Because the beaver isn't just an animal; it's an ecosystem!

The Martinez Beavers

Category: Beavers elsewhere


Meanwhile in New York folks haven’t updated their attitudes about beavers or learned these new-fangled ideas on wrapping trees. They are sure that the only way to keep beavers from eating the trees at their scrubby little ‘park and ride’ is to bring in this gentleman,

Officials to trap beavers in Monroe Park.

MONROE – The beavers have been very busy, indeed, in the woods and pond at Mombasha Park. Between the trees that surround the pond are stump after stump after stump, each about 18 inches high and sheared at a 45 degree angle, as though by a hatchet.

Each is testimony to the nocturnal gnawing of beavers, who have been mowing down poplars and birches to fulfill their three missions: food, home and dam. Industrious and strong, these buck-toothed rodents weigh as much as a pit bull or a small goat, and can drag fallen timber through woods or paddle it across water to their lodges.

A natural marvel, yes. But also an occasional and persistent nuisance for humans.

One concern for Monroe Supervisor Tony Cardone about the tree clearing at Mombasha Park was the sharpened stumps scattered through the woods – a potential safety hazard, he said, for people who wander off the walking trail that wends through the park.

But he also feared that the systematic removal of trees from the berm behind the park’s ball field ultimately would undermine the berm and the field itself.

The Monroe Town Board voted last week to enlist the services of licensed outdoorsman David Corrado, who had offered to trap some of Mombasha’s Park’s beavers at no charge to manage a growing population and limit the tree toll.

He is expected to set lethal traps near the active beaver lodge soon, in the midst of New York’s beaver trapping season and while the park is closed for the winter.

Corrado, on a recent walk through the park with Cardone and a reporter, pointed with a ruler to the many scattered stumps, inconspicuous at first but then obvious when your eyes drop to knee level

Do you detect a tone in that last paragraph?  Pointing beaver chews out with a ruler is a carefully written observation. I get the distinct feeling that this reporter thinks Corrado is a pratt. Don’t you?

Or maybe that’s just me. For the life of me I cannot understand why the city of Monroe, just 150 miles from Beavers:Wetlands and Wildlife can’t figure out how to put wire around a tree or pick up a paint brush. But what do I know?

Mostly I’m just busy thinking about the beaver festival. I was playing around with this idea yesterday for a new shirt, What do you think?


There are beaver heroes in every corner of the state, and our friends at the Sierra Wildlife Coalition are a shining example. I remember the very first beaver festival they joined way back I was so impressed that they decorated their booth with chews and a sand paint demonstration. Since damage to trees is the NUMBER ONE REASON folks for trapping, teaching people about this tree-saving tool is essential.

“We just sand-painted about 50 cottonwoods today in Washoe Lake State Park in Nevada (between Reno and Carson City). Toogee was alerted about beavers chewing there, talked to State Parks (who were going to use chicken wire… I know) and they were all into it, bought paint and sand and buckets and rounded up 8 volunteers to help! It will be on the late news 9after Olympics) but already on the KRNV website 🙂

Volunteers Use “Sand Paint” to Stop Beavers from Gnawing on Trees at Washoe Lake

 

About a dozen volunteers gathered at Washoe Lake State Park Saturday morning to ‘paint’ the trees along Washoe Lake. The paint was a mixture consisting of latex paint and sand, and it’s supposed to prevent beavers from gnawing on the trees.

Park supervisor, Jen Dawson, said this was necessary because beavers have damaged 60 trees from chewing on them.

Wonderful work by some wonderful beaver friends! If you had been doing this as long as I have you would remember that this whole advocacy group began in response to beavers killed in Kings Beach, right next to an daycare that had been following the family. Sherri, Ted and friends met with countless officials and neighbors trying to push this issue to a better direction for next time. They even asked our own Lory Bruno to come to a meeting and talk about what Martinez did once upon a time.

(It is so heartening to see their work and Sherry marching on after Ted’s death last year.  It is always the wrong people that die from cancer. But you knew that.)

We checked on our own little beaver dam yesterday which is looking quite healthy. A phoebe was sitting on it to capture flies and a squirrel used it as a bridge just before Jon snapped this photo – the framing of which I particularly like.


One of the things we have struggled to do here in Martinez is make our beavers more accessible, less misunderstood, and part of the community. The lion’s share of that work was done by the beavers themselves, who chose downtown for their home and lived fairly public lives showing off their habits and preferences. They were the original “Beaver ambassadors” and we just took our cue from them. We explained to people what they did and what they were seeing and doing our best to make the city not kill them.

Steven Murschel of West Linn Oregon takes it one step farther. I can’t believe this article slipped past me nearly 3 weeks ago, but I’m so glad it was brought to my attention now.

WL ‘Beaver Ambassadors’ group sheds light on misunderstood animal

It was at that point that the West Linn Beaver Ambassadors group was born. For almost a year now, Murschel and others have led activities with schools, organizations and groups of volunteers in an effort to “increase awareness for the community about the beavers that live in West Linn and why this species is so important to the natural ecosystem.” Most recently, on Jan. 11, Murschel led educational workshops with two classrooms at Willamette Primary.

“I work with schools a lot,” Murschel said. “And I’m doing a lot of community events so that the community is more aware of the beaver population and the incredible benefits beavers can provide”

West Linn’s beavers — which have made homes at Mary S. Young Park as well as the Willamette, Robinwood and Fields Bridge parks — are behaviorally nocturnal and thus rarely seen out in the open. But their handiwork is abundant, and it takes just a short walk along the paths at Mary S. Young Park to see several beaver-made ponds sheltered by dams and surrounded by trees that have been caged to prevent further gnawing.

Steven takes his work serious and is making a serious difference. I can’t even imagine what it would be like for EBRP, for example, to have a beaver educator on board to educate folks in every park about the animal. Steven came to the festival last year and will be an exhibitor at the event this year. (If you needed further proof about the role the story of Martinez played in his work check out the photo in the presentation he is giving to that classroom. It might look familiar.)

Very short beavers in WL?

“When they build the dam, the creek flowing through gets stocked up,” Murschel said. “Instead of a creek, you have a pond, and a pond is an excellent drinking source, so it will bring larger mammals for drinking. It’s a home for reptiles and amphibians and also for insects and smaller bugs — macroinvertebrates.

“When the smaller things start to come as a result of the slow of flow, then everything that eats those things comes, and everything that eats those things comes.”

In rainy Oregon, beavers also do their part to prevent flooding, according to Murschel. He compared beaver dams to the man-made bioswales and rain gardens that have become popular solutions for water runoff.

“People tend to think beavers cause a lot of flooding,” he said. “Flooding problems definitely happen, but in a bigger sense they’re holding back more water; they’re containing more water.”

Steven  gets pretty excited about his work with kids, teaching them why beavers matter. He’s happy to share his ideas and is ready to learn from everyone. This is what it says about us on his website. Sometimes I like to imagine what it would be liked if he worked for Martinez and was hired to manage their beaver ambassador program. Then I break out into a hysteric fit of giggles and have to lie down.

“What we’re really trying to do is bring a lot of awareness to the fact that beavers are back, and we have these rare opportunities in some of our parks to showcase what they do,” Worcester said. “People — especially kids — are really interested … and we’re doing more outreach and some nighttime programs to kind of see beavers in different parks.”

I”I want to build in some mechanisms to have it continue in perpetuity,” he said. “And how you do this is certainly a challenge. But the website and all of the social media will certainly be there, so maybe they can continue to have interns work on it at a lower capacity.

“What they’ll definitely get out of it are management plans for this site and a couple of other sites in the city where beavers have impacted massively — that will be incredibly helpful to the city.”

Yes it will. And it’s incredibly helpful to every city to see what you’re doing and remember what’s possible. Steven is making such a difference in the lives of so many people and beavers I’m so glad that he was received the credit he deserves with this excellent article.

Martinez is looking forward to learning from you in June!

 


I’m suddenly feeling like an old retired ballerina watching my protege take the stage. I have to be honest, it does feel a little wistful – that used to be my life kinda thing – but man-o-man it mostly feels WONDERFUL!

Beavers an education for residents, city

A new beaver management plan could yet turn Port Moody into a paradise for the resourceful rodents.

But it will have to respect the science about the animals’ habits and lifestyle while finding a balance within urban environments where they’re settling.

Judy Taylor-Atkinson and Jim Atkinson look out over the beaver pond on Pigeon Creek that was created by a family of industrious beavers that moved into the area in 2016.

That’s the best-case scenario, according to a pair of local advocates for fur-bearing animals, Judy Taylor-Atkinson and husband Jim Atkinson.

They were observers when a beaver pair made Pigeon Creek, in their Klahanie neighbourhood, home in 2016 and then became a family of four last summer. And they shared the community’s anguish when one of the young kits drowned in December as city crews attempted to trap and evict it from a den the beavers had constructed in a storm pipe that drains rainwater and prevents flooding.

Ahh how glorious! I’m beside myself with glee. And should our mayor be too to think that Judy and Jim are driving from B.C. to Martinez to attend our beaver festival! I’m told they already made their reservations;

Taylor-Atkinson has been studying the science of beavers and their management for years while her husband helps install flow regulators into dams to diminish the chances of damaging floods. Both are on the board of the Association for the Protection of Fur-Bearing Animals (The Fur-Bearers).

Beavers are notoriously nocturnal, Taylor-Atkinson said, but once they settled into their new home in the stream that runs amidst low-rise condo buildings, they grew accustomed to the human hustle and bustle around them. A curiosity quickly became a real life neighbourhood nature show.

While nearby trees that had been planted by the developer were wrapped to protect them from the beavers’ toothy toil, the natural habitat along the creek’s banks was left alone and the beavers’ activities respected. One neighbour even attached a log book in a plastic sleeve on the bridge railing so visitors could note their observations.

Taylor-Atkinson said the transformation of the creek to a beaver ecosystem was remarkable. The still water attracted bugs like dragonflies to alight, which attracted birds and bats and salamanders to eat them. The cool, sheltered eddies created by fallen limbs and branches in the water were perfect resting places for salmon fingerlings, which attracted ducks and even a juvenile heron to make the occasional visit for a snack. The dam filtered sediment, clearing the water and pushing it into the creek’s banks, encouraging new growth like bullrushes to take root.

“They were repairing the habitat,” Taylor-Atkinson said, adding beavers are considered a “keystone species” around which an entire ecosystem revolves — a marked contrast to old-school thinking that beavers and their industrious ways are a nuisance, especially in urban environments.

Those two paragraphs! SNIFF! I’m sooooooo proud. To think of how many people will be inspired by this story and think maybe they can maybe do something just a little bit different in their own city when the time comes! Ahhhh, Go read the whole thing and send it to your cousins. I’m going to bask in the thought that Martinez own hard fought story made this just a little easier to happen. And their story will make it that much easier for the next one.

“When this creek was built, nobody knew they were creating an ideal beaver habitat.”

Keeping it that way will be a matter of education and good science, she said — and a legacy for the young beaver that perished.

“We didn’t lose that kit for nothing.”

No you did not. That unfortunate kit played a crucial role in his entire families story. And his cousins. And extended family. And in ours. Thank you so much, Judy and Jim.

Just one question. Do you think they make everyone wear jackets that match the sign all the time? Or just for photo shoots?


On Saturday when author Frances Backhouse did a wonderful podcast for beavers on “Roughly Speaking” she said that the arguments for beavers were becoming more prevalent and that the change was happening “At the same pace” as the arguments against them. Remember? I later told her I loved the program but didn’t agree that the two sides were neck and neck. Since I reported about the issue every day I thought I had some perspective – we weren’t there yet, but that I would be very happy when we got there.

She said that she had seen a change since she wrote her book and thought things were looking better for beavers almost everywhere. I said I wished that were true but that I didn’t think I should retire just yet.

Here are just a few reasons why.

Don’t leave it to beaver: County, state provide help when critters’ dams cause problems

While the clever animals can produce significant environmental benefits, they can also create safety hazards and cause damage to roads, bridges and people’s properties.

But there’s a program that’s offered at a minimal cost to help landowners in alleviating beaver damage and preventing further damage to their properties. Wilson County has been a part of the state’s Beaver Management Assistance Program, which is operated by the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, for two decades.

Wilson County pays $4,000 per year to be a member of the state program and the Wilson Soil and Water Conservation District is the point of contact for the program. After landowners apply for the program, a wildlife specialist will contact them.

The first visit is free and wildlife specialists will discuss with the landowner the positive and negative effects of the beaver. They will also work with owners to formulate a a strategic plan, which can include trapping the beaver. The cost for the landowner is only $25 per visit after the first initial assessment.

Oh is that all? For the cost of dinner at the local olive garden you can get a federal agent out to kill all the beavers on yer property. Who wouldn’t jump at the chance?

Alaska teen gets winter’s adventure in pursuit of the trapping experience

LAKE MINCHUMINA, Alaska — I have to confess to feeling a bit skeptical about beaver trapping in mid-winter.

“It’s a lot of work,” I warned my almost-13-year-old niece. Usually, my sister Julie and I get too busy checking fish nets and running a days-long marten trapline to invest time in pursuing the big rodents.

Karen wanted to go anyway.

 “We only have a few days,” I reminded her. This was a Sunday, and her flight back to Fairbanks departed Thursday. “Once set, we’re committed to checking them every other day and have maybe a 50 percent chance of catching something.”

Karen wanted to go anyway.

She wanted to sample the succulent flavor of beaver meat, roast the tail and maybe keep the skin (or not, since, I declared, if she wanted the pelt she’d have to do the skinning).

Well isn’t that touching. A niece learning the trapping trade from her uncle at such a tender age. Who wouldn’t love the chance to go kill a beaver with their favorite uncle? I’m reminded of a young Anne of Green Gables.

Wis. 19-year-old is quickly gaining experience and having success in his trapping

Rankila, a 19-year-old from Lake Nebagamon, really hoped to find a beaver in an under-the-ice trap he placed in this pond. But his first priority was to not plunge through any weak ice into the frigid water below.

“The appeal is knowing you have active sets out there 24-7,” Rankila said. “It’s just a matter of whether that animal comes by. You hope you can trick him.”

That’s what Rankila likes about trapping.

I won’t post the video of the young sociopath bragging about his craft. But if you doubt me follow the link to the article and hear him spew.  The article interviews his father and the older trappers he has learned from, brightly proclaiming his future. I’m sure they’re right and he’ll be VERY good at trapping.

I doubt he’ll ever be as good about selling a lie about trapping as this fellow though. He’s really something special.

Increased protection of wolves/coyotes increases danger to pets, livestock, wildlife

“Algonquin wolves must receive the full protection of the law if this threatened species is to have a chance of recovery,” says the report of the environmental commissioner of Ontario who is recommending a prohibition on hunting and trapping of wolves and coyotes in all areas where the wolf could be roaming.

“The government banned hunting in forty-one townships around Algonquin Park in 2016,” said Ray Gall, vice president of the central region of the Ontario Fur Managers. “Now they want to expand that to cover most of the province.”

“The endangered species act, in my opinion, has become weaponized by protectionist groups,” said Gall, who says the proposal will ban hunting or trapping of the wolves in a 40,000 square kilometre area.

He says one of the concerns for trappers is the wolves’ predilection for beaver meat.

You hear that? The aptly named Mr. Gall is worried that those wildlife-nazis will save so many wolves that the greedy bastards will eat up all the beavers.

Beaver trapping quotas have already dropped by 30 per cent, a result of the decline in the number of the animals being caught.

“Everyone thinks that wolves predominantly eat deer and moose, which they can catch easier in the winter snows, but during the summertime, they mostly eat smaller animals and they eat a lot of beaver,” Gall said.

“Without the beaver we end up with dry hay marshes, not fit to feed any wildlife, and the other things that are going to suffer as a result of a decline in beaver ponds and wetlands are the already endangered species like salamanders and turtles, as well as the moose and deer. That’s one of my big issues.”

Oh PUL-EEZE. Spare me your concern for the decline of beaver ponds. I’ve never heard you comment on their importance when its time to trap beaver. We all know that when the market demands you trap beaver you trap beaver. And when the government lets you trap wolves you’ll trap wolves. The very idea that Mr. Gall objects to letting wolves live because they EAT all those important beavers before they can offer their valuable ecosystem services is beyond ridiculous.

Is Ray Gall’s middle name “UNMITIGATED” by any chance?

When I think about it though, I guess the idea that a trapper is using information about beavers as a keystone species as an excuse to kill more wolves kind of backs Frances point. It’s in the public lexicon. The ecological benefits are so well known that the vice president of the trappers association will use it to LIE about killing something else.

I guess that’s a kind of progress.