eathie on the Black Isle after suffering what police described as a “cruel” death after ingesting a large quantity of sea water.

Pohqdefaultlice suspected the animal was linked to illegal releases of beavers in other parts of Scotland.

It’s horrifying to imagine that they would try and trap a mother and kits so early in the summer when they’re obviously young. And more horrifying to think they could capture part of the family and leave a kit or two behind.  This story is literally an hour old as I type this and I can imagine there’s going to be a major ‘call to arms’ on both sides soon. The town of Beauly is over 100 miles away from the River Tay and it’s not like beavers could have travelled up the Tay to the Tummel to the  Garry up, walked over land a few miles and swam up Beauly Firth, because beavers NEVER do that right?

This seems like a good time to remind our readers that Dietland Mueler-Swarze observed in his book on behavior of the animals that beavers can disperse long distance over land and water. In fact he specifically reported on Castor Fiber:

CaptureThat pesky beaver bandit has so much to answer for.

Meanwhile,  here in sunny California the county recorders office contacted me yesterday because they wanted to make a children’s activity book to make sure their services are more visible and of COURSE wanted to pick the best possible mascot for their story. I’m sure you can guess already what animal they picked.

Remember, that the original beaver habitat was right next to then new county recorders building, and its previous head (Steve Weir) was a huge beaver protector. Workers would visit the beavers every morning before they came to the office, or tell us if there were new things in the creek, and they were the one to photograph that turtle laying eggs on the bank. Its second story windows was famously crowded with eager secretaries watching the shirtless Skip Lisle installing the flow device back in 2008.Long, long ago, when Gavin Newsome originally made gay marriage legal for a split second in California, Steve and his partner were famously married IN beaver park. I wrote about the huge historic event in one of my favorite posts back in 2008.

Let’s just say beavers and the county recorders office go WAY back.

So it seemed wholly appropriate for them to want to ‘launch’ their activity book at the beaver festival, and we found them just the right spot. I was given a preview of the book yesterday and because I’m very bad at keeping secrets I’m going to share my two favorite pages with you. Shhh

CCCIn addition to being darn adorable, I’m pretty sure  this is exhibit ‘A’ about the beavers’ civic importance when we have to go to court to protect the NEXT beavers that settle in Alhambra Creek. :-)