Archive for the ‘Beavers elsewhere’ Category

Breaking the ice with Beavers

Posted by heidi08 On December - 9 - 2016ADD COMMENTS

Yesterday I asked how beavers break the ice – using their heads, backs or tails? I needn’t have wondered. When anyone has any question about beavers at all they only need to do one thing. Ask Bob Arnebeck because he’s  seen it before and has it on film. I love this video more than Christmas itself. Turn the sound UP so you can hear the ice cracking in the beginning.

Isn’t that wonderful? Not only does the beaver break the ice and gain exit, he uses all three methods in a row! Because, why limit yourself?

I had always thought about the importance of breaking OUT of the ice so you can forage for food when your cache gets low, but this video made me think of the other, more pressing concern. Sometimes in these temperatures the water is quick to refreeze. That means it can be a struggle for the beaver to get back IN! A beaver who’s frozen out has no warm lodge, no family members to cuddle with and can’t reach his food cache. There must be some beavers who can’t get back in and simply die of exposure or predation eventually.

Not this beaver. The video’s a little blurry but watch how he deals with that big sheet of ice that covers his exit hole.

If I haven’t told you often enough, I LOVE BEAVERS. They are SO COOL! Thank you Bob!


Another fine beaver report from Eastern Massachusetts – where we need beaver wisdom most! This from Langsford Pond in Glouster, lovingly recorded and described by Kim Smith on the award winning blog, Good Morning Glouster.


Beaver Pond, also known as Langsford Pond, is located on the outskirts of Cape Ann’s Dogtown. Exquisitely beautiful and peaceful, the pond is teeming with life, habitat largely created by the relatively new presence of the North American Beaver (Castor canadensis).

Beavers are ecosystem engineers and the ponds they create become wildlife magnets. Think about just this one example of the ecology of a beaver pond: woodpeckers make holes in the dead trees engineered by Beaver activity, Wood Ducks nest in the holes created by the woodpeckers, and raptors hunt the smaller birds.

More examples of how Beavers benefit other species of wildlife include favored nesting sites of both the Great Blue Herons and Osprey are the dead treetops of older trees in beaver swamps. Local species of turtles, the Snapping Turtle and the Eastern Painted Turtle, benefit from abundant vegetation created by beaver tree felling, which causes the forest to regenerate. Snapping and Eastern Painted Turtles prefer standing and slow moving water and hibernate under logs and lodges of Beavers. Painted Turtles also use floating logs to bask upon.

Langsford pond is all the way at the ocean end of the state – the side that isn’t usually too patient with beavers. The pond is near the Atlantic 150 miles from Skip Lisle or Mike Callahan and 300 miles from Beavers: Wetlands and Wildlife. Wherever she gleaned her beaver information it probably wasn’t from any  of them, but its refreshingly accurate nonetheless!

Thanks Kim, for a beautiful look at a baystate beaver pond!

Beaver Orange is the New Black

Posted by heidi08 On December - 8 - 2016ADD COMMENTS

Beaver appears to be causing flooding to land on, near prison

A beaver appears to be causing some flooding issues to land on and near the Hutchinson Correctional Facility, but it looks like there isn’t much anyone can do about it.

Jeff Nichols, City of Hutchinson public works maintenance/flood control superintendent, said a beaver dam has caused water to back up along the Cow Creek in this area in years past and it wouldn’t be atypical for it to happen again.

In the past couple of days the high water has been on the west and east side of K-61 between Avenue G and Blanchard.

Nichols said the creek crosses multiple private properties and it is the owners’ responsibility to maintain it – including beaver dams.

Craig Curtis, Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism regional wildlife supervisor, said based on Kansas law you can get rid of the beaver, but you legally can’t get rid of the dam.

Curtis said the landowner can reach out to the department for information on a water level control device that can be put inside the dam to keep the water an at acceptable level

Hutchinson correctional facility is in Kansas, where you are apparently allowed to kill beavers as long as you don’t destroy dams. Not sure about the logic in that – I’m sure it’s flood related but I would think that if beavers aren’t around anymore to tend the dam it will eventually break and cause flooding anyway?

I’m pleased at least to see that Kansas knows about flow devices. What do you want to bet that paper would describe the expensive and unreliable Clemson and not Mike or Skip’s Designs?

A pleasant winter trip to the pond from Larry Weber of Minnesota makes me wish that we had snow. Sure feels cold enough anyway.

Northland Nature: A recent visit to a beaver pond reveals.

With all these changes — cold, snow and the beginning of the freeze up — it was time to visit to a beaver pond.


John Warner photograph, Montana

Each November, I like to wander through the woods and adjacent field to a favorite beaver pond. This year, I was able to observe a few others as well. I like to see if the beavers are still present and how well prepared they are for the coming winter season. Three beaver lodges that I went to in past weeks revealed newly cut branches on the top with saplings in the nearby water to serve as food. None were large, but each showed activity. Often in the previous weeks of AutWin, I was able to watch the beavers as they swam by.

As I went towards the large beaver pond, I walked in the new snow cover. AutWin may be over, but now the next chapter in the seasonal changes begins. Though I cannot see many of the low plants that I saw in the woods last week, I could see the animal tracks that tell of their activity during these recent days and nights. Even before I left the yard, I found footprints of deer, squirrel, deer mice and shrew. Within the woods, I noted where a ruffed grouse and fox have passed and a runway of snowshoe hare. Out in the field, I found the tunnel openings in the snow made from underneath by the local field mice. These vole holes are always very common early in the snow season. Arriving at the beaver pond, I saw a few coyotes had left their tracks as they moved along the shore. A more adventurous raccoon tried walking on the new slushy ice. And out in the center of the pond, I saw what I came here to observe: the beaver lodge.

The structure is large and solid. Looking it over, I saw the aquatic dwelling site has many recent cut branches on it; the beavers have worked much in previous weeks to reinforce the strength of their home. Nearby in the water are many branches and twigs sticking up above beaver reaching snowner photogfraph, Montanathe pond’s surface. This large gathering of woody material tells of a well-stocked cache of food that allows the beavers to have meals all winter. Though the cache is wet and cold, it does give enough substance and nutrition for these large water rodents. The entire pond was covered with ice, except for a small open space near the lodge. Here the beavers are able exit from their unique house if they desire to do so. (I have previously found their tracks on the nearby shore, but not this time.)

From the size of the lodge and cache, it looks like a whole family will be wintering here. I have visited this beaver pond every November for years and nearly always I find what I saw that day. They appear to be doing fine. It was a good walk and visit to the beaver pond and I wish them well for the coming winter.

I love to think about beavers planning ahead for the snow. It never ceases to amaze me that they make a food cache and share with family members. My  dream is to someday see the cracks they make in the ice before it freezes up so they can have access as long as possible. I wish I could see how they do it, Do you think they use their heads or strong backs? Beavers in snow work so much harder than ours. But it never troubles them. It’s not like you ever see a mass migration of beaver retirees moving to the warmer temperatures so they can take it easy in their golden years.

Of course this beautiful glimpse of beaver under the ice is from our good friend Bob Arnebeck. Thanks Bob.

Czechmate for beavers

Posted by heidi08 On December - 7 - 2016ADD COMMENTS

The poor beleaguered Czechs. They are being invaded by beavers. Or at least think they are. Given this photo I’m not so sure.



The article mentions that wrapping trees with wire or painting is a good way to protect them. And failing that suggests keeping a dog in the hard or gluing dogfur to the tree trunk will help. (Dogfur?) But I suppose children need crafts with the winter holidays coming up. (And it sure looks like someone glued dogfur to that photo.)

Which, I’m sure you know, is a nutria and not a beaver.

The most severe damage is caused by the dams that these rodents build because they raise water level and may inundate the surroundings. Besides, beavers damage levees in ponds. This is also why steel nets have been installed on the reconstructed ones.

On the other hand, some dams built by beavers help during floods as they slow down the water flow during snows thawing and torrential rains, MfD writes.

Wow, they even took time to mention beaver dams do some good. I guess the takeaway from this article is that the  Czech republic, where slightly more than 10,000,000 people earn salaries of just over 1000 a year, uses culvert protection and wraps trees to prevent beaver damage which makes them much, much smarter than us.

Think about that while you listen to one of my favorite pieces of music of all time.

Rolig bäver skämt!

Posted by heidi08 On December - 6 - 2016ADD COMMENTS

Apologies in advance for using google translate but my Swedish is -er- rusty. Yesterday I received an email for the owner of an ecotour company in Sweden asking me what the best beaver tours were in the west. Could I recommend some for his itinerary through the western states? I politely explained that I had friends dotted around that could show him local colonies but as far as I knew there were NO professional tours in the US. He was surprised and said that there were at least 20 in Sweden!

calvin-and-hobbes-laughIt took a while to catch our breaths again after the hearty chuckle to think that of the day when California (about the same size as Sweden) sported 20 professional  beaver tours. (That would be like four in the bay area alone!) I, of course, went to check out his website.

captureThe1 tour runs 5 hours and costs around 150 dollars per person. It is lead by strapping young wildlife guides who know what to look for and are wonderfully fluent.   The tour includes an outdoor meal by the lake and advice on how to get thcapturee best photographs. Their website says that beavers are seen most nights and often feed near the boat.

Just like a visit to the footbridge in Martinez except fewer homeless and 150 dollars a head.

Marcus thought it odd that there were no tour programs and suggested he might be able to help us start one? Just our luck because we’re such fools in Martinez we’ve been giving free tours to 500 people a year at the festival and on call when we could have been making top dollar! (500 x 150 x 10) adds up to nearly  a million dollars!

calvin-and-hobbes-laughCertainly we know in Martinez that folks are interested in Beavers and appreciate the chance to see them or see evidence of them. Jon could tell you how eagerly folks listen to his many tours and crowd for a chance to see a chewed tree or dam. Maybe there is a future for us in beaver tourism? Ahh Marcus, you have made us dream of the possible and reach for the stars! Thanks for that!

Speaking of glimpses of rare wildlife I was particularly moved by this short celebration of reintroducing fishers on Mt. Rainier tribal land this Saturday. Fishers were all trapped out like beavers for their rich fur and hadn’t been seen in hundreds of years. We know from our beaver mileage that sometimes the easiest way to get around the feds and bring back a species is to just do it on sovereign land where federal rules have no jurisdiction. Then wait for the successful animals to reintroduce themselves over the borders.

Surrounded by riches and treasures

Posted by heidi08 On December - 5 - 2016Comments Off on Surrounded by riches and treasures

It’s Monday, you have tons of Christmas wrapping and decorating to do, so you need this. Really.


Back when famed wildlife photographer was photographing our ill-fated baby beavers, she would Suzi at workhave to leave occasionally to go to Washington where Sarvey rehab facility had a very small baby beaver that she needed to include with the photos for the beaver story for Ranger Rick. I remember because in the beginning she talked about filming him in a ghillie suit because he shouldn’t learn to trust humans. The timing is right and I think this little guy was it.

Never A Dull Bling

I work at Sarvey Wildlife Care Center, a rescue and rehab facility for wildlife.

In May 2015, this baby beaver was discovered by some campers.  He was without his mother and too young to survive on his own, so the campers brought him to us.  We actually already had a female beaver with us who was rehabbing from an animal attack, and the two beavers were eventually put together.  The older female became a surrogate to the baby male. The two beavers spent a year with us.  This past spring they were both released, together, in a secluded area with lots of access to trees, water, and natural habitat.

Beavers play a crucial role in biodiversity.  Many species rely on beaver-created habitat, and a lot of these species who rely on beavers are threatened or endangered.  This year, the baby American beaver was made Patient of the Year at Sarvey. Ornaments and cards were made to celebrate this particular animal.


  • Decrease damaging floods
  • Recharge drinking water aquifers
  • Remove pollutants from surface and ground water
  • Drought protection
  • Decreased erosion

Sarvey does excellent rehab work and has earned a reputation throughout the world for their wildlife care. Aside from having the very cutest kit photo I have ever seen, they understand why beavers matter, which isn’t always the case. If you want to send them some love donate here because they deserve it.

Now there’s something that I’m even more excited to talk about. It’s an article in the very respected magazine Natural History that a beaver buddy alerted me to yesterday. The article is by Katy Spence and she obviously  spent some quality time with our beaver friends in Alberta with Dr. Glynnis Hood and Lorne Fitch of Cows and Fish. You can’t believe how great this article is. Guess what the title is. Go ahead, guess.

hydroDing! Ding! Ding! That’s the title I have been waiting for a decade to read! Somebody give Katy a Worth A Dam t shirt! Unfortunately the very impressive article isn’t online and doesn’t want to be shared with the likes of people who haven’t purchased a subscription, so it required stealth to obtain and sharing it with you requires stealth as well. I figured I’d put the cute baby photo on the top and all the copyright police would walk on by saying ohh, just some cute animal loving website; nothing to see here, move along.

Are they gone? Shhh. It starts with the account of Pierre Buldoc, who wanted to use beaver on is private land.

Sometimes called “nature’s engineers,” the North American beaver (Castor canadensis) is one of the few mammals — including humans — that substantially alters the landscape to suit its own needs. In fact, ecologists consider beavers to be a keystone species because their presence or absence will drastically change an ecosystem. With increasingly extreme weather events, ever-growing human populations, and declining freshwater sources, some beaver advocates believe the animals offer a vital, natural solution for retaining water in ponds and mitigating floods in other riparian ecosystems.

When Bolduc first proposed reintroducing beavers to the landscape, his neighbors — not to mention county officials — were not happy. Beavers had previously clogged a nearby culvert, which, in turn, often washed out the road. They were a nuisance, so the county removed them. Property values, crops, and roads in many rural areas have suffered damage from beaver construction sites. Sometimes, the territorial rodents will cut a favorite tree or even kill curious pets.

Yet, the rodents have had a tremendous impact on Bolduc’s pond. After approaching each of his neighbors individually about the beavers to convince them to try his reintroduction experiment, they eventually agreed. He even suggested an alternate solution for the county road: beaver-proof culverts. Unlike standard culverts, which run parallel to the water, these culverts are perpendicular — letting water rise into them like a straw in a glass. If the water gets high enough, it will drain through a connected horizontal pipe that runs underneath the road, preventing floods. Even when the beavers’ dam breached in May 2016 and drained hundreds of thousands of gallons of water, the culvert prevented a flood.

As climate change increases the risk of extreme weather events, some scientists are eyeing beavers as a tool for maintaining volatile watersheds. In 2008, Glynnis Hood, an environmental scientist at the University of Alberta-Augustana who specializes in wetland ecology and the impact of beavers, published a paper describing beavers’ unprecedented ability to mitigate drought. She and her team analyzed fifty-four years of drought data from Elk Island National Park in Alberta and found that where beaver dams were present, there was more water-up to nine times that of a pond or water source without beavers. Because beaver ponds are so much deeper than other ponds, water lasts longer, even in times of drought.

Hood has continued to examine the nuanced effect beavers have on a landscape, as well as how humans respond to them. She’s completing a study that compares costs of different beaver management efforts. The study will contribute to a larger project, called Leave it to Beavers, which aims to reduce human-beaver conflict. The Alberta-based, inter-agency effort uses citizen science to gather information about the long-term effects beavers can have on a landscape. The project is composed of several agencies, including the Alberta Riparian Habitat Management Society, a non-government agency informally known as “Cows and Fish.” Cows and Fish works with landowners and stakeholders to clarify how water flows through different landscapes, especially agricultural areas.

A riparian specialist for Cows and Fish, Lome Fitch, is trying to spark discussions about living with beavers. He offers a voluntary workshop on how beavers affect the landscape and how humans can peacefully coexist with them. He isn’t interested in pushing people to accept beavers, necessarily. He’s simply holding the door open. “You don’t bring people to the middle,” Fitch said. “You just start them thinking about where their position is and, hopefully, use that and expand their information sources. Maybe they’ll continue to migrate towards the middle.”

Fitch developed a ten-step list of goals, the first of which is building tolerance. Perhaps the most formidable step will be to change government policy in Alberta. The province has no clear policy concerning beavers, leaving confusion over what is permitted and what is not when it comes to relocation and rehabilitation.

The article goes into a full description of flow devices and how they work, and talks about how Glynnis and her students are using them effectively and teaching others how to use them. It even talks about how polarizing beavers are, Rachel Haddock of the Miitakis Institute calls them the ‘Wolves of the watershed’ because people either love them or hate them. Ahh! Sounds familiar!

Then it ends on this POWERFUL note.

If people are willing to compromise with beavers now, the result could be a new narrative in which humans and wildlife co-engineer a healthier, more resilient landscape. The big unknown is whether or not we can move past old assumptions.

That sure is the big unknown alright. But wowowow! What a fantastically public place to put this out there. We can only hope it gets read and circulated in all the right places. Lets hope someone leaves it on the governor’s desk right away. And decorates the halls of congress with it. And forces everyone waiting in line trying to get a depredation permit to read it. And if, btw,  you work somewhere someone needs to read it email me, and we’ll see what we can do.


Umwelt und Bieber

Posted by heidi08 On December - 4 - 2016Comments Off on Umwelt und Bieber

captureThis is a really fun article written by grad student Kathleen Onorevole for UNC-CH Marine Sciences Graduate Student Blog. She writes very intelligently about a dissertation being dramatically changed by some stubborn beaver activity in Huntley Meadows in VA. (Where our good friend Ann Cameron Siegal has been photographing for years.)

What this author doesn’t suspect is that dissertations were also changed by beaver activity for Dr. Glynnis Hood (who was trying to research drought when beaver ponds kept ruining her data), Dr. Suzanne Fouty (who had a nice hydrology study arranged which beavers ruined),  Dr. Michael Pollock (whose salmon research was ‘falsely’ inflated by beavers and recently for Dr. Arthur Gold who was just trying to research Nitrogen when beavers kept moving in and messing up his study.

I’m not an grad student, so I don’t know the fancy German word for it. I just say: beavers change things. It’s what they do.

Maybe Kathleen thinks this has never happened before. We could show her many times where smart researchers either hop on the beaver train, or get off the tracks. Right? This is a fun article and I plan on quoting her heavily! You should go read the whole thing, though. It’s well worth it.

When Animals Take Over (Restoration Projects)

beaver face ann

Beaver at Huntley meadows: Ann Siegal

Most productivity gurus say that when you hit a wall, you should switch tasks.  This is how I ended up reading a paper about beavers who managed to hijack a wetland restoration for their benefit.  So congratulations!  You’re in the right place to learn some fancy philosophy terms and think about wetlands from a whooole new perspective.

The wetland in question is Huntley Meadows Park, a Fairfax County Park in Alexandria, VA, just south of DC.  The 1500-acre park is surrounded by a busy metropolitan area and bordered by I-95, but you wouldn’t know it from the photos.  .  In the early 1990s, restoration plans began, prompted by a decrease in rare bird sightings coupled with the realization that intervention was necessary to maintain a functional wetland.  This is where the beavers come in.

This was news to me, I knew something about the history of Huntley Meadows and have even met the former beaver director there, who’s now the director of Laguna de Santa Rosa. But I didn’t know that a dissertation was done on HM by Dr. Gwendolin McCrea. And I didn’t know this term, which fascinates me:

 The second idea is umwelt, an animal’s view of the external world.  Umwelt strikes me as the framework that makes stories like Watership Down possible: animals are assumed to have narratives of sort as they respond to and navigate the world on their own terms, unaware of human motivations.

Suffice it to say that the beaver umwelt vision of the park was different than the park planners with their charts and research. They wanted a path to go here and the wetlands here, and you know what beavers wanted.

beaver back ann

Beaver from the back: Ann Siegal

Maybe the solution is to kill all the beavers?  Nope, park visitors like them and would not be happy.  Huntley Meadows also couldn’t outsource them to other local wetlands, who already had their own beaver communities.    This brought up a catch-22: the beavers had been partially responsible for people’s attraction to the park, but the wetland couldn’t persist with the beavers present.  The solution, it turned out, was to “manage beaver behavior without managing the beavers themselves.”  A team from Clemson University developed a pipe system that dispersed water flow, lessening the environmental stimulus that would normally prompt beavers to create dams.  As McCrea explains, the pipes accounted for the beavers’ umwelt– and exploited it.  One problem solved!  The beavers could continue to live in Huntley Meadows, building fewer dams and therefore not damning the wetland.

Yes, so they installed a flow device. And it altered the beaver effect enough that the park could exist and the beavers exist. I guess in Virginia it is worth a dissertation, but sheesh, it happens all the time. It even happened in Martinez.  That’s no reason to start using German words to describe it.

So humans were the power brokers in that scenario, but the tables were about to turn.  When planners were designing observation trails, they identified a key value of the dispositif: visitors loved watching the beavers putter around, meaning that the beavers had to be visible for those people to continue visiting.  This led to restoration elements designed just for the beavers, including a dam [SHE MEANS LODGE]  that encroached on the boardwalk and a stand of trees that was fenced on a rotating basis.  In McCrea’s words, the accommodations “enroll[ed] the beavers themselves as an element of the governing dispositif directed toward the creation of environmental subjects.”  Translation: the beavers were calling the shots now.

I have to say I like the idea of protecting a stand of trees on a rotating basis so that the public can see the chewing but the park can keep some trees.  I like the idea that people’s interest in beavers shaped public planning, and ahem, can we think of where else that happened?

The author is not totally sold on the idea of not killing all the beavers but she thinks it’s interesting. She ends with a reference to the dissertation.  Do you think we’re in the reference section? Bob Kobres is their anyway you can find me a copy?

McCrea, Gwendolin. 2016. Castor canadensis and urban wetland governance- Fairfax County, VA case study. Urban Forestry and Urban Greening 19: 306-314.

Final thoughts? The stated point of Huntley Meadows was to promote biodiversity. And the planners were worried that the beavers were going to ruin that. Ahem.




Hoosers wrapping trees?

Posted by heidi08 On December - 3 - 20161 COMMENT

Don’t say it never can happen Now we’re wrapping trees in Indiana. YES Indiana!

Beavers becoming a gnawing problem along rivers in downtown Fort Wayne

Volunteers have begun wrapping the base of large trees with metal hardware cloth to protect them.

City officials still are debating and discussing downtown riverfront development, but some of Nature’s engineers already have bit into the project with their own plans.

Several beavers living in the rivers in downtown Fort Wayne have been gnawing the bark off the base of large trees along the riverbanks, which eventually kills the trees and can lead to the tree falling into the river, said Dan Wire, a lifelong user of local rivers and executive director of the locally based Tri-State Watershed Alliance.

“What we have found is the beavers really like the cottonwoods and willow trees,” Wire said. The loss of the trees also causes other problems, because river willows are really good at stabilizing stream banks to prevent erosion, he said.

That’s why he and several students from The Crossing braved the cold Friday to wrap hardware cloth, a type of metal fencing, around the bases of large trees growing on the east side of the St. Marys River along the grounds of the Old Fort, 1201 Spy Run Ave. The Crossing works with students who have struggled in traditional school settings to improve their academic success, provide job training and offer faith-based character education.

The hardware cloth prevents beavers from chewing on the tree bark underneath, protecting the tree, Wire said. People aren’t allowed to hunt or trap wild animals in city parks or within 500 feet of them, which would include the area around the Old Fort and Headwaters Park.

Okay, first of all, we’re really happy you’re wrapping trees instead of trapping straight outta the gate. Maybe the photographer is confused but that’s not a beaver chew mark. Beavers don’t just take the bark, like  nibbling the chocolate outer coating off an oreo. They want to sharpen their teeth on the creamy inner goodness too, and they want that tree to fall so the part they REALLY want, all those leaves and little branches, falls down where they and their kids can reach it.
Second of all, we’re not wild about hardware cloth. It’s a pain to cut for one – and fasten – and I’m not convinced its strong enough to discourage some really hungry beaver in winter. And btw you should leave room for the tree to grow. And for Pete’s sake your name is WIRE so wtree_wraphy didn’t you use WIRE like almost every smart person who wants this work?

Well, we’re glad you’re wrapping trees, anyway. Baby steps, right?
mathTrying out a new simple graphic for kids this summer. What do you think?