Archive for the ‘Beavers elsewhere’ Category

Scientific American Beavers

Posted by heidi08 On July - 26 - 2016ADD COMMENTS

Our friend Nick Bouwes is in the news again, this time in Scientific American.

CaptureHere’s a nice discussion of his work and findings on ’60 second science’ by Jason G. Goldman. You really should stop what you’re doing and listen because it will make much more sense than anything I’m going to write this morning.



Don’t you love it when people are talking about beavers in Scientific American? Better yet, when SA is talking about a subject YOU ALREADY KNOW about. Yes we are cutting edge here at beaver central, scientific institutions with large budgets and research teams are scrambling to keep up.

It occurs to me that there is a trace of Rick Lanman’s influence evident in this article. His intelligent re-examination of historic writing and lore was fairly unheard of in beaver research before our historic prevalence papers. Now even Bridge Creek is talking about Lewis and Clark as a way to understand what was lost when all the water-savers were killed.

Nice work, Rick!

I’m driving back to Auburn tomorrow to give a presentation to the Fish and Game Commission of Placer. It should be mighty interesting to talk to them about what Martinez did and gained  in contrast their own particularly horrific track record. I’m hoping that they’ll at least start thinking about what else they might be losing by killing 7 times more beavers than any county in the state. Wish me luck.


Saving the water-savers

Posted by heidi08 On July - 25 - 2016ADD COMMENTS

Off to the big sky country where beavers are getting some help from the Nature Conservancy.

Volunteers spruce up Tupper’s Lake trail, install beaver deceiver

SEELEY LAKE – A rough trail skirting Tupper’s Lake is becoming a beaten path. The second annual Revive and Thrive event on Sunday drew 40 volunteers and about 200 people celebrating the Clearwater-Blackfoot Project. It’s part of The Nature Conservancy’s $85 million purchase of more than 117,000 acres around Placid Lake and the Gold Creek drainage last year.

For a long time, there were issues with beavers plugging the old culvert, causing water to jump the creek channel and wash out nearby roads. So a new, extended culvert was installed, this one with a water control structure and multiple holes in the culvert.

On Sunday, the volunteers used metal fencing, called calf panels, T-posts and wire to construct a triangle-shaped beaver deceiver surrounding the culvert. Each side is about 14 feet long.

“The idea (with the holes) is the beavers can’t hear the water flowing,” Kloetzel said. “The sound attracts them.”

The hope is that pulling one over on the beavers will raise the lake three feet by this time next year, making it healthier for the cutthroat trout stocked by the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks.

“The idea is to let the beavers live in the lake, but they won’t hurt the roads and the culvert,” Kloetzel said. “It’s an extra security measure. Then if they want to dam, they have to go around the entire surface of the cage.”

The beaver deceiver construction also lent itself to jokes, with one volunteer asking if the beavers had been notified and channeling their response:”Well, I’ll be ‘dam’ed …”

No photos of this ‘beaver deceiver’ though, one has to wonder what it looks like  since the reporter can’t tell the difference between a triangle and a trapazoid. Hmm. Or thinks her readers can’t. No discussion of beaver benefits or how this whole project will save wildlife and habitat in the long run. Never mind. It’s Montana for chrissake. We are DELIGHTED they are trying out some coexistence!

I am reposting this because I just realized you can zoom in by double clicking on the image. This is the perfect tool to showcase our heartstopping brochure from generous artist Amelia Hunter.

And this article took my breath away this morning, and I’m going to share it even though its not about beavers. It is about perseverance and tenacity though. Go read it and feel truly inspired.

Why California’s northern coast doesn’t look like Atlantic City

Let me set the scene first.

In the early 1960s, Pacific Gas & Electric Co. planned and began building a power plant at Bodega Head, one of the most jaw-dropping stretches of coast on the planet.

Meanwhile, developers were mapping plans for a monster residential project just north of Jenner at Sea Ranch, where sheep grazed between coastal bluffs and stunning pebble beaches.

“It began with Bodega Head,” Lucy said of the site of the proposed power plant. But it was Sea Ranch “that really got Bill stirred up.”

The Kortum posse set up ironing boards outside grocery stores, spread out their materials and made their case.

I’m not kidding. Go read this and realize how awesome a battle this was/is. Beavers are child’s play by comparison.

Beaver Retreat

Posted by heidi08 On July - 24 - 2016ADD COMMENTS

You may remember that Idaho has a fairly complicated relationship to beavers. In the fifties they thought they were valuable enough to fling them from airplanes and hope they’d land, crawl to water and start a nice pond. Or not.

Mostly they like to trap them. They fur trap a whopping number of beavers. It’s one of the states where recreational trapping is more common than depredation. But Idaho Fish and Game has been getting some pressure from Mike Settell and our friends at Watershed Guardians. Who keep pointing out the MANY valuable things beaver could be doing if they were allowed to live.

Either Fish and Game listened or they figure this will work in their favor in the long run.


Saving beavers – Earthfire Institute joins beaver relocation project

Rehabilitating wild animals is a natural extension of Earthfire’s activities. Our infrastructure, know-how and interest in the well being of wild animals led us to rehabilitate two orphaned moose babies in 2013. It became a successful community project, completed in close cooperation with Idaho Fish and Game. Now another rehabilitation/relocation project is underway, this time with beavers.

In April of 2016 Idaho Fish and Game asked Earthfire if we were interested in providing a temporary holding pen for trapped beavers. We would be part of a coordinated initiative offering relocation services as an alternative to the kill permits issued when landowners request beavers to be removed from their properties. By accepting this project Earthfire became an integral part of the Upper Snake River Beaver Coop and their mission: “.. to recognize that beavers are great eco-engineers and a great asset when dealing with climate change and declining stream flows.” Earthfire is cooperating with representatives from the Forest Service, BLM, The Nature Conservancy and Idaho Fish & Game. The four goals of the Coop are:

Better understand beaver populations in the watershed. Determine the status of their habitat. Selectively relocate beaver to select sites to improve downstream storage. They can help us store water in the upper watershed for slow release during the summer rather than all at once

Provide information and support landowners

The Coop is responsible for trapping, penning and relocating beavers in the Upper Snake River region. Earthfire’s primary role will be to keep the beavers fed, healthy and safe until relocation. They will be trapped one by one until they can be relocated as a family. Because of strong family ties, beavers do not do well alone and often succumb to stress diseases.

Earthfire’s staff has completed a beaver trapping class organized by Idaho Fish and Game so we can assist the Coop in all phases of the relocation.

To build the holding pen Earthfire established a $7,000 budget and excavated a 70’ x 40’ area with running water on the 40 Acre Earthfire property. The excavated area was then covered with felt underliner before installing the pond liner, another layer of protective liner and 8” of round rock. The fence around the pond was dug down 1 foot and cemented to the ground to prevent beavers from digging out. As an extra precaution hotwire was added to prevent the beavers from climbing or getting close to the fence. Two dens were installed because not all beavers get along. The dens can be closed in order to trap the beavers for relocation.

Um, yeah?

I was a little more excited about the prospect before I saw this video. Earthfire is primarily and retreat destination with injured animals that can never be released. They create ‘new’ connections between humans and the injured wildlife for reasons best understood only by them. Watch for yourself:

No word on how that whole habituation thing will be avoided with these wild beavers in transit. I guess it’s rather similar to the parachute escapade, either it will work or it won’t but in the meantime they get rid of some beavers. I did look up a bit about the beaver Coop of the upper snake river. (Okay, I admit, I first read that “coop” like chicken coop. But I’m pretty sure its co-op.)  The whole thing is kinda secretive –  I can find some partners of theirs but no one who actually takes credit for the project. This may explains why they’re keeping a low profile. Note they are selling both the fur and the castor – to use as a lure in traps.


Well we surely wish those beavers and their champions the best of luck.

Fortune Favors the Fish

Posted by heidi08 On July - 23 - 2016Comments Off on Fortune Favors the Fish

Leave it to beavers: Live cameras offer glimpse into nature

The beaver dam live feed has gotten 10,625 views this year with people viewing from as far away as Poland, Saudi Arabia and Kazakhstan. The average viewer watches the feed for nearly 10 minutes.

The U.S. Forest Service has run the camera from the Mendenhall Glacier Visitors Center since 1995 and began live-streaming in 2009, according to Natural Resource Specialist Peter Schneider, who runs the feed.


Because of bandwidth limitations, the Forest Service can only stream one camera at a time; they switched their feed from the beaver den to an in-river sockeye feed Thursday.

That’s right, it doesn’t matter if folks were watching from Kazakhstan, because SALMON! SALMON! SALMON! Those beavers will just have to get out of the way and let the real stars have stage time.

And speaking of a Forest Service who’s willing to push beaver aside to save the ‘widdle fishy’, check out this story from Colorado.

Forest Service seeks public’s input on Fryingpan trout restoration plan

The U.S. Forest Service is eyeing an ambitious seven-year plan to restore native cutthroat trout to the upper Fryingpan River watershed and eradicate whirling disease, and the agency wants public input on the endeavor. In a lengthy statement released Friday details the Aspen-Sopris Ranger District’s plan, which includes constructing stream barriers and a 20-acre reservoir; the use of a “fish toxicant”; construction of a quarter-mile, temporary road; and possibly using explosives to remove beaver dams.

“Native cutthroat trout are no longer found in most of their historical range due to non-native fish invasion, habitat loss and disease,” the release says. “Recent research has revealed several lineages that were formally unknown in Colorado, including a lineage of Colorado River cutthroat trout native to the Roaring Fork watershed.”

The portion of the plan “to assure a complete eradication of non-native trout and whirling disease” would involve the administration of the chemical Rotenone by Colorado Parks and Wildlife. Rotenone is an organic plant-derived pesticide and is the most commonly used fish toxicant in the nation, the statement says.

“Once complete elimination of trout from the entire watershed above the barriers is confirmed through sampling, the stream would need to remain fishless until it is confirmed that [whirling disease] has been eliminated from the system,” it says.

The second phase would include trapping beaver families or colonies and relocating them in Little Lime Creek “to the extent practical.”

Because you know how bad beaver dams are for trout. And how good pesticides are for them. I mean why shouldn’t the federal government spend our tax dollars poisoning fish and terrorizing beavers on the off chance that it will let them eliminate ‘whirling disease’ which was probably triggered as a response to some pesticide anyway? Makes perfect sense to me.

We’ll be planting trees this evening with some children and Suzi Eszterhas as part of a photo needed for the Ranger Rick article. (Of course it’s the worst possible time of year to plant trees, but Jon will probably rescue them afterwards and save them in the garden until winter rolls around again.)

Our friend at the Jeff Arnhorn nursery of Livermore chose some wonderful specimens and even delivered them himself. When he dropped them off he saw Mario’s Mural and was very curious because Mario happens to be doing construction work for his mother! (Mario told us earlier that painting doesn’t pay the bills and has to do construction as well.)

Is there a smaller world than the beaver world? I do not think so.


You will Thoreau-ly enjoy this story, I’m sure!

Posted by heidi08 On July - 22 - 2016Comments Off on You will Thoreau-ly enjoy this story, I’m sure!

Yesterday was puppet day, and we got a lovely load of wildlife puppets from generous Folkmanis for the silent auction. Also the brochures are back from the printer and look lovely. We saved some money by trying out a new printer and are pretty happy with the results. Now there’s more good news, this time from Mike Callahan and Thoreau!

It’s nature vs. Thoreau at Fairyland Pond in Concord

There weren’t many beavers around back in Henry David Thoreau’s day. To the dismay of the great naturalist, though society proclaimed admiration for these brilliant and industrious creatures, beavers had been all but exterminated locally, for their luxurious pelts.

But bAR-160729572.jpg&MaxW=650eavers are back in Concord now, and their wonderful intelligence has put one specific beaver in direct conflict with Thoreau himself, or at least, with one of Henry David’s favorite spots.

hdtThe problem is, the stream being dammed is fed by Brister’s Spring, which is really just a trickle of water seeping out of the rocks of Brister’s Hill (part of Walden Woods. Some of that water, it is believed, originally seeped into the rocks from nearby Walden Pond itself.) The spring creates a little wetland and tiny stream that runs a few hundred yards and through a pipe under a trail in the town forest and then into the Fairyland Pond. The beaver built its dam just as the stream enters the pond, so when the water backs up, and it has already started to, it will flood the trail, the wetland, and Brister’s Spring. Anybody who’s walked around Fairyland Pond in the past few weeks knows that the trail is already flooded. The wetland and Brister’s Spring are next.

Luckily they are on good terms with Mike Callahan who’s coming out to help them meet this particular beaver challenge.

EP-160729572.jpg&MaxW=650&MaxH=650The third option is, fortunately, what the town’s Natural Resources Department is considering; running a narrow pipe at the bottom of the stream, entirely underwater, and literally through a hole drilled in the base of the beaver dam, so the water flows from the Brister’s Spring through the wetland, into the pipe at the bottom of the stream, through the dam, and finally into Fairyland Pond, without making any noise. That’s the key. The diverter lets the water flow through the underwater pipe silently. The noise of rushing water is like a “BUILD DAM HERE!” sign to beavers. It’s what attracts them in the first place.

That proposal comes from Mike Callahan of Beaver Solutions, Inc., who has helped Concord (and communities throughout southern New England) humanely resolve beaver/human conflicts for years. He built the diversion system at the open end of Fairyland Pond, where it drains, when another beaver started to dam that a few years ago, and has also installed “beaver deceivers” at Punkatasset Pond.

“I love doing this work,” Callahan said. “It’s humane. It allows the animal stay around, at least until its food supply runs out, and it preserves a lot of the beneficial aspects of their work for the environment.”

Fantastic! We here at beaver LOVE to read stories like this! Congratulations to Mike for using his good work to win over the local DNR, and congratulations to that young beaver who as crafted an expert pond in historic real estate. I’m sure Mr. Thoreau would be impressed! (But white pants to fix a beaver mud problem? Really?)

Speaking of impressed, I received a note from the Coyote Brush Visitors wednesday who stayed a little while after we left and happened to film this. Two beavers. Mom in the foreground and littler Dad on the right. Together again apparently!

Farming Friends and Beavers

Posted by heidi08 On July - 19 - 2016Comments Off on Farming Friends and Beavers

Oh the farmer and the beaver should be friends,
Oh the farmer and the beaver should be friends,
The beaver likes to build his dams
The farmer plants his corn and yams
But that’s no reason why they can’t be friends.

You know I already did a complete rendition of this song for the salmon in 2011, but I guess the beavers have lots of friends, (and don’t it’s not my fault if dam just naturally rhymes with yam, okay?)




Pond and Slower Streams created by Beaver Serve as Nitrogen Sinks

Beavers, once valued for their fur, may soon have more appreciation in the Northeastern United States. There they are helping prevent harmful levels of nitrogen from reaching the area’s vulnerable estuaries. By creating ponds that slow down the movement of water, they aid in removing nitrogen from the water.

Arthur Gold at the University of Rhode Island, along with his colleagues, studies how the presence of beavers affects nitrogen levels in these waters. “What motivated us initially to study this process was that we were aware of the fact that beaver ponds were increasing across the Northeast,” he said. “We observed in our other studies on nitrogen movement that when a beaver pond was upstream, it would confound our results.

Those darn confounding beavers, ruining Suzanne Fouty’s drought research and Glynnis Hood’s nine year study with their crafty, research ruining ways. Just look at our beavers in Martinez! Confounding their memorial by continuing to exist!

The researchers realized the water retention time and organic matter build up within beavers’ ponds lead to the creation of ideal conditions for nitrogen removal. They then wanted to see how effectively they can do this. The researchers tested the transformative power of the soil by taking sample cores and adding nitrogen to them. These samples, about the size of a large soda bottle, were large enough to incorporate the factors that generate chemical and biological processes that take place in the much larger pond. They were also small enough to be replicated, manageable and measured for numerous changes. Researchers then added a special type of nitrogen to the samples that allowed them to be able to tell if the nitrogen was transformed and how.

Bacteria in the organic matter and soil were able to transform nitrogen, specifically as nitrate, into nitrogen gas, removing it from the system. Thanks to the conditions brought about by the beaver ponds, this process can remove approximately 5-45% of the nitrogen in the water, depending on the pond and amount of nitrogen present.

“I think what was impressive to us was that the rates were so high,” Gold explained. “They were high enough and beavers are becoming common enough, so that when we started to scale up we realized that the ponds can make a notable difference in the amount of nitrate that flows from our streams to our estuaries.

Ahh those rascally beavers, fixing our nitrogen problems and saving our salmon. I’m sure farmers will be rushing to lay down their dynamite and welcome these flat-tailed eco-heroes, right? I won’t hold my breath. It takes a lot of effort on all sides to change hearts and minds about beavers – which we learned first hand in Martinez.

Speaking of which, the drama was apparently a big enough deal (even in Washington) that I’m allowed officially to say it will be recognized by our Congressman at the beaver festival with an award and visit, and some discussing of the slim possibility of adding the Martinez Beavers to the congressional record.

No really.


The Importance of being Ernst

Posted by heidi08 On July - 17 - 2016Comments Off on The Importance of being Ernst

Sometimes even the back of the class earns a gold star. The Ernst trail  in Meadville PA lies in the upper left hand corner of the state near Ohio. Neither state has been particularly progressive on beaver management issues in the past, so I was thrilled to see this. Remember the trapper who said he was only going to take the ‘soldier beavers’?

ON THE ERNST TRAIL: Importance of beaver pond outweighs potential flooding

In the spring of 2015 the water, in the wetland, just south of Bean’s, on the west side of the Ernst Trail, began to rise precipitously up toward the trail. The water was also rising on the east side of the trail. We were concerned that the water might flow over the trail and perhaps damage the trail surface.

A short investigation revealed that beavers had dammed up the two culverts that drain from the west side of the trail to the east side and that there were many small dams on the east side as well. The board of directors decided to act.

In the course of trying to figure out what to do I visited the trail one June day last year at lunch with Pennsylvania Game Commission Wildlife Conservation Officer Mark Allegro. He was busy with nuisance bear complaints and only had time at lunch to consider our beaver problem. Mark pointed out that there weren’t any good options; our best hope was to wait for trapping season and get a trapper to trap the beavers

Since it was a nice noon-time, many people were on the trail, several of them recognized Mark, who was in uniform, and commented on wildlife they had seen along the trail. One person pointed out a huge snapping turtle on a log in the beaver pond, about 30 feet from the trail. Another showed me a couple of snakes alongside the trail that I had walked right by. Others noted birds they had seen, signs of beaver activity and so on. Our beaver pond was generating quite a bit of interest for trail users.

To better understand what a beaver pond had to offer, I talked to Scott Wissinger, an ecology professor at Allegheny College. Here’s what he said: “Because beaver ponds create so many different types of sub habitats of different shallow depths, flow regimes, plant communities and invertebrate communities, they are considered hot beds of biological diversity. Even if people don’t really care about invertebrate and plant diversity, they might care because the invertebrates and plants (especially their seeds) are magnets for charismatic animals that people do care about — fish, waterfowl, songbirds, amphibians and reptiles.”

With all this life attracted to the beaver pond, our board of directors decided to let the beavers alone. We’ll take our chances on the flooding.

Yes, if you need advice on trapping, go to the Game Warden, but if you need advice on BEAVERS go to college. I’m so hopeful about this article and will be working hard to get in touch with the author so he can see how to prevent flooding AND keep beavers. I can’t tell you how impressed I am that the people on the trail got you thinking about the enormous impact a beaver pond has on wildlife. And so glad that you listened, and kept asking questions because that isn’t easy to do when a man in a uniform tells you to give up.

Shout out to Janet Thew who posted on FB about the beaver totem skins offered by Decalgal. Of course I wrote her WRITE AWAY and she said she’d be delighted to donate to the silent auction. How much do you love this?

Final gift from Moses Silva filmed at the noisy crane work station by the beaver home. I guess not everyone is intimidated by progress.