Archive for the ‘Beavers elsewhere’ Category

This just in: Swamps teaming with life! Who knew?

Posted by heidi08 On April - 30 - 2016ADD COMMENTS

Apart from everyone who’d ever been outside, ever, I mean. Still it’s nice to read some appreciation even if no one understand who to thank.

Dave Wolf: Wetlands are a draw for various wildlife

When I was a young man, we called them swamps.  It’s where cottontails often headed when being chased by our beagles. Years later when I moved to Potter County, they continued to be referred to as swamps. However, when I worked with the Planning Commission on zoning projects, the word “wetlands” came into play.

More new words followed, such as flood zones and flood insurance, after a few horrendous hurricanes. Today, planners struggle to keep buildings off of those old swamps. Both commercial and private housing developments are brought before planners, and unfortunately those swamps are filled in with rock and dirt.

As we learn more about wetlands, we realize they are extremely beneficial to both man and wildlife. Wetlands act as a sponge, and filter out all those impurities that would flow into our streams, rivers, bays and beyond.

But wildlife thrives in what we would consider harsh environments. I had my best day of photography in years when I visited a nearby “swamp.” In four hours, I photographed a female mallard and her ducklings, Canada geese parents and their young, a half dozen wood duck pairs, green and blue winged teal, and a good number of great egrets.

I was smiling from ear to ear, thinking, what else could I possibly see? I missed getting a good shot of a muskrat that swam by, but I spotted something in the reeds across from me. I was totally shocked to see one huge beaver! To make matters better, I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw a young beaver swimming toward me. Now, I was nearly trembling.

Now you can guess exactly what I was thinking when I saw this photo, and it starts with an ‘m’ and ends with a ‘t’. I wrote Dave this morning about my thoughts and he wrote back ASSURING me that it was a beaver, and when I pressed said that he got a look at the tail.  I remain censorious. My doubts can be summed up with three points.

  1. face looks little like and pinched like a muskrat
  2. fur is sooo dark and wet. Beaver fur is better groomed and almost always dryer,
  3. The bottom of this animal rides low in water.

Also this article is from Harrisburg PA and it is wayyyy to early for that region to have young beaver.  It is wayy to early for US to have a young beaver, but what do I know? We are still VERY HAPPY that he takes joy in a wetland and appreciates the wildlife it holds. For those of you wanting a refresher course on telling beaver and muskrat apart, here’s the beginners and the advanced course.

Here’s something very exciting jon photographed yesterday morning. This is far down stream, almost to the train bridge. I’m absolutely certain its not a muskrat making this:


New website and old complaints

Posted by heidi08 On April - 29 - 20161 COMMENT

From the ridiculous to the sublime. Let’s start the day with the appropriate mocking of Mr.  Settlemeyer of Bladen County North Carolina. And believe me, his complaint is a doozy.

Carver’s Creek running over with beavers

Settlemeyer said when he first saw beavers on his land back in the 1970’s he thought the critters were kind of cool. “The first time I saw a beaver I said, ‘Oh man this is wonderful, we got beavers!’” Settlemeyer said.

But that opinion quickly changed when he said the rodents took over. In fact, Settlemeyer said if he were to guess he’d say there are about 200 of them on his property. “It’s good for the ducks, good for the turtles, but it’s not good for your timber,” Settlemeyer said.

He said some of his roads have been washed away because beaver dams prevent water from flowing the way it naturally would. He said there is little he can do to stop them.

“Back before 9/11 we could go buy dynamite. We dynamited the beavers. We’ve got heavy equipment and dug the dams out, we’ve trapped, we’ve shot them, but they’re so prolific we’re not gaining any ground,” Settlemeyer said. “It’s an aggravating problem. They’re like fire ants and coyotes, they’re here to stay. I don’t know what kind of alternative we have.”

He said almost every stream in the Carver’s Creek community has a beaver dam in it and it’s causing big changes to the ecology of the area.

Just for clarification, Bladen county is in the lower right corner of the state with 874 sq miles of land and 13 sq miles of water. Even assuming his property runs that entire length of the creek, and allowing 7 beavers to a colony, he is alleging he has  a beaver family every .15 miles of water, which, if it were true, would deserve a federally funded research project and a documentary. It is far more likely that he found 10 dams on is land and just calculated in his folksy way that there were about 20 beavers to a dam, don’t you think?

Love the part where he blames 9/11 for keeping him from blowing them up though. I guess they’re right, every great tragedy still has a silver lining.

On to the sublime. Let’s welcome our friends at Sierra Wildlife Coalition to the beaver website neighborhood! They just launched a very lovely new sight with excellent info and Sheri Hartstein’s fantastic photos. Take them for a test drive and enjoy the view. Click below to visit their site and help them establish some links, but don’t get so dazzled you forget who sent you there. (Remember to notice who is listed as the FIRST resource on their contact page.) Ahem.




The good kind of ‘Waterboard’ Part II

Posted by heidi08 On April - 28 - 2016ADD COMMENTS

waterboardsYesterday was slightly more familiar because I had been to the intimidating downtown state building once before.  Jon did an awesome job of helping me get there and get set up. The new group was dedicated and very interested in the topic. They asked all the right questions and laughed in all the right places. One waterboard member asked me how to relocate beavers to create stream heterogenity in Marin, and I of course told her that was an EXCELLENT goal but at the moment relocation was still illegal in California. One woman said she lived in Concord and wondered what she could do to protect and advocate for any dispersers who showed up there.

Afterwards Tahsa Sturgis, the water control engineer who had invited me, said that the feedback after I left was that this was the best presentation they had in a decade, which made us feel pretty worth a dam, I can tell you!

Onward and onward. How’s the mural coming, you say? Not so wonderfully, but I did find out that the assistant city manager talked the city attorney into a more simple contract on our behalf. Which was VERY nice of him. Apparently being simple and straightforward is very complicated for her and the de-obfuscations are taking her  a while.

Soon, they assure me.

In the meantime we can have fun with a disperser in Colorado who apparently evaded the police and even ESCAPED their cage! I’m thinking this just needs soundtrack and a co star and its a movie. Click on the link for inspiration then come right for the unbelievable tale.

Mission Impossible Theme Song –

Roving beaver near GJHS causes police logjam

Grand Junction police officers spent nearly an hour Wednesday morning in hot pursuit of a beaver.

The roving rodent was spotted in the road near North Seventh Street and Kennedy Avenue — just east of Grand Junction High School — just before 5 a.m., said Heidi Davidson, spokeswoman for the Grand Junction Police Department.

“Said beaver was headed northbound, and was reported to be obeying all traffic laws, but did not yield to officers,” Davidson wrote in an email.

A “beaver catcher” responded to the scene and helped capture the animal — but detention didn’t end the drama, Davidson wrote.

“A courtesy transport for the beaver was arranged, but the beaver was able to escape the cage in the back of the car and had to be recaptured en route,” she wrote. “Ultimately, the beaver was released, without injury, back to the river.”

What kind of cage can a beaver possibly escape you are asking? Was it made of wood? And who was this mysterious beaver catcher? Inquiring minds demand to know. I’m glad the beaver made it to water, and the police got an exciting opportunity to work off all those donuts.

Jack LawsNow here’s a grand interview with beaver friend John Muir Laws. Who talks about the value of sketching in learning to see and remember the world. It seems like ages ago he came to sketch our beavers for Bay Nature, but I remember it as a magical night when I really felt we had ‘arrived’. He enjoyed himself so much the next night he brought his mom, who was in a wheelchair. We watched our ADA beavers joyfully and then went to dinner at Lemongrass Bistro altogether. Ahh, memories!

Busy as a you know what!

Posted by heidi08 On April - 26 - 2016ADD COMMENTS

We are FINALLY paintbrush-ready on the mural project. Mario will come today to start priming, but tomorrow there are supposed to be thunderstorms so more delays are imminent. I’m just happy the city was able to finish all the contracts, waivers and ryders necessary to undertake the dangerous painting of a two foot wall of concrete. Hurray for beavers not giving up!

about timeThe timing works out well enough because on Wednesday I’m back to the SF Waterboard to talk more about urban beavers! New folks heard my talk was so good they wanted it too so I’ll be with strangers on a different floor than last time. I think I’m ready, but it’s a little harrowing going to that tall building and through security on yet another rainy day!

waterboardsAnd it never rains but it pours, because I just got the event flyer for Portland, which looks amazing. The final PDF will have working links and go out soon. But I thought you deserved a preview. In between events I’ll be talking to Kiwanis and watching our Mural unfold. And then it’s time to start getting ready for the festival! Isn’t that exciting?

portland flyer

Willful Ignorance rally

Posted by heidi08 On April - 25 - 2016Comments Off on Willful Ignorance rally

You know that talk, you’ve been putting off with your co-worker or best friend. It needs to happen but the subject is likely to hurt both of you so you’ve been avoiding it. Meanwhile the pressure is building and building around you, and it’s getting harder to avoid comment.

Well, the ‘Saskatchewan derby’ is that talk.

Saskatchewan is considered a ‘prairie province’ in the middle of Canada. It is the size of Texas with the population if Rhode Island, and it is blessed with nearly as much fresh water as Michigan. It also has the beaver IQ of a three-legged pit bull with an eye infection. And this been going on for more years than I can count.

exploding beaverSaskatchewan is the source of sole dark passage in Jari Osborne’s famous beaver documentary. Long ago its outrageous allegations about the ‘exploding beaver population’ inspired one of my favorite early graphics. While Alberta and Ontario have been making real strides in progressive beaver management, it remains as mentally challenged as it can possibly be.   You know those articles you read in National Geographic about tiny tribes in the middle of the amazon that have never seen any part of civilization and don’t know how forks work? Well, every evolutionary stride in beaver management has entirely passed them by. They have only a single tool in their tattered collective box.

And it always looks like a hammer.

Saskatchewan beaver derby sparks fierce debate

It’s the first year for the derby, which runs until May 10. The competition offers cash prizes to hunters or trappers who kill the largest beaver or who come up with the most combined weight in beaver carcasses in 40 days.

The Saskatchewan Trappers Association says the derby helps eliminate bad hunting practices and teaches others how to utilize the entire animal carcass and fur.

It says at this time of year beavers are often killed and left in the field to rot.

“The main thing is that we don’t want to see these animals left in the field of decay and rot without using the entire fur resource,” said spokesman Ken Gartner.

Really? I’m pretty sure that main thing Saskatchewan wants to see is fewer beavers. But if the STA wants to say this ethnic cleansing is to teach hunters to use the entire animal carcass, go ahead.  That’s really the best you could come up with? Not preserving a way of life, or allowing other generations to learn from their fathers about trapping or reducing giardisis in the water or some such bullshit? I’m reminded of a favorite Leslie Knope quote.

Fur-bearer defenders suggests you write a letter to Herb Cox, Minister of Environment (regardless of where you live at I haven’t yet because I’ve been overwhelmed by the enormity of this level of ignorance. I can’t understand why the entire country isn’t humiliated by recurring national and international discussions of these problem-solving black holes and photos like these blasted all over the internet.

Guess who’s insured?

Posted by heidi08 On April - 21 - 2016Comments Off on Guess who’s insured?

And no, that is not the name of an exciting new  game show about driving in LA, it’s a question about OUR MURAL and tw 8 delay days we have endured so far trying to get this thing done. Well, it’s more done, and because its a rider attached to our existing insurance with ISI, it cost us a whopping total of 50.00. I couldn’t be happier.

insuredNow we just have to wait for the very busy city attorney to reissue the contract to include Worth A Dam, THEN have Mario and us sign it, then get “Exhibit E” completed to exempt him from covering employees, THEN turn it all in and get a nod from the raja and THEN start painting!

Believe it or not we are closer to this all happening than we have ever been before. And thank god – because this was starting to feel like planning a second beaver festival.  You know it reminds me of this post from 2014 about the first book I learned to read as a child.

The woman finds a crooked sixpence while sweeping her house and decides to go to the market and buy a pig, but on her way home the new pig won’t go over the stile, (which is a little english wooden platform that allows people on the public footpath to get thru the gate, but keeps livestock from getting out.) It looks like this.

After trying to push and coax him onto it, she goes to a nearby dog in frustration, asking “Dog, dog! Bite the pig! Pig will not jump over the stile and I shall not get home tonight!” But the dog won’t cooperate. Is this ringing a bell yet? You should be hearing it in your head soon. She goes to a stick and says “Stick, stick! Beat the dog. Dog will not bite my pig, pig will not jump over the stile and I shall not get home to night!”

Of course the stick won’t cooperate either, but she keeps asking for help – first for fire to burn the uncooperative stick, then water to put out the vexing fire, then an ox to drink the uncooperating water, then a butcher to kill the stubborn ox, then a rope to hang the difficult butcher, and finally mouse to chew that lazy rope.

The mouse is the only one who’s ready to consider her offer. He asks pragmatically “What’ll you give me if I do?”

Surprised, she reaches in her apron pockets and finds a tiny crust of bread which she lays in front of the mouse. He nibbles appreciatively, then agrees. And after all that asking the mouse begins to gnaw the rope. and the rope begins to hang the butcher, and the butcher begins to kill the ox, and the ox begins to drink the water, and the water begins to put out the fire, and the fire begins to burn the stick, and the stick begins to beat the dog, and the dog begins to bite the pig, and the pig decides to finally go over the stile…

And that little old woman really does make it home that night!

Consider the pig half way up that stile today.

A little project this morning, because I saw a cute scrabble tile design and it gave me an idea. This was fairly easy to adapt for beavers. Now I just need to print it and try it out. I could think of the first four historical books, but couldn’t come up with the fifth. I of course went to Bob Arnebeck’s remarkable beaver page and found as usual, just what I needed. What do you think?beaveryybooks


Those Nobel Prizes are a SMOKESCREEN

Posted by heidi08 On April - 20 - 2016Comments Off on Those Nobel Prizes are a SMOKESCREEN

Beavers Returning to Sweden’s Capital Can Be a Dam Nuisance

Walking along the Swedish capital’s famous shores and canals, you can see its presence in the gnawed trunks of large willows, surrounded by fresh wood chips, and the stumps of damaged trees cut down with chainsaws.

The Eurasian beaver is back.

Though the furry urbanites had an ideal base to explore the city, it took decades for them to get established in Stockholm.

“From the late ’90s to 2011, we didn’t see very [many] beavers … about three or four a year in the whole Stockholm area,” says Tommy Tuvunger, who, as Stockholm’s viltvårdare, or game warden, is tasked with keeping tabs on the city’s wild residents. 

In the last four years, “the population has exploded.” 

But the beaver boom has a negative side: The rodents have done extensive damage to the city’s trees.These teeth-carved trees are a safety risk, especially in a city with so much green space. 

“People are going there with small children, walking dogs, jogging,” Tuvunger says, adding that a gust of wind could bring a weakened tree down on someone.

In addition, there have been two reports of beavers biting people in Stockholm—one of which occurred after a man took a picture of the animal with his phone.

In their efforts to keep the public safe, Tuvunger and his colleagues have shot about 10 beavers over three years. (See “Killing Wildlife: The Pros and Cons of Culling Animals.”)

“Keeping a very low profile, we use silencers, so the public don’t know what were are doing,” he says.

 Surprised GirlThat’s right. Arguably the smartest country on  the entire planet, that takes it upon themselves to hand out awards for the most brilliant scientific minds across the globe, kills beavers for chewing trees with a SILENCER because they can’t possibly discourage chewing by wrapping them and they don’t want to upset the public.

It’s not surprising that Stockholm’s beavers have bounced back, the experts say.

“Beavers are like all rodents—they are really good at reproducing. If they have a good environment and good opportunities, they do well,” Jennersten says.

If the sight of Castor fiber swimming around in central Stockholm is the ultimate proof of success, Hartman is heartened by this latest chapter in its comeback story.

I’m tempted to hate the author of this story very much, but when I read those sentences back to myself it occurs to me that he might be deliberately not getting in the way of the Swedes making themselves look bad. Not because he agrees with them – but because Mr. Owen assumes the public won’t. You know, kind of like that famous Sarah Palin interview.

Anyway, this was an annoying way to start the day, which is already  annoying because of the unecessary mural delays and the first reviews coming back on the urban beaver chapter – one of which edited MY section with a red pen and said it was “Poorly worded“.

Hrmph. Poorly worded!

Lets cheer ourselves with some good news, shall we?

Poplars popular with Seine River beavers

 The beaver is one of the few species on Earth that modifies the environment to suit its needs. Unfortunately, the beaver’s needs sometimes bring them into conflict with people — especially in cities.

Beavers cut down trees for one reason — survival. They use large branches to build dams across streams. This creates a beaver pond, where the water becomes deep enough for the beaver to survive the winter.  They use some branches and mud to build a lodge. The lodge has a central chamber where they are safe from predators.

 Beavers also eat the trees’ inner bark. They stockpile branches in a food cache at the bottom of the pond. While beaver eat many aquatic plants during summer, their main winter food is the inner bark of trees. Their favourites are aspen, poplar, cottonwood, willow, birch and alder. Beaver do not hibernate, so the pond must be deep enough for them to swim from the lodge to their food cache beneath the ice.

My advice to anyone living near the river is to wrap the bases of the trees that you treasure. A few dollars of mesh can protect your $140 tree. Hardware cloth (with a square mesh) is tough enough to deter beavers.

Don’t wrap every tree. Wrap some of the larger trees and newly planted trees of all sizes. Leave the rest for the beavers. After all, the beaver is a Canadian icon.

This year, let’s celebrate the beavers that share our urban rivers. Take pictures of the amazing river engineer that we commemorate on the “tail” of our nickel. Post them on the Save Our Seine Facebook page. Volunteer to wrap some trees or join the SOS team as a 2016 River Keeper (job posting on the SOS Web site).

Did you know that Winnipeg was smarter than Stockholm? Fantastic article and fantastic idea for encouraging folks to appreciate urban beavers. Now a final piece of better news to cheer those of us waiting impatiently for better days. Jon  took these photos yesterday down stream. Sure starting to look familiar isn’t it?

IMG_0862 IMG_0865