Archive for the ‘What’s killing beavers now?’ Category

Beaver teeth carving: Shigir Idol

Posted by heidi08 On June - 17 - 2017ADD COMMENTS

Three times older than the pyramids and twice as old as Stonehenge, the statue was originally dug out of a peat bog by gold miners in the Ural Mountains in 1890. The remarkable seven-faced Idol was carved with a beaver jaw and is now on display in a glass sarcophagus in a museum in Yekaterinburg, Russia.

Beaver’s teeth ‘used to carve the oldest wooden statue in the world’

New scientific findings suggest that images and hieroglyphics on the wooden statue were carved with the jaw of a beaver, its teeth intact. Two years ago German scientists dated the Idolas being 11,000 years old.

At a conference involving international experts held in the city this week, Professor Mikhail Zhilin said the wooden statue, originally 5.3 metres tall, was made of larch, with  the basement and head carved using silicon faceted tools.  ‘The surface was polished with a fine-grained abrasive, after which the ornament was carved with a chisel,’ said the expert. 

‘At least three [sets of teeth]  were used, and they had different blade widths.

The faces were ‘the last to be carved because apart from chisels,  some very interesting tools – made of halves of beaver lower jaws – were used’.

Zhilin, leading researcher of the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Archeology, has spoken previously of his ‘feeling of awe’ when studying the Idol, more than twice as old as the Stonehenge monuments in England.

‘This is a masterpiece, carrying gigantic emotional value and force,’ he said. ‘It is a unique sculpture, there is nothing else in the world like this.  It is very alive, and very complicated at the same time. 

‘The ornament is covered with nothing but encrypted information. People were passing on knowledge with the help of the Idol.’ Only one of the seven faces is three dimensional. 

While the messages remain ‘an utter mystery to modern man’, it was clear that its creators ‘lived in total harmony with the world, had advanced intellectual development, and a complicated spiritual world’, he said.

The professor has found such a ‘tool’ made from beaver jaw at another archeological site – Beregovaya 2, dating to the same period. 

Studying the Idol, he believed the tool is consistent with its markings, ‘for example when making holes more circular’, said Svetlana Panina, head of the archaeology department at Sverdlovsk Regional Local History Museum.

The idol was put on a stone basement, not dug in the ground, said Zhilin. It stood lik

e this for around 50 years before falling into a pond, and was later covered in turf. The peat preserved it as if in a time capsule. 

I know I have very specific tastes in news, but that is sooo cool. Of course if there were ready made carving tools all around you would use them, rather than make your own. I’m assuming the fact that there were three sizes of tools means that they were three ages of beaver harvested?

crest boar-beaverRegular readers of this blog will know right away why it was the bottom mandible and not the top used for carving. I used to think this tusk-beaver from a bavarian crest was so silly -but it actually makes more sense than our modern bucktoothed cartoon.

Despite what the funny-papers tell us, lower teeth are much larger (which is why it’s so rare to get photos of the upper ones). One fine exception to that rule of castor is this wonderful photo taken by my facebook beaver buddy Sylvie Biber. That may not be her real name, considering, but I believe she’s eastern European,  living in Scotland, where she took this wonderful photo.

Top Teeth Sylvie

Beaver teeth: Sylvie Biber

You can bet I’d chose the bottom ones for my carving!
This also made me remember the research I did of the bay area tribes that lived near Brentwood and Antioch. In their burial grounds archeologists found beaver mandibles buried with the bodies and all their posessions. The paper I read said that no one knew why. Psychologist that I am, I always assumed it was because beaver teeth changed things and what do folks want to change more than death? But maybe they were precious tools, just being tucked away with the owner?

Starved for information

Posted by heidi08 On June - 14 - 2017Comments Off on Starved for information

Why is it that folks in the county library complain about having nothing to read? I guess for the same reason your teenager opens the fridge and says there’s nothing to eat. Certainly the state of New York has blinders on when it comes to solving beaver problems, other wise they would have called on Beavers: Wetlands and Wildlife years ago. The answer to their question is a whopping 130 miles away.

Spencer Trying to Fix Nuisance Beaver Problem in Nichols Pond

As the Spencer Village Board of Trustees continues to ponder the beaver problem that has been plaguing Nichols Pond, they sought input from expert Scott MacDonald, who has had to deal with the industrious critters in his capacity as executive director of the Waterman Conservation Education Center in Appalachin.

For years MacDonald has been trying to figure out the best way to curb damage by the beaver population at Brick Pond in Owego. He found an effective method, though it involved installing two bulkheads that control the water level at a cost of $80,000 taxpayers’ dollars. The Spencer Village Board is seeking a more cost-effective way to prevent damage in and around the village-owned pond.

 Trustee Timothy Goodrich, the board’s point person for all matters related to Nichols Park, said the family of beavers is damming up the inflows and outflows to the pond and rapidly destroying the park’s trees.

MacDonald agreed that it was also probably a beaver that chewed through the underwater electrical line that powers the fountain in the center of the pond. Goodrich said he’s not sure whether or not the fountain will be repaired in time to turn it on this summer.

I want to meet the man who sold them the 80,000 dollar solution, because he’s a genius and should work for the federal government. Clearly no kind of flow device or beaver deceiver was ever installed because they have a crew of volunteers pulling out debris on a daily basis.

The handful of volunteers who clean the debris out of the pond’s culverts are becoming fed up, according to Goodrich. “They want to move onto other stuff,” he said of the volunteers, “but they’re so busy with the beavers they can’t do anything else.”

“I don’t blame them,” he added,” because they’re out there every day.” He said that most if not all of the volunteers are older and that the physical labor of clearing out sticks and packed mud can be hard on them.

Therefore, Goodrich said, the board needs to come up with a solution sooner rather than later. The beavers cannot be trapped and relocated because they are considered a “nuisance” species in New York State, the logic being that it’s not fair for people to release beavers elsewhere and pass on the burden to other landowners.

Goodrich said that he is not opposed to having the beavers killed, a resolution that none of the other trustees were very enthusiastic about supporting.

Most of the trustees said they believe that if the beavers are killed another family of beavers will move in. Goodrich argued that trapping the beavers that live in the pond currently would at least give the village time to come up with an adequate solution before new ones decide to make the pond their home.

MacDonald said he considers having the family beavers killed the one “black mark” on his record as caretaker for the pond, even though it was necessary to secure the state funding necessary to save the pond after the flood.

“It was very bad,” he said. “The public got very upset about it.”

We learned so much from that incident. We still don’t have a clue how to solve beaver beaver problems.

Since that time, he has learned how to raise and lower water levels at certain parts of the pond. If he pays attention to what the beavers are up to, he can often dissuade them from building in problematic places because beavers won’t build dams where the water is not deep enough for them to float the big logs they need to start their shelter. Beavers, he told the board, do not like to drag heavy logs.

Even with the bulkheads, MacDonald said there is some manual labor involved. There’s one culvert he has to dig out himself every once in a while or it becomes a major project — over the last winter he let it go too long, he said, and a few weeks ago he had to go out in a wetsuit with a backhoe to clear the stopped-up water flow.

Some level of manual labor seems inevitable if the beavers are to stay, but Spencer Village Trustee Nicole O’Connell-Avery said that she disapproves of setting kill traps.

She said the traps would likely be set underwater and would catch the beavers by the leg, holding them until they drown. She said it sounds like an awful way to die, and questioned whether or not the traps could endanger swimmers, pets or boaters who fall overboard.

O’Connell-Avery was enthusiastic about the idea of installing heavy-duty fencing in strategic areas that would prevent the beavers from building at the pond’s intakes and outtakes. Mayor Christine Lester said she thought this was worth a try.

O’Connell-Avery also offered up the unique but untested idea of population control: catching, neutering and releasing the pond’s male beavers. O’Connell-Avery works at Cornell University, and she said she would ask around to see if her colleagues would be interested in using the pond as a case study.

Beavers live in families of eight to 10, and usually only one family will live in a body of water as small as Nichols Pond. When the family has about eight offspring, the parents kick out the two oldest, who then seek new habitats at neighboring ponds, according to MacDonald. O”Connell-Avery said that this structured family setup might make for an ideal situation in which researchers could trap the males and keep track of the results.

facepalmWhen the family has about EIGHT OFF SPRING THEY KICK OUT THE TWO OLDEST? Really? And you work at Cornell? Are you the frickin’ janitor?

Good lord this riles me. I’m too old for this sort of nonsense. Considering that Cornell already HIRED Mike Callahan  to install a flow device, every one of these folks should know better. That was just over an entire year ago, I guess I can understand why you wouldn’t be up on such ancient history.

I guarantee you Mike didn’t charge the university 80,000 dollars for his installation, by the way. Heck even when we brought Skip Lisle 3000 miles out from VERMONT to solve our problem it didn’t cost us 80,000.

ACK! Someone get me a paper bag to breathe into. The Cornell website tells me that Nicole is a supervising vet Tech at the wildlife animal hospital at the university. She could really make this happen. We can only hope that before she picks up the scapel to neuter these beavers she cracks open a book and reads that beavers enter estrus once a year and young disperse at two years regardless of the family size. Surely she will listen to a reasonable argument?

Given Spencer’s track record so far, I’m not counting on it.


I need to calm myself by sharing the beautiful new sign that arrived yesterday for my beaver booth. Isn’t this lovely? It will hang out from my booth like one of those Ye Olde Shoppe signs!

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Remember the good ol’ days and those cool hats?

Posted by heidi08 On June - 2 - 2017Comments Off on Remember the good ol’ days and those cool hats?

It’s time to honor the beaver trapper again, at least somebody thinks it is. This glitzy article out of Canada at least has the presence of mind to pose it as a question.  And to interview Leslie Fox of Fur-bearer Defenders also. I guess that’s a little progress in 150 years? It also features some interactive graphics and a 360 video of trapping a beaver because there’s no end to the money HBC will spend glorifying the sport, apparently.

The title of this glitzy article is too clever by half. Not the trappers life of course…the trap line. Get it?

Life on the line

Are fur trappers stuck in the past or a vital piece of Canada’s living heritage?

“That’s good, that’s what we need,” Henschell answers, as Kotowich heaves up a water-logged beaver that’s been dead since the trap snapped shut. The pudgy creature thuds on the ice. Like generations of fur-bearing animals before it, this buck-toothed symbol of Canadian sovereignty met its end in a trap.

With 100 years of experience between them, Henschell and Kotowich say they trap because they love the wilderness and its solitude. They trap to connect with something powerful and elusive that they feel some smartphone-addicted young people are losing sight of in the internet age.

“It’s like going home,” says Henschell, who comes from a family of trappers and says he was conceived in a remote log cabin in the fall of 1938, not long after his parents married.

Canada marks 150 years of nationhood on July 1, 2017. Much of what led to the country’s birth revolved around the trapping and trading of furs, but while the commerce and conflicts of the trade are central to Canada’s history, there is pressure to envision a future without fur.

Some argue there’s no longer a need for the industry.

Lesley Fox, the B.C.-based executive director of the Association for the Protection of Fur-Bearing Animals, says Canada’s historic connection to the fur trade makes it difficult to challenge the industry.

“There is a lot of nostalgia, a lot of Canadiana, and the media hypes that up,” she says.”The modern-day fur trade is very, very different than the fur trade I think we know from our history books.”

The fur trade is inherently cruel and the range of affordable synthetic alternatives have rendered wild fur unnecessary, Fox says.

Sales by the global fur farm industry dwarf those of the wild fur trade year over year; Fox says that illustrates how trapping in 2017 is akin to a frivolous leisure activity like trophy hunting.

“There is a lot of talk about ‘living off the land,’ ‘stewards of the land,’ the word Indigenous gets thrown around a lot, ‘people’s livelihoods,’ and in my opinion that’s all rhetoric. It’s actually not true,” she says.

The province also helped pay for eight “beaver deceivers” — one of several non-lethal flow devices to prevent beaver damming — last year. Animal rights activist Fox says the non-lethal methods are more effective long-term solutions, and trappers should start using their skills to deploy beaver deceivers and other flow devices instead of killing the creatures.

Hooray for Leslie. And hooray for actually mentioning long-term solutions. But we need more talk about what all those beavers that were taken away once gave to Canada! Mind you, there is a lot of sanctimonious tripe about how important trapping is to indigenous people and how tragic it is that an entire way of life (not beaver life, mind you) is forgotten. I suppose with July 1st looming that’s unavoidable. What I object to is that there is ZERO mention that when a trapper turns an animal into fur it takes away the ecosystem services from ALL OF US.

Rather than complain anymore I will just post the lovely finished design that was painted for us by Coyote Brush Studios, and let you admire something truly beautiful. I’m pretty sure this makes the point better than I can hope too. Thank you Tina Curiel and Lindsey Moore for your stunning work!

BeaverPosterFinal_revised