Archive for the ‘Beavers elsewhere’ Category

Sometimes life in the beaver-biz is very rewarding. And sometimes it just annoys the stuffing out of me. Take this article out of Whinging-ton Ma for starters.

Hopkinton selectmen vote to trap beavers

HOPKINTON — Selectmen have agreed to hire a beaver trapper after flooding became a problem on the recently purchased Pratt Farm and neighboring properties.The board voted 5-0 on Tuesday night to pay for a plan to eliminate the beavers.“We decided we need to protect the town’s land,” Selectmen Chairman Ben Palleiko said in an interview.

Palleiko said the plan will likely cost about $5,500 — $4,000 for the trapping and $1,500 for taking apart seven dams. The board decided on an option known as a kill trap. A live trap would be as twice as expensive and the beavers would be euthanized at a later time, not released elsewhere, officials said.

How surprising! The folk in Hopkinton seemed so darned open-minded and committed to humane solutions! (Not). They have been gunning for those beavers since day one, and they kept promoting their death in the paper until they tipped the argument just enough. I especially admire the duplicity necessary to get this quote from their ‘beaver expert’ printed in the paper.

“Due to the beaver activity, an accurate flagging of wetlands may not be possible at this time, which will stall the work of the team,” she wrote in a letter to the board.The board made its decision after hearing from Malcolm Speicher, a beaver specialist, who has done work in town, including Legacy Farms. The town needs to seek bids for the work.

Speicher said it is only a matter of time before the town’s aquifers feeding to the town’s wells will be contaminated with bacteria from beaver feces.

Palleiko said Speicher believe there could be up to 40 beavers in the area.

Now mayfacepalmbe you’re wondering where they found this illustrious specialist. We are talking about MA, so maybe he’s at Cambridge? Harvard? MIT??? Ohhh no he’s a trapper who happens to specialize in beaver and fisher. So of course he knows all about beaver stools causing bacteria in the water.



And now this. Things  just got real in Mountain House. Now its time to bring out the big guns. Folks were shown Mike’s video about how to solve problems so they tried to think of an unsolvable one. We in Martinez know erosion trumps flooding. That’s why, after Skip’s flow device worked well and no one was worried about drowning anymore, the lawyer sent a letter about the foundation slipping because of unseeable burrows and that’s how Martinez got to buy 350,000 worth of sheetpile.

Obviously, this is deja vu all over again.  Officials are now saying the biggest problem is these.

20150923_145033You can guess how true I think this is. Coal mining beavers?

But I think it’s always good to ask smarter minds than mine. Glynnis Hood says that beavers in her research do cause tunnels that collapse and its possible that a bank lodge this big could exist if the beavers have been around for some time. And Mike Callahan says its theoretically possible if there are tunnels inside leading to the water.

But I think if in 10 years of having beavers in Martinez they ever excavated anything like that, the mayor would have personally thrown me in it. Michael Runtz says a bear could do this, but he doubts beaver.

Stay tuned, I’ll tell you when I hear from more folks.

Apparently beavers are going on Broadway now, with Alan Cummings new musical. This made me howl with laughter – especially the leaping ballet beavers at the end. Enjoy!

A few more gifts arrived yesterday, and I’m thrilled for beavers good fortune. The first was some promised plates from this adorable set at thirdhalfstudios. How fun are these?

And the second is a beyond lovely sterling silver floating necklace that arrived from Winterchild. Like this but with a beaver symbol and on a breathtakingly delicate sterling silver figaro chain. I’m not sure I can keep from bidding on this. You definitely shouldn’t.

Nature in the City Everywhere.

Posted by heidi08 On February - 4 - 2016ADD COMMENTS

The grand plan in Vancouver is sweeping the media at the moment and there are plenty of follow ups to the story if you want to see them. Try here and here.

Yesterday I was contacted by a member of the Grosse Ille Nature and Land Conservancy about the beavers in the Detroit River. She was very happy about what the return meant, and wanted to pull together some advocates to keep things headed in the right direction. The funny thing was, I remembered writing about this back in 2012 and saying: sure they’re happy now, but wait until those beavers start chewing trees of blocking culverts.

Beavers: marginally better than pollution!

Ahhh how Nice. Okay, mark your calendars and set your clocks, because as encouraging as this article is I predict it will be a matter of months before we start reading stories about neighborhoods with blocked culverts and chopped trees. Folks are excited when beavers come BACK to an area because they assume it means they did very good things to make it possible. Hughlet Hornbeck once explained to me that the beavers coming back to Alhambra Creek was proof that EBRP had been doing the right thing for 50 years, for example.

Then industrial pollution in the mid-20th Century made the Detroit River too toxic for beaver and many other species to return. The cleanup of the river in recent decades has seen many species making a comeback.

“This is one piece of evidence,” Hartig said of the latest beaver sighting. “But if you add in there the return of lake sturgeon, the return of lake whitefish, the return of walleye, the return of bald eagles, peregrine falcons, osprey, beaver, wild celery, it’s one of the most dramatic ecological recovery stories in North America.”

Beavers are still exciting enough along the Detroit River that the reporter does an excellent job researching their history and providing context.. Enjoy it while it lasts though, because in the blink of an eye they’ll be reporting that gangs of four foot tall beavers cut down all the trees and caused tularemia.

So it’s been three years and its time for folks to get worried about their challenging handiwork, I’m glad friends are starting to get ready for an argument. We of course will help any way we can.

Speaking of helping, I got these fun photos from the Mountain House beavers in CA, and will be working with a supporter to help her put together a beaver article for the local paper. How cool are these photos for thinking about urban beaver!


mountain house lodge

Mountain House Beaver Lodge: Caitlin McCombs

And this fine example of dam building with reeds. You see beavers use material on hand.

mountain house dam

Mountain House Dam of mostly reeds: Caitlin McComb

Yesterday I learned that the city’s primary concern is that they believe the beavers are digging tunnels under the road. The city has already filled some with concrete. For the life of me I can’t think of any reason a beaver would do THAT, so I’m guessing this story is about to get very interesting!

New donation yesterday for the silent auction from Mink Works, by animator and Illustrator Marielle Rousseau of New York. How adorable is this? I ask you honestly. Go check out all her stuff. It’s delightful and she’s a self-professed wildlife lover in addition to being a real talent,

Beaver Impressive

Posted by heidi08 On February - 3 - 2016ADD COMMENTS

Too much good news. Some days there is almost nothing to cover, and other days everything good seems to happen at once. Yesterday I found out for the first time that Patti Smith keeps a blog about her observations of wildlife. You might remember she was the gentle soul keeping an eye on the beavers of Popples Pond in Vermont. She brought some helpers to the snowy stream to reinforce their food supply yesterday.Capture

This afternoon, Margaretta and Isabelle arrived to help the stranded beavers with an offering of poplar boughs from their home in Dummerston. Once at the pond, I call to Willow and then we all sit quietly on the upside-down sled hoping that Willow won’t think it too early to come out to visit. After a few minutes, David, the lucky dad of these two great girls, spots Willow hauling herself onto the ice at one of the upstream holes.

girls&willHow much do you envy that child? Willow is such a good sport. If you’d like to read more of Patti’s adventures you should check out her blog and pick up a copy of “The beavers of Popples Pond“. You won’t be disappointed.

Now onto more good news and a fine article from Vancouver. Just in time for our urban beaver chapter, too.

Vancouver’s urban-beaver plan focuses on enhancing habitats

Several dozen beavers are thought to be living in Vancouver, some of them making themselves at home in restored marshland near the Olympic Village, and now the city’s park’s board has approved a strategy that will give them some company.

The Vancouver Park Board has approved a detailed strategy to enhance and expand coastlines, forests and wetlands across the city. The Biodiversity Strategy aims to restore 25 hectares of natural land by 2020 – much of it spread across various shorelines – as well as tackle forest restoration near the Fraser River.

“There’s lots of evidence that there are physical and mental benefits for those who access nature in their daily lives,” biologist Nick Page, of the parks board, said in an interview. “Compared to rural populations, there are few points of access to nature in the city.”

How wonderful is THAT. Of course wildlife is good for our physical and mental health. So good in fact that they might have lifted that sentence EXACTLY from my section of the chapter. I’m so envious of the beaver plan in Vancouver. The impressive thing is that they even have the chops to stand up to pressure like this.

“The problem comes when beavers start working on natural water courses,” said Wayne Goodey, a University of British Columbia lecturer with a background in animal psychology. “In general ecological principles, even a couple of animals can do a large amount of damage to the landscaping.”

Mr. Page, however, is confident that adaptation, not relocation, is the best strategy for these local beavers.

“There’s not really an opportunity for them to dam anything, and if they do, there’s very little chance of them flooding important infrastructure,” he said. “Relocation is very expensive, $10,000 each beaver. You can protect a lot of trees and clean out a lot of culverts for that price.”

 My mind is reeling from this article. What a WONDEFUL response to beavers appearing in an urban environment, and to a pompus know nothing who pretends to understand that beavers are bad for creeks. Hrmph. Think of how much our chapter will help them justify this bold decision. I am so impressed with Mr. Page. He gets a letter.

And silly Mr. Goodey does too. He apparently understands neither animals nor psychology.

Finally, I came across this yesterday and feel so irresponsible I hadn’t seen it months ago. Dietland is THE author on beavers and kind enough to donate two copies of his book to the silent auction at this year’s beaver festival. He also has done head-turning research on scent mounds, and if you ever wondered about this unique beaver behavior, you really should watch this all the way through. His video footage is fascinating.

Thank you Dr. Muller-Swarze for your lifetime of beaver research and for sharing it with us!


Shaken not Stirred

Posted by heidi08 On February - 1 - 2016ADD COMMENTS

Okay. Remember how I told you that the BBC article about farmers shooting pregnant beavers was going to get folks plenty upset? Well now they’re REALLY UPSET and it’s all over the news. I will spare you the outrage, but they’ve published the email correspondence with autopsy reports and I assure you that roar isn’t going to die down anytime soon. Hopefully by the time it does, beaver will be a protected species.


CaptureIn the meantime, let’s have some good news. Saturday was the sold out BEAVER SUMMIT in Georgia, a state whose beaver policies have made me cry on more than one occasion,  and I thought I’d share a little from our friends about it. I think more updates will come, but for now let’s hear  from Jane Kobres. Her husband Bob presented and yesterday she sent these remarks.

Things went really well yesterday. Bob was the first speaker and he mostly did historical background of beaver in N. America plus talking about how he got interested in beaver. They only allotted 15 minutes for each speaker, which was not enough. All but one of them needed more like 25 minutes, but they all ended up speaking at least 20 minutes except for one person. The attendance was good–about 40 people counting speakers. There were people from the City of Atlanta, Parks and Recreation, and some local environmental groups. Everyone seemed pretty engaged and glad to be learning about beaver. Importantly, the discussions at the end involved “what can we do” type questions.

And so it begins. Forty people in Georgia will think about responding differently the next time a pond appears in their creek. I want to call it the first informed dialogue about beavers in the state, but the inventor of the Clemson pond leveler was from Georgia so there must have been more folks who knew they were worth keeping once upon a time.  I can’t believe how far BHNP has come in such a short time, and I’m SO happy to think we encouraged and informed them along the way!

Now we need a beaver summit in EVERY state! Who wants to go next?


Don’t you think Amelia Hansen should write me back and donate something to the auction? Yeah, I do too.


Right to Beaver-Life Movement gains Momentum

Posted by heidi08 On January - 31 - 2016Comments Off on Right to Beaver-Life Movement gains Momentum

There are some grim advances on the effort to get the farmer-fueled beaver shootings into the public eye in Scotland. Early in 2015 there were reports of this happening and a flurry of requests for the government to intervene and grant protected status to the animals. After some foot dragging, it looks like they finally found the right words to get it reported by the BBC. I can’t embed the news report but click on the photo to watch it on their sight.



Pregnant beavers shot by landowners in Tayside

Beavers that were heavily pregnant or had recently given birth are among those shot by landowners in Tayside. The news has led to demands for restrictions on shooting during the breeding season and renewed calls for Scotland’s beavers to receive legal protection

Experts at Edinburgh Zoo have now carried out post-mortem examinations on 23 beavers from Tayside. They concluded that 21 had been shot, although other sources have said the total number of animals killed in this way is significantly higher.

  • Two pregnant animals were shot. The size and weight of the foetuses indicates they were very near full term
  • Two other females which were shot had recently given birth
  • There were concerns about the length of time it would have taken some of the 21 animals to die
  • At least one animal contained lead shot. It is against the law to use lead shot to kill an animal in water.

Scottish Green MSP Alison Johnstone, deputy convener of Holyrood’s cross-party group on animal welfare, has called on ministers to “get off the fence”.

“Scottish ministers need to get off the fence, accept that beavers have a positive role to play in terms of biodiversity, and that they deserve legal protection.

Go read the whole thing, as this is a fairly thorough report. The FOIA really did its job in finding the grisly facts that would get this noticed. There has been considerable debate amongst the Tayside supporters as to whether it ultimately might make the beavers safer to offer some appropriate way to depredate legally OR whether they should just insist on humane solutions only.  I understand the dilemma.

For the record my advice is to emphasize mitigation first, but once humane solutions are exhausted to allow for responsible depredation, because folks need a reminder that there are options if all these good intentions fail. It took me a while to tolerate language like “sometimes trapping is necessary” but I got there. Because it ultimately helps beavers for people to feel like they have an alternative.

I just think it should be a lot harder to get there.

Here’s some of  what I wrote for the conclusion of our urban chapter. As I don’t know whether any of it might survive editing, I’m going to share.

It is our hope that in the future, when the inevitable occurs, this chapter can serve as a reminder to fully consider potential benefits and costs before a decision is made regarding the fate of these uninvited guests.While lethal solutions may at times continue to be necessary, we believe our urban waterways are often failed by the inability to recognize other viable options.

We wish our good friends in Scotland the very best of luck figuring this out. But getting the issue into the public eye is, as usual, the most important step.

subcommitteeA follow-up to the Mountain House beaver issue discussed Friday. I heard from the concerned resident who contacted me that she was asked by the official I spoke with to pull together an ad hoc committee to study the arguments.

A Tale of Beaver in two Cities

Posted by heidi08 On January - 30 - 2016Comments Off on A Tale of Beaver in two Cities

These two cities share pretty much the same latitude, (a chilly 44) and are merely separated by 1400 miles and a great lake, but they couldn’t be more different. Especially in their attitude towards beaver activity. Funny thing is these stories appeared on the same day and are reporting about the same issue. Demographics are desitny. Let me show you what I mean.  I’m thinking we should compare and contrast, and maybe try new toy.

Capture 1

Milton Ontario

Shorewood Minnesota

“I want to clarify that regulating a creek does not mean we own it,,” said Hassaan Basit, general manager at CH. It’s gotten to the point where it’s not just the odd tree,” said Dick Woodruff, a Shorewood City Council Member. “It’s an epidemic.”

“This natural debris can play an important role in natural flood management and introduces important nutrients into the system, supporting its ecological diversity,” he stated.

“The beavers are aggressively taking down trees,” many of which have fallen on roads and power lines, Mayor Scott Zerby said.

And although it might look bad, even the dead trees on the ground are good for the environment.

“It is sad to see a big tree chopped down but it does provide opportunities for new trees to grow. It’s cutting down a renewable resource,”

About 36,000 beavers were harvested in the state last year. Officials are discussing which kind of trap would be as pain-free as possible, Brown said.

The waterlogged beaver lodges may begin to shrink, but they won’t entirely disappear because it’s hard to remove a beaver permanently from any Minnesota location.

 “Honestly, we accept and appreciate what the beaver does.”  “They’re amazing animals,” Brown said.

I would write something witty about missed opportunities and missed IQ points, but honestly this morning it just bugs the snot outta me. Minnesota sounds a little frightened of the animal lovers, but they clearly have zero idea why beavers matter. And that just means they’re working hard to maintain their state of willful ignorance.

Now for some good news. Our willow fascines and states are waking up from their sleep! Soon they’ll be some LOVELY and alluring new trees in our creek to hopefully summon the beavers back.

willow glrowing

Yesterday I happened to really look at their fancy well-funded logo and realized it needed some improvements. Do you think they’ll mind?


Muhammad goes to the Mountain House

Posted by heidi08 On January - 29 - 2016Comments Off on Muhammad goes to the Mountain House

mh_map_finalIf the name Moutain House sounds vaguely familiar it should. In the turmoil of 2008 it had the dubious distinction of appearing in the NYT as the community with the most homes “Under Water” financially. More recently they had other water issues to deal with, when their historic source was cutoff and they had to scramble to find a new one.

I wonder if you can guess how they feel about  ‘watersavers’?

35659917Yesterday I received a panicked email from a resident worried that the beavers in Mountain House creek were going to be trapped. Of course the creek was being used by the planned community as a handy drain, and they didn’t want anything backing up the water. She didn’t know who was in charge of the decision to depredate but she said Brian Lucid was on the Community Services District and interested in learning about options.

The appropriately named Brian Lucid is a native San Franciscan and 20-year veteran who served in Iraq before running for a seat on the board. When he actually contacted ME yesterday I was starting to get a little hopeful.

He told me about their concerns and talked about beavers blocking the water and nibbling neighbor’s trees. And I told him how Martinez had dealt with similar concerns a decade ago, and how downtown businesses were worried about  flooding, and how we had studied the issue and  decided what to do. I told him about the beaver population rebounding all over the state, and getting new beavers very soon if he gets rid of these ones. And I told him how when we decided to install a flow device and let the beavers stay they kept any other beavers from moving into our creek.

“Flow device?” He asked. “What’s that?”

So I told them about controlling vertical growth of a dam, and protecting culverts, and how 10 years ago there was no one trained in this work in the state and we had to bring in Skip Lisle from Vermont to do it for us. But now, there were several people trained in CA and the whole thing would probably cost about 500 for materials. Worth A Dam could even help with a scholarship. I even sent him a copy of Mike’s DVD.

He  mentioned that he was a backpacker and appreciated wildlife, and was interested to hear about the role beavers play for salmon, steelhead, groundwater recharge, biodiversity, nutrient cycling, and climate change resilience. We talked about the controversy and the resolution, how our creek never went dry when the beavers were here. How beavers were great for teaching children about nature and science and mentioned our annual beaver festival. Then I sent him a big care package of information and said I would be happy to answer questions or connect him with the answers. I also suggested he might talk to Mark Ross or Lara Delaney to get the city’s perspective. He was eager to talk with his general manager, because in his words “it sounded like a no-brainer”.

Heidi Happy!

Not that this means everything’s solved and Mountain House beavers are out of the woods. It’s just a beginning.Lots of obstacles could hinder Mr. Lucid along the way. One swallow doesn’t make a summer, they say.

But summer has never come without at least one somewhere. So it’s a start.

Then I arranged a speaking date with Pinole Rotary who wanted to hear about the Martinez beavers and get the story first hand. Since there are eager beavers in Rodeo they must be on their way to Pinole next – I say not a moment too soon!