Archive for the ‘Beavers elsewhere’ Category

European beavers are thriving — but

Posted by Bob Kobres On February - 20 - 2017ADD COMMENTS

Why Bavarians are eating beaver with their beer

There’s no new beaver news so far this week but there were a few blurbs from last week that Heidi didn’t mention. This one from Germany is sort of a mixed bag.

Apparently there are too many beavers in Bavaria. But they’re also simultaneously under protection status. Luckily those clever southerners have found a solution.

Beaver reportedly goes great with bacon and truffles, cooked in a Bockbier, or in a casserole – at least according to Die Welt.

“Beaver tastes delicious,” one hunter told the newspaper.

The woodland creatures were once nearly exterminated in Germany due to over-hunting, and they were later placed under nature protection status. Now that they’ve made a comeback in recent years, there are perhaps too many of them.

But according to Bavarian environment and CSU politician, Josef Göppel, as long as you employ the ‘protection through use’ principle, it’s okay to serve them for dinner.

“If the population develops so encouragingly, people can also use the beaver,” Göppel told Die Welt.

There are now around 30,000 beavers across Germany, 20,000 of them in Bavaria alone.

For farmers, the semiaquatic rodents are like a “plague”, writes Die Welt – they cause fields and meadows to be plunged under water, and they cut down trees to build their homes. Bavaria provides €450,000 annually to make up for the damage.

If the damage becomes too great, beavers may be hunted with permission from the responsible authorities and in 2015, 1,435 were “taken out of nature,” as it’s officially called.

After inspection by an official veterinarian, the beaver meat can be served, though the animal’s special protection means it cannot be sold commercially or placed on a restaurant menu.

Instead, beaver dishes can be seen in private venues, such as on the plates of sports clubs members, or of so-called Stammtisch groups (people who regularly meet).

Hunter Jürgen Füssl in Altenstadt, Upper Palatinate told Die Welt that he serves beaver to his friends and acquaintances, using the fur to make himself a hat.

Bavarian Farmer Association president Walter Heidl sees the ability to hunt beavers as allowing for peaceful coexistence between agriculture and nature protection.

“Most nature protectionists in Bavaria know how beaver tastes,” Heidl said.

At least the taking of beaver is limited by the strict rules. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that more beavers fell victim to BMWs than the appetite for beaver!

On a lighter note, beaver are changing the balance of power! :*)=

UKIP loses council seat to a beaver

Local by-elections were a bit of an oddball affair this week, with both the Conservatives and the Lib Dems losing seats to local parties and the Greens gaining one from UKIP on a pro-beaver platform: 

Green candidate in Lydbrook stood on restoring beavers to Greathough Brook to reduce flooding. I know that was worth staying up for

 That’s it for today.

Wagons Ho-Ho-Ho!

Posted by heidi08 On February - 19 - 2017ADD COMMENTS

It’s the last time you’ll be hearing from me for a while  and lord knows that must be a kind of Sunday comfort.  Tomorrow is Bob’s grand debut so don’t forget to give him plenty of positive feedback.

conference Our new rule is only good news on Sunday, so I have a few fun things to share before I go. Paul and Louise are coming to dinner Tuesday night and maybe Leonard and Lois too, so we have lots to look forward to. But don’t feel left out,  you get treats as well. The first is a lovely discussion of ecological engineers from our old friend Mary Willson in Juneau.

On the trails: Ecological engineers

We use the word “engineer” in a confusing variety of ways and contexts, but here I mean to refer to organisms that create physical structures or changes in the environment — physical changes that affect other kinds of organisms. The concept is still very broad — one could say (and some researchers do so) that a forest of trees or large kelp, or a tallgrass prairie or an eelgrass bed, produces an environment in which temperature, humidity, air or water currents, precipitation patterns, or soils may be altered, thus affecting many other organisms by providing habitat or access to resources.

However, here I want to consider other “engineers” — those that deliberately, intentionally make or modify physical structures for their own purposes, with collateral consequences for other organisms.

The most well-known ecological engineers in the natural world are beavers. By building dams, they impound water, raising the water table, creating ponds, sometimes preventing floods, but also flooding low-lying areas. Although they may instinctively respond to the sound and feel of running water by trying to build a dam, they make deliberate choices about the size and shape of a dam and its component parts; they also maintain their structures continually. Beaver ponds provide good habitat for fish, especially juveniles, aquatic insects, various birds, and certain plants, although they obviously destroy portions of the adjacent area by flooding it. Some dams are hundreds of yards long and some are many feet high, depending on the terrain. A well-constructed, well-maintained beaver dam can last for many years, and its effects on the landscape may persist long after the beavers have moved on: the pond gradually fills with sediment and dead vegetation and eventually turns into a meadow.

We’re number ONE. Beavers make it happen! Mary goes on to describe other engineers but of course we’re spec-ist around her and we only care about the first one. If you would like to be smart and entertained, go read the others and learn about the wanna be-avers. I’m just going to bask in the recognition that beavers are the job-creators of an entire community.

The second wonderful thing is a photo I came across and having been saving for the right moment to share. It’s titled “Beaver playing the flute” for obvious reasons. All I know about this photo is on the caption below. But isn’t that fun?

Beaver, Playing the Flute? (by Alexander Koenders)

The third thing I want to share is the AMAZING donation we received from artist Sara Aycock. She’s a very clever woman in Boise Idaho with a book coming out next fall. I fell in love with her “Victorian Animals” series and she was crazy generous sendng 5 beautifully framed giclee prints that will completely knock your socks off. Each print comes with a framed character description as well. I’m partial of course to Mr. Beaverton. You need to go right now to her etsy store and support this kind of generosity and talent, because something tells me there will be a line waiting to bid on these delightful items at the auction.



The Rodney Dangerfield of beavers

Posted by heidi08 On February - 18 - 2017ADD COMMENTS

Apparently I insulted an entire state yesterday. Which is very often par for the course, I know, but still unsettling to wake up to. I am not particularly dismissive of a single state am I? (Well, maybe Oklahoma, but after what happened to our EPA yesterday does that really count?) In fact, I remember being pretty darn snotty to the state that I sometimes call beaver Mecca  when they suddenly published a laughably stupid article. Yes, I can be condescending, but I like to think I offend all regions equally.

(Next week Bob will be posting from Georgia and I’m sure he’ll offend no one.)

Sorry, my floor heater stopped working this morning and things feel kind of unmerciful without it. Add to that I received the winter newsletter of Beavers: Wetlands and Wildlife yesterday which contains a retrospective on our story ten years later.  Failure is an orphan, they say. But apparently success has many parents.


Not exactly the way I remember it, but now that I’m done croaking I can say that there are also lovely articles also about our good friends in the Sierra Wildlife Coalition and Bob and Jane Kobres in Georgia! Which is wonderfully fitting and I’m sure they won’t spend spend time complaining ungratefully like me. Our story notwithstanding, the BWW newsletter is a  wonderful resource with a fine summary of all things beaver. If you want to receive your own copy of the newsletter, go here to subscribe.

Can a ‘planned community’ plan for beavers?

Posted by heidi08 On February - 17 - 20173 COMMENTS

Reston Virginia is one of the first and most well known ‘planned community’ in the world. It has libraries and swimming pools and gutters all in the precise location for the maximal living experience. And now it has made sure it will have designated beavers as well.

CaptureYesterday they launched a swanky new beaver page on their website and today this article was released. Because these things shouldn’t be left to chance. Not sure exactly where posies and butterflies fit in on a beaver web page, but I think we need to grade on a curve here.

Reston Association Working to Manage Beaver Population in Glade Area

Beavers have long been a part of the Glade Stream Valley, but Reston Association is working to make sure they don’t cause destruction for nearby residents in the form of damaged trees and flooding.

“It would be hard to find a better example in Reston of a healthy, diverse, native ecosystem than the two beaver wetlands (Glade Valley and Bright Pond),” reads information provided by Claudia Thompson-Deahl, senior environmental resource manager. “Reston’s beaver wetlands are one of the few places in Reston where nature is able to thrive despite all the surrounding suburban pressures.”

Beavers, however, bring a “dramatic change” to the surrounding environment, so Reston Association has developed a beaver management policy.

Oh those pesky beavers and their darned ‘changes’.  How’s a city of 58,404  to cope? Planning is the operative word here. It was planned by Robert E Simon, named for his initials and launched on his birthday in 1964. (I’m not kidding.) You can imagine how some unplanned beavers just throw a big monkey wrench in their best laid plans – making them gang aft agley, as it were.

According to Thompson-Deahl, additional fencing is being installed to keep Glade beavers out of residents’ yards and off wooded slopes, and many individual trees have been protected with wire mesh to safeguard the pathway.

In the long term, Reston Association staff, with input from residents and wildlife experts, has developed and implemented guidelines for beaver management in the area. The primary goal is to find methods to preserve and protect substantial portions of the stream valley from beaver activity. To do so, staff plan to divide the valley into two sections.

Section 1, designated as a “Beaver Management Area,” will consist of stream valley that runs from Twin Branches Road to the bridge behind Leatherwood Drive that leads to the Hunting Horn Lane Tot Lot.

Section 2, running from Hunting Horn Tot Lot to Soapstone Drive, will be managed as a wooded stream valley.

Section 1 contains residential property, utility easements and recreational facilities. With that in mind, according to Thompson-Deahl, fencing and pipes will be used to protect those areas. Three-foot wire-mesh fencing will protect and areas threatened by beaver activity, in the attempt to ensure continuous tree cover between Twin Branches Road and Soapstone Drive. In addition, over 100 Bald Cypress trees have been planted, with wire-mesh caging around each one.

In Section 2, beaver activity will be discouraged with fencing and stream gates. According to provided information, beavers in that area “will be removed” by a licensed trapper if the discouragement fails.

According to Thompson-Deahl, beavers provide positive attributes to the ecosystem including a reduction in stream erosion, reservoirs of water during period of drought and freeze, and the creation of wetlands that support a large amount of plant and other animal life.

Don’t get us wrong, we like nature. In the appropriate areas and as long as it goes according to plan. We are a civilized people, and wild things just need to behave less wildly. You know how certain home owners associations won’t let you plant purple zalia’s or put up a flag on any day besides the 4th of July. We just want our beavers in sector 1 to stay behind the fence.

Is that so much to ask?

Which makes me think of the unplanned joys of beavers and their many trials and benefits. Even in Martinez where we worked harder to live with the animals than anywhere it’s not like we ever “asked” for beavers. Or wanted this to happen. It’s not like my life had a big open space that I was hoping beavers would rush in and fill.

But that’s just the way it is, I think.



Cheap and Cheerful Beaver Webinar

Posted by heidi08 On February - 16 - 2017ADD COMMENTS

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?

Before the curtain rises…

Posted by heidi08 On February - 14 - 20172 COMMENTS

Things are starting to take on a pre-conference craziness. I dreamed last night our beavers were living between two Killer whales at Marine World and I hired Skip to come build some kind of protection for them. When I woke up he had just told me he needed a permit to start work and I was worried how I was going to approach the city without letting them know the beavers had come back.

This morning I got an email from Paul and Louise Ramsay that they were passing near Martinez on the way to Canyonville and they’d love to visit. In addition I got an email from Gerhard Schwab of Germany that he and Duncan Haley were planning a trip after the conference and they’d love to see Martinez and our stomping grounds.

Apparently we’re a beaver flop house.

I suppose things could will get weirder the closer we get too departure. I am already so sure of a snowy drive that we have stooped to trading cars with my mother for the week. (Subaru vs. Prius) We’ll be right on the Umpqua river in nearby Tiller so I’m hoping we won’t be flooded or snowed out!  Hopefully, all will be worth it when the vast mysteries of beavers unfold before our eyes and ears at the conference.

In the meantime there are beaver tidbits too grand to pass up on the menu. First from Tallahassee FLORIDA where it never never ceases to amaze me that beavers and alligators are neighbors.

Orange Avenue construction threatens otters and beavers

Drivers should take caution as construction along Orange Avenue may pose danger for otters and beavers in the waterway underneath the road.

Animals attempt to cross the street to get to the other side of the creek, but due to a cement barricade blocking the area where they try to go around, they get run over by passing cars, said Melissa Ward, a local resident who first saw a beaver dead near the construction site three weeks ago. A week later, an otter met a similar fate. Ward said her mother has seen eight beavers dead in the past few weeks.

As if we needed ANOTHER reason to hate those cement barricades in the middle of busy streets. What on earth are animals supposed to do when they run into one of those? Just jump really high? I realize running into one is probably dimly better than running into a car going the opposite direction, but I’d much rather run into something soft and let wildlife cross safely. Jon was once saved very nicely by all that bottle-brush they tore out to replace with concrete.

A few fun items, one from the Saranac Lake Winter Carnival parade this weekend in New York.homepage logo

The Canoodlers, who wear old-fashioned orange life preservers and do dance routines with wooden canoe paddles, dress as beavers for this year’s parade. They won second place in the competitive independent walking group category, edging out the ever-popular Lawn Chair Ladies. (Enterprise photo — Lou Reuter

Heh heh heh. Let that be a lesson to you. Be careful of you might end up like this very foolish looking man who dances with canoe paddles.

The beaver that lives in trees

I think it safe to say that everyone knows that beavers live in water, leaving its safety only to forage on land or to sleep inside a lodge. While they eat both aquatic and terrestrial herbaceous plants, through much of the year, especially in winter, much of their diet consists of the bark and twigs of trees, especially poplar.

Beavers aren’t alone in their fondness for poplar. In the rodent group, there resides another species that also eats bark, twigs, and opening leaves of poplar. Porcupines eat woody material and, like beavers, possess a long intestinal pouch full of bacteria to digest cellulose. Unlike beavers, however, porcupines don’t cut down trees to access meals. They climb trees using their impressive climbing gear: huge claws and rough-skinned feet.

Apart from starvation and falling out of trees, Porcupines face another challenge. Some are shot by humans because they damage trees; others die when they cross highways or stop to glean salt from the asphalt. Porcupines are slow moving animals built for climbing, not running, and thus are prone to being hit by cars. They need not run from predators because they own a powerful defence: modified hairs known as quills.

In the vast history of our natural life, Jon and I have come across only a single porcupine that was hit by a car in the Sierras. Which doesn’t mean our paths haven’t crossed. I was fascinated to read in Dietland Muller-Swarze book that beavers are the only animal where the female young are recorded to disperse greater distances than the males – except for one other. You guessed it, the porcupine. As winter is a great time for spotting them keep your eyes pealed for these “Tree Beavers”.

But there is one silly image out there that is soo foolish I can’t even bring my self to write about it at all. Even if I did, I’m sure you know every single thing I would be likely to say. If you’ve spent any time on this website at all you’ll know IMMEDIATELY where this is. And if you’re new I’ll give you a clue. It starts with a “B”.