Archive for the ‘Dispersal’ Category

Starved for information

Posted by heidi08 On June - 14 - 2017Comments Off on Starved for information

Why is it that folks in the county library complain about having nothing to read? I guess for the same reason your teenager opens the fridge and says there’s nothing to eat. Certainly the state of New York has blinders on when it comes to solving beaver problems, other wise they would have called on Beavers: Wetlands and Wildlife years ago. The answer to their question is a whopping 130 miles away.

Spencer Trying to Fix Nuisance Beaver Problem in Nichols Pond

As the Spencer Village Board of Trustees continues to ponder the beaver problem that has been plaguing Nichols Pond, they sought input from expert Scott MacDonald, who has had to deal with the industrious critters in his capacity as executive director of the Waterman Conservation Education Center in Appalachin.

For years MacDonald has been trying to figure out the best way to curb damage by the beaver population at Brick Pond in Owego. He found an effective method, though it involved installing two bulkheads that control the water level at a cost of $80,000 taxpayers’ dollars. The Spencer Village Board is seeking a more cost-effective way to prevent damage in and around the village-owned pond.

 Trustee Timothy Goodrich, the board’s point person for all matters related to Nichols Park, said the family of beavers is damming up the inflows and outflows to the pond and rapidly destroying the park’s trees.

MacDonald agreed that it was also probably a beaver that chewed through the underwater electrical line that powers the fountain in the center of the pond. Goodrich said he’s not sure whether or not the fountain will be repaired in time to turn it on this summer.

I want to meet the man who sold them the 80,000 dollar solution, because he’s a genius and should work for the federal government. Clearly no kind of flow device or beaver deceiver was ever installed because they have a crew of volunteers pulling out debris on a daily basis.

The handful of volunteers who clean the debris out of the pond’s culverts are becoming fed up, according to Goodrich. “They want to move onto other stuff,” he said of the volunteers, “but they’re so busy with the beavers they can’t do anything else.”

“I don’t blame them,” he added,” because they’re out there every day.” He said that most if not all of the volunteers are older and that the physical labor of clearing out sticks and packed mud can be hard on them.

Therefore, Goodrich said, the board needs to come up with a solution sooner rather than later. The beavers cannot be trapped and relocated because they are considered a “nuisance” species in New York State, the logic being that it’s not fair for people to release beavers elsewhere and pass on the burden to other landowners.

Goodrich said that he is not opposed to having the beavers killed, a resolution that none of the other trustees were very enthusiastic about supporting.

Most of the trustees said they believe that if the beavers are killed another family of beavers will move in. Goodrich argued that trapping the beavers that live in the pond currently would at least give the village time to come up with an adequate solution before new ones decide to make the pond their home.

MacDonald said he considers having the family beavers killed the one “black mark” on his record as caretaker for the pond, even though it was necessary to secure the state funding necessary to save the pond after the flood.

“It was very bad,” he said. “The public got very upset about it.”

We learned so much from that incident. We still don’t have a clue how to solve beaver beaver problems.

Since that time, he has learned how to raise and lower water levels at certain parts of the pond. If he pays attention to what the beavers are up to, he can often dissuade them from building in problematic places because beavers won’t build dams where the water is not deep enough for them to float the big logs they need to start their shelter. Beavers, he told the board, do not like to drag heavy logs.

Even with the bulkheads, MacDonald said there is some manual labor involved. There’s one culvert he has to dig out himself every once in a while or it becomes a major project — over the last winter he let it go too long, he said, and a few weeks ago he had to go out in a wetsuit with a backhoe to clear the stopped-up water flow.

Some level of manual labor seems inevitable if the beavers are to stay, but Spencer Village Trustee Nicole O’Connell-Avery said that she disapproves of setting kill traps.

She said the traps would likely be set underwater and would catch the beavers by the leg, holding them until they drown. She said it sounds like an awful way to die, and questioned whether or not the traps could endanger swimmers, pets or boaters who fall overboard.

O’Connell-Avery was enthusiastic about the idea of installing heavy-duty fencing in strategic areas that would prevent the beavers from building at the pond’s intakes and outtakes. Mayor Christine Lester said she thought this was worth a try.

O’Connell-Avery also offered up the unique but untested idea of population control: catching, neutering and releasing the pond’s male beavers. O’Connell-Avery works at Cornell University, and she said she would ask around to see if her colleagues would be interested in using the pond as a case study.

Beavers live in families of eight to 10, and usually only one family will live in a body of water as small as Nichols Pond. When the family has about eight offspring, the parents kick out the two oldest, who then seek new habitats at neighboring ponds, according to MacDonald. O”Connell-Avery said that this structured family setup might make for an ideal situation in which researchers could trap the males and keep track of the results.

facepalmWhen the family has about EIGHT OFF SPRING THEY KICK OUT THE TWO OLDEST? Really? And you work at Cornell? Are you the frickin’ janitor?

Good lord this riles me. I’m too old for this sort of nonsense. Considering that Cornell already HIRED Mike Callahan  to install a flow device, every one of these folks should know better. That was just over an entire year ago, I guess I can understand why you wouldn’t be up on such ancient history.

I guarantee you Mike didn’t charge the university 80,000 dollars for his installation, by the way. Heck even when we brought Skip Lisle 3000 miles out from VERMONT to solve our problem it didn’t cost us 80,000.

ACK! Someone get me a paper bag to breathe into. The Cornell website tells me that Nicole is a supervising vet Tech at the wildlife animal hospital at the university. She could really make this happen. We can only hope that before she picks up the scapel to neuter these beavers she cracks open a book and reads that beavers enter estrus once a year and young disperse at two years regardless of the family size. Surely she will listen to a reasonable argument?

Given Spencer’s track record so far, I’m not counting on it.

I need to calm myself by sharing the beautiful new sign that arrived yesterday for my beaver booth. Isn’t this lovely? It will hang out from my booth like one of those Ye Olde Shoppe signs!




Be Careful Out There

Posted by heidi08 On May - 17 - 2017Comments Off on Be Careful Out There

Beavers are notoriously vulnerable on roadways. They are low to the ground and usually crossing in the dark which makes them a prime target for roadkill. image002Do they ever use wildlife crossings? Inquiring minds wanted to know. Some fine investigative beaver reporting comes from Robin Ellison of Napa. She was interested in whether beavers ever use the crossings trans Canada offers. You know the ones I mean.

Turns out they have an extensive system to document the wildlife crossings with trail cam footage, and trackpads keep records to monitor use. They were only too happy to share the info with Robin and wrote back:

Thank you for your inquiry and interest in the wildlife crossing structures as they relate to beaver species movements.  I’ve had our database specialist look through the history of wildlife crossing documentation and have found some results for you.  We’ve not been able to find documentation on whether or not road mortality numbers for beavers were affected.  However, we did find information on beavers using the Trans-Canada highway wildlife crossing structures.  There are only 5 incidences that have been documented on all of Banff National Park’s highway wildlife crossing structures (we currently monitor 44 of these structures).  As you mentioned, all the beavers that have been documented on wildlife crossing structures were associated with waterway travel–in these cases the beavers were on a flat pathway in an underpass that has a creek running through it.

Below I’ve listed the information we have on beavers using the Trans-Canada highway wildlife crossing structures.  I’ve also found a photo of a beaver using a wildlife crossing structure (you can see the creek in the background).   

Screen shot 2017-05-17 at 6.07.19 AMNot a ton of observations, beavers are probably less likely than others to venture out of the water. But there are more observations than I might have expected. You can see three identifications came from trackpads which I had to look up. Here’s a nice description from some research they did trying to find which tool worked better. They found that trackpads had their place but cameras were better if there was a lot of wildlife traffic.

Field Data Collection
All 24 CS in the study area were continuously monitored forlarge mammal use since 1996 using track-pads (Clevengerand Waltho 2000, 2005). At least one track-pad (range 2–7pads/CS) was constructed at each end of every underpass,and each track-pad spanned the width of the underpass and was approximately 2 m long in the axis of animalmovement. Track-pads on the overpasses consisted of onetrack-pad located at the center, spanning the width, and were approximately 4 m long in the axis of animalmovement. Tracking material consisted of a dry, loamy mixture of sand, silt, and clay, 1–4 cm deep. We visited eachCS every other day, and at each visit we classified thetracking medium as Good, Fair, Poor, or Too many,depending on our ability to detect tracks. A track-padcondition of Good occurred when our ability to detect tracks

Here’s what one of the cameras documented. That lucky beaver made it safely across and back into the water. (The darker area is the creek). Beaver_external distribution ok

I haven’t been doing this beaver work for very long, but I’ve already come across several beavers and otters struck by vehicles. We could learn a lot from our Canadian friends. Thanks to the helper who shared this information

J. Kimo Rogala, M.Sc.
a Resource Management Officer II
Ecological Integrity Monitoring, Banff National Park
Parks Canada Agency | Government of Canada
Box 900, 216 Hawk Ave, Banff, AB, T1L 1K2

for keeping track of this information. And thanks Robin for doing the legwork! This is a wonderful insight into something we understand very little about. I’m just glad these beavers never had to go through this:

(For the record I spoke years ago with the fellow who filmed this beaver. Not the news site  that made his footage into a comedy. And the witness swears he made it across safely. Although one foot did appear injured in the photos I saw.)

Beaver Fireside Chats

Posted by heidi08 On May - 2 - 2017Comments Off on Beaver Fireside Chats

Three beaver stories you don’t see every day…from places you truly expect to know better. The first is from Maine where a man believes he saw castoroides in person. Yes, really. He doesn’t want to give the location to make sure no people want go hunting for him.

Maine Man Claims to Have Witnessed Giant Beaver

A man from Maine claims to have seen a gigantic beaver. His estimations of size were about 14 feet long and weighing over 350 pounds. The man didn’t want to give away the exact location, for fear someone would try to harm the giant rodent.

“It was about 30 years ago,” he told Crypto Crew researcher Thomas Marcum. “It was a very general geographic area,” he added.

The anonymous eyewitness says he doesn’t want to give too much information about the area of the alleged sighting in order to protect this “rare animal” from “unwanted” human activity.

The man believes the rodent was about 14 feet long with an estimated weight of 350 pounds. It is believed that giant beavers, also known as Castoroides, went extinct about 10,000 years ago.

You saw a giant beaver 30 years ago? That’s nothing, a mere 47 years ago I could fly down stairs! I carefully explained to my disbelieving sister that I could only do it when no one was watching, because mysteries must be protected you know. Which I think makes my story more believable. To be fair, people were certain the ivory billed woodpecker was extinct until someone found one lurking in the back woods. I guess it’s theoretically possible castorides could be hiding in Maine.

Well, maybe not Maine.

Onto Montana where a wastewater staffer who has been told to protect the precious levys by killing beavers. A lot of beavers.

Pat Brook has nothing against beavers, but Hurricane Katrina forced his hand

Up until six years ago, though, Brook says, he’d never given beaver a second thought.

“Why would I?”

The answer is Hurricane Katrina. After New Orleans’ levees failed in 2005, FEMA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers began reevaluating other levees across the country, identifying deficiencies and tasking local officials with fixing them. When Missoula’s time came in 2011, the feds found that beavers were burrowing into a portion of the levee stretching from California Street to Russell. Their directive: Get rid of the beavers. And so, over the past six years, Brook has trapped 21 beavers near the California Street footbridge with the help of Dave Wallace, a Kila-based private contractor who specializes in wildlife control and removal.

“Let’s face it, you’re right on a primary corridor there,” Wallace says. “Basically, trapping is just preventative maintenance.”

Even so, Brook hates to call what they do trapping. It’s a practice he doesn’t support. “I mean, what’s the word I’m looking for? Barbaric?” From day one, he’s bucked the advice he says he received from Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks to simply kill the critters. Instead, he’s insisted on releasing the captured beavers at either Kelly Island or Fort Missoula, the two sites that FWP, which issues his permits, instructed him to use for relocation. Keeping the beavers alive carries an additional $50-per-beaver charge, and Wallace says Missoula is “the only place [in the state] where that’s carried out.” Brook sees it as money well spent.

“It sucks, but I gotta do it,” he says. “There’s a reason I’m here doing it, but I’d rather leave them alone.” According to Brook, the city’s bill for beaver relocation since 2011 totals $15,023.03.

City officials haven’t exactly been keen to discuss their approach to the beaver problem, fearful of how the trapping might play with the public. In fact, Brook found himself at the center of a dust-up in early April after two women confronted Wallace while he was setting cages. Brook says the situation escalated rapidly, drawing in both Missoula police and FWP.

The April incident has made increased public awareness inevitable. So Brook is now crafting a new plan, one that calls for installing large beaver-resistant rocks, or rip-rap, along the threatened stretch of levee. The project will have “a hefty price-tag,” he says, and would have to get the OK not just from city administrators, but from the feds as well.

I don’t know about you, but I’m still scratching my head about this article even though there not a word I disagree with. The waterway would be full of beavers using it as a freeway on their way to disperse, and killing every single one and throwing away the skin isn’t ‘trapping’ by any stretch of the word.

But the odds of him getting approval for  the rip rap plan are pretty slim. Just  like the odds of relocated beavers dumped in a neighboring lake surviving are also pretty slim. The army corps of Engineers were always crazy about their levies, and since Katrina they’ve become downright levy nazi’s. Remember a couple years back when they told California that if vegetation was left standing on a levy it wouldn’t be treated as their responsibility in a flood?

Sure, more erosion. That’s what levy’s need.

Well I wish Mr. Brooks all the luck in the world on his quest, and wrote him some advice about cost saving arguments to wield. In the meantime we should just all appreciate the fact that there is at least ONE wastewater operator in Montana that thinks endless depredation of beavers is cruel and pointless, and that’s something.Capture

Finally, CBC radio is fondly remembering one of their most famous stories today. Apparently this story was listened to and shared more than any other. The narrator is a mild-mannered canadian man who apparently wished the beaver no harm, and holds no grudges. I found the whole thing grizzly in the extreme, but I was somewhat touched by his comments at the end. Listen if you dare.