Archive for the ‘Beavers elsewhere’ Category

Beaver Fan Club still has Openings

Posted by heidi08 On January - 19 - 2017ADD COMMENTS

beaver strategy meetingOoh how nice to see the upcoming beaver conference get some positive press! I hope that gets many more curious people in the door.

Seven Feathers to host conference on beaver restoration

CANYONVILLE — Oregon’s official state animal, the beaver, plays an important role in the state’s wetland ecosystems. Those advocating for the beaver plan to convene next month for a series of presentations focusing on beaver ecology as a crucial part of threatened species recovery.

The fifth State of the Beaver Conference, slated for Feb. 22-24 at the Seven Feathers Convention Center in Canyonville, is meant “to provide an international venue for academia, agency and stakeholders together to disseminate information pertinent to beaver ecology,” according to Leonard Houston, conference coordinator and co-chair of the Beaver Advocacy Committee (BAC) of the South Umpqua Rural Community Partnership.

We chose the theme of ‘agents of regeneration’ largely to highlight the role that beavers play both in natural regeneration, which is ecological succession, and designed regeneration, which is restoration ecology,” Houston said.


Sherri Tippie and Me

The nicest part about this conference, and there are  many, is that the famous names you have been reading about for years here or elsewhere are walking or sitting right next to you. Or coming up to say ‘hi’ and ask

about your presentation. The truth is that it is both a blessing and unfortunate that the science of beaver ecology isn’t yet so advanced that names like Woodruff,  Obrien or Pollock can send


Mike Callahan and Me

their undergrads to do the presenting for them and report back if they find anything interesting. As renowned as they are, they have to do their reporting in person and are eager to share ideas and learn from each other. They’re even happy to hear what you have to say.

small suzanne

Suzanne Fouty and Me

Admittedly,they are probably even happier if you invite them out for a beer to say it. (And happier still if you offer to pay for it. Government salaries being what they are.)

santa barbara dinner

Michael Pollock, Mary Obrien, Sherri Guzzi, Mike Callahan and Me!

The point is, I think this is a golden moment in time where beaver science hasn’t become dominated and controlled by lofty minds and  big research institutions. You can contribute, you can interact.  They need you! But already the world is starting to shift. More and more folk are interested in taking charge of the beaver meme, and it won’t be easy and collegial forever.

Beavers are getting so famous, you better come this year. Just to be on the safe side.

Afancod for all!

Posted by heidi08 On January - 17 - 2017Comments Off on Afancod for all!


Wales is on the beaver Warpath, and  something tells me they aren’t giving up on their quest to reintroduce beavers any time soon. When Scotland gave the all clear they were immediately lining up to be next. They will be presenting at the beaver conference next month in Oregon. It’s pretty generous them to all do this separately, so we get to prolong the discussion of beaver benefits as long as possible. After they succumb, we still get all of England to do the promoting! Then what?

Proposals to reintroduce beavers to parts of Wales

A SPECIAL talk is to be held next week over proposals to reintroduce beavers to parts of Wales.

Welsh beaver project officer Alicia Leow-Dyke will be opening up the elusive world of beavers at a free event at the Centre for Alternative Technology on 24 January.

Alicia, of the Radnorshire Wildlife Trust, will talk about beaver ecology, the history and future of beavers in Wales and the impacts that beavers have on ecosystems, looking at how this can benefit many species, including humans.

In a report by the WBAI they said: “Beavers are often considered a ‘keystone’ species in aquatic environments, with an ability to modify riverine and wetland habitats to the benefit of many other species, with few negative effects.”

That sentence makes me excited and nervous in exactly equal measures. Yes, beavers modify rivers and benefit species but oh they bring a few negative effects for humans. Or at lets call them ‘challenges’. Truly solvable and worth doing but unfortunately not all people are up for a challenge. I’ll let them know when I get to meet them (assuming the sled dogs can get us both there). Here they are listed on the agenda for the State of the beaver conference:

5:00 pm – 5:45 pm

The Long Road: Returning Beavers to Wales.”

 Adrian Lloyd Jones, Wildlife Trusts Wales. Alicia Leow-Dyke, Wildlife Trusts Wales

Nice photo published this morning from Jestephotography I thought deserved sharing. His description says:

While out at Elk Island National Park this fall I stopped to set up on a family of 5 beavers , mom n pop with 3 offspring doing what beavers do.  Most of the time they where at a mid distance but this fellow decided the log right in front of me needed a good chewing.  I was belly down in the mud with my lens poking out between the cat tails for this one.

Friends in High Country News Places

Posted by heidi08 On January - 15 - 2017Comments Off on Friends in High Country News Places

Well I’ll be gosh-darned. I just opened the nicest email from the beaver-savvy author of this High Country News review. It’s the kind of email that no girl deserves twice in her life, so I may as well just cancel the account now and hang up my ‘retired beaver tale-teller’ sign. You know, way back when I was a wee snip of a beaver advocate struggling to save our beavers from a conibear I was transfixed by a wondrous article in HCN that introduced me to the beaver shaman Mary Obrien who preached a whole new way of thinking about beavers and streams and ecology. The hair stood up on my arm to think that such wisdom existed in the world. And to get such a nice email from one of its reporters – well. You can see why I’m still tingling.

Apparently, he was prompted by reading our newsletter, which we had beautifully printed and received last week. (It came out pretty sharp, so if you would like your very own copy, email me an address and I’ll be happy to send one.)I asked his permission to share the delightful email  because it’s the kind of gratifying pipe you want to pass to your circle of friends,  but in the mean time here’s his awesome review of Frances Backhouse book. And some highlights so you can see that he really gets why all this beaver business matters.

The historical lifetime of the beaver

Our relationship with North America’s largest rodent is so complex that we can no longer classify beavers as simply as Horace T. Martin did in Castorologia, an 1892 zoological monograph written when beavers hovered on the brink of extinction. Frances Backhouse — formerly a seabird and grizzly biologist, now a University of Victoria-based writer/teacher — takes a new look at this landscape-changing critter in her book, Once They Were Hats: In Search of the Mighty Beaver. The book was a finalist for the Lane Anderson award for the best Canadian science book of 2015.

For last few centuries, we’ve regarded beavers as either nuisances or commodities. Now, we’re increasingly learning how they make our landscapes livable: not only by clearing a path for settled lands and farms, but by filtering, diversifying and storing the water on which we depend. Backhouse identifies beavers as “a classic keystone species — that is, the indispensable creator of ecosystems that support entire ecological communities; an unwitting faunal philanthropist.” As a Canadian, she surely has a particular affinity for her national animal, but the beavers’ watershed stewardship blurs political borders. In her final chapter, “Détente,” Backhouse shows that countries that once fought over fur are finding between beavers and humans can help provide a cooler future, too.

First of all, if you haven’t read the book yet, buy it NOW. Because you really need to support this kind of revisionist beaver thinking. And second of all, go read the whole review because it’s very well written and will make you eager to start flipping through pages. And third, I just heard from Mr. Rich that he is willing to let me share this so here’s the first paragraph that you can use please at my eulogy.

Dear Heidi,

As we start a new year, I want to thank you for your tireless coverage of all things beaver. After reading your recent post and newsletter on the decade you have honored this marvelous rodent, I realized what a small fraction of those 10,000 viewers/week probably reciprocate with the praise and support that Worth a Dam deserves. I know that I am guilty of this, having been a daily reader for at least the last two years without ever saying a word. I am so devoted to your site because there is no other nexus with such comprehensive insights into the beaver’s ecological benefits, and wisdom about their evolving relationship with us. There are many places to learn “facts” about beavers, but you connect them with humor and heart as you bring “distant leaders and particular regional blind spots” into conversation. So I hope I speak for many hundreds more when I say THANK YOU!

Rob Rich

I honestly have never read anything that makes me happier. Or ascribes better purpose to my weirdly addictive pastime. I frankly would be making it up if I ever tried to say why I post about beavers every day, or who I think reads and depends on it. But now I have the perfect answer, and suddenly it all makes sense.

I do it for Mr. Rich.

It’s Raining Beavers!

Posted by heidi08 On January - 13 - 2017Comments Off on It’s Raining Beavers!

Reach deep in your pockets and under that couch cushion. If you find anything there other than cheetos and lint you will want to donate it to the Lindsay wildlife hospital and thank them for treating two beavers in two days, which is more than they’ve seen in two years.

The Benicia Police Department posted this video yesterday after a beaver
was found disoriented on the campus of Joe Henderson Elementary School. That beaver is apparently on the mend this morning, and the papers have amused themselves with the story.

Walnut Creek: Injured beaver found outside Benicia school

20170112_134444WALNUT CREEK — A disoriented beaver that showed up outside a Benicia elementary school early Thursday morning is recuperating at the Lindsay Wildlife Experience.

School personnel discovered the 40-pound male beaver drooling at the front door of Joe Henderson Elementary School around 5:30 a.m. Animal control officers took the beaver to the Lindsay for treatment.

Other than abrasions on its tail and the soles of the feet, the beaver appeared to be healthy, according to Dr. Guthrum Purdin, director of veterinary services at the Lindsay.

This is the second injured beaver brought to the Lindsay this week. On Tuesday, two beavers were found near Mohr Lane in Concord. One had been struck by a vehicle and died at the scene. The second beaver suffered a broken tooth and a fractured skull, and was euthanized Wednesday.

We’ve known for years about the beavers near Lake Hermann in Benicia, which is not far from the school. Cheryl has even been out to photograph them. The odd thing is that their series of beaver dams are currently upsetting public works enough that they are complaining to anyone that will listen. A reporter for the Vallejo Herald wanted to talk to me about it yesterday and find out how we managed them in Martinez. Neither of us even knew about that local rescue until last night!

North American Beaver Castor canadensis Guthrum Purdin, Director of Veterinary Services at the Lindsay Wildlife Experience, examines six-week-old orphaned kit Lindsay Wildlife Experience, Walnut Creek, CA *Model release availableDr. Guthrum is the veterinarian who treated our sick kit. He came to the beaver festival that year and is a big supporter. We are grateful that there is a safe place for beavers to recover and that compassionate teachers and animal control officers made sure he got there. Please tell them you support their beaver rescue by donating to help keep their doors open. And if you write “This is for the next beaver” on your donation we’ll be even happier.

And there’s one more thing we’re grateful for, and that has to be the silver lining in these stories.

A beaver population in Concord, in Benicia, in Napa, in Hercules, in Sonoma. We are surrounded by beavers on every side. Ten years ago that would never, ever have been possible. Ten years ago it was unheard of for beavers to suddenly appear in a  city. Worth A Dam made sure that Martinez was safe harbor for the birth of 24 kits over a decade. Even if they haven’t found their way back to Marin, these lucky beaver have changed the population of beavers in the greater Bay area for evermore.

No matter what happens now, they’ll never put that particular genie back in that bottle again.  Happy New Year!


Bad news for beavers

Posted by heidi08 On January - 12 - 2017Comments Off on Bad news for beavers

North American Beaver Castor canadensis Lodge in urban environment Napa, California

There is bad news a’plenty today for beavers. The puddles and buckets of rain that fell wreaked havoc on our flat-tailed friends. The beautiful lodge in Napa was flattened like adobe bricks under the ocean and while the well-built structure never washed away, it collapsed.  Robin went out in the morning to see the damage and Rusty sent these photos yesterday. I am stung with grief over the loss. He came back in the evening and saw one beaver hanging around in confusion. I’m guessing finding family members is job one after a displacement like this. Home is, after all, wherever your peeps are.


Flattened Lodge in Napa: Rusty Cohn

Worse still, It turns our that the beaver killed on Mohr Lane in Concord was the second one. The first was taken to Lindsay Wildlife Hospital an hour earlier. That one had a broken jaw and severe damage also and he died from his injuries. He was a smaller beaver, probably last summer’s kit. And obviously with his parent or sibling for safety. Both were killed.

The death was written about on the  the Claycord News and Talk website (the mayor is an old friend of the Martinez Beavers) and that earned a pretty interesting comments by readers.

Vehicle Hits, Kills Beaver on Mohr Lane Near Monument Blvd. in Concord

A beaver was struck and killed by a vehicle on Mohr Lane near Monument Blvd. in Concord on Tuesday night.

A ton of folks visit that sight, there have been 18 comments so far, but these two got all my attention:

Is this thing on?

I thought I saw a beaver dam on Walnut Creek between Monument and Willow Pass, upstream of the concrete drop structure. Anyone else see it from the Iron Horse this past fall? I’m guessing it’s gone with the high water.

Jojo Potato

@Is this… I guess you don’t remember this post of mine: riding along the Iron Horse trail this morning where it follows along the creek north of Monument, saw a really beautiful beaver dam across the stream. Overflow was cleverly directed around the east end and the dam solidly built with sticks and mud across the main channel. There is life in Concord! Great to see.

So there was a beaver dam and family along the Iron horse trail and we didn’t even know. Two (or maybe more) of that family were killed, and I’m sure the others are scattered and disoriented. They could easily be our offspring or descended from our offspring. I was so saddened yesterday by this news that I comforted myself by imagining starting a beaver clinic, like Mother Theresa – but for beavers.  Where lots and lots of beavers would be rescued, snugly wrapped in towels and fed cottonwood or apples until they regained their strength. Maybe you want to help?

North American Beaver Castor canadensis Danielle Mattos, Director of Animal Care at Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue, holding rescued beaver Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue, Petaluma, CA

North American Beaver
Castor canadensis
Danielle Mattos, Director of Animal Care at Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue, holding rescued beaver
Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue, Petaluma, CA


Streets Filled with Water. Please Advise.

Posted by heidi08 On January - 11 - 2017Comments Off on Streets Filled with Water. Please Advise.

martinez3Recognize this bridge? We stood on it many many nights watching our beavers tend the dam below it. Beavers who wisely thought to get outta town before all this flooding so they couldn’t be blamed. Water was pouring down Alhambra yesterday, and Escobar. In Napa Rusty says the  lodge was entirely under water and the beavers were swimming around trying to find someplace safe. We just hope that beautiful lodge holds onto that tree beside it and isn’t washed away entirely like ours was in 2011. Rain is hard on creatures everywhere.

How hard? We were informed last night that a beaver was hit by a car at Mohr Lane in Concord near the actual Walnut Creek. Poor thing was dead when Cheryl got there. I suppose he was flooded out of his home, bumped along the flooded canal until he reached a place he could climb out, and was hit by one of the hundreds of cars in the area. Beavers can manage flooding, but they are really bad around cars. They’re so low and dark even the best-intentioned driver might hit them.

I saw this footage of the Yuba River yesterday and thought how hard it was for anything that lives on the shore. We are the ones who asked for an end to drought if I remember correctly. Now I’m just looking at all the snow in Oregon and thinking I might not make it to the Beaver Conference after all.

‘Dome Sweet Dome’

Posted by heidi08 On January - 10 - 2017Comments Off on ‘Dome Sweet Dome’

The inside of a beaver lodge has captured the fancies of folks from Lewis Carol to Ian Timothy! I have been interested in art describing this because we’re thinking about doing some over/under art for our activity this festival. I thought I would show you some of my favorites so far.


Greg Newbold Art

Greg Newbold is an illustrator in Salt Lake City Utah who created this wonderful glimpse of the inside of a beaver lodge.  The colors are amazing, but even his sketch for the finished piece is pretty great. I particularly like the adorable young inhabitants inside. On his website “Life needs Art” he says about this,

I just finished up this one for an educational publisher. It’s fun to dig into details on something like this and create a feeling of reality even though this view is impossible to see in nature. I enjoyed the challenge of making the submerged portion of the beaver abode look like it was underwater which I achieved by shifting colors and values to reflect the effects of the water. Once again this is rendered in Photoshop over a graphite drawing. Size is 16″ x 11″ at 400 dpi. This one will print in the student edition as well as an oversize teacher edition to be used in group reading.

Fantastic job, Greg.  I love watching the family members swim home. Let’s just hope the book says in HUGE red LETTERS This is NOT a beaver dam. Because some people really need help telling them apart, apparently.

I did find a couple illustrations that shows the lodge, the dam, and the important food cache. This is from Miles Kelly publishing.

Or this nice peek from M.H. Peterson, although I’m not sure what that hole is at the base of the lodge. A place to turn around?

And that fun one in the snow from the Adirondack book I posted earlier this week by Mike Storey:


And of course there are a few fanciful ones that just grab our imagination. I came across this last year from an illustrator who’s name escapes me. I know it was a  female and I didn’t find it with the usual suspects looking for ‘interiors’ or ‘inside’ lodge. I will keep trying, because she deserves credit for this wonderful work. Aren’t the colors lovely?


I came across this yesterday and fell in love all over again. It is a watercolor by artist Jodi Lynn Burton of Detroit Michigan.

Get ready for some awesome inside artwork this summer I think!