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

The good, the kinda good and the ugly

Posted by heidi08 On April - 24 - 20174 COMMENTS

There is a lot of beaver news to catch up on this morning. I got behind on earthday and let our usual beaver-ticker slide.  It’s monday and I think we should start with the good news and grim our way down the ladder from there, okay? (And yes I know that ‘grim’ isn’t a verb, but it just seems right today.)

Long time readers of this website might remember that a while ago Washington passed a ‘beaver bill’ that allowed them to relocate problem beavers in the Eastern (driest) part of the state. (Our beaver friends Joe Cannon and Amanda Parish of the Lands Council worked on that.) It was a pretty big deal at the time and was a struggle to pass. Well, on Thursday the governor signed into law a change stating that beavers could be relocated in WESTERN Washington as well.

This is Chompski, a beaver relocated in Bodie Creek outside Wauconda, Washington in 2012. (Chandra Hutsel / Courtesy of state Rep. Joel Kretz)

Western Washington can have relocated beavers

Western Washington beavers who are trapped by the state Department of Fish and Wildlife can be relocated to a more opportune location west of the Cascades, a bill signed into law by Gov. Jay Inslee Thursday says.

The department has had a program to relocate nuisance beavers it traps in Eastern Washington for several years, with the restriction that they can’t be shipped over the mountains to the “wet side” of the state. The program started when Rep. Joel Kretz, R-Wauconda, thought some of the toothy rodents that the department was already trapping might be sent to land owners that were trying to improve their water tables by impounding creeks or streams.

This year, some Western Washington landowners decided they wanted to try it, too. The original bill took Kretz several tries to make it through the Legislature. This bill passed the House 98-0, and the Senate 45-1.

It was 2012 when the Eastern law finally passed – years after it had been promoted and voted down many times. In fact in 2005 a bill allowing it was vetoed by the governor of the state. What a difference 12 years makes, eh? I guess the state is finally recognizing the good things that beavers do for fish, water and wildlife. Now they just need to learn to leave the beavers where they are and change the people instead – making them use the tools that will let them to coexist.

Another dozen years maybe?

Meanwhile in Canada the “Beaver Whisperer” is teaching folks how to manage beaver conflicts using a ‘baffler’. Mostly good news, although we’re not thrilled by his protege’s statement that beavers damage water quality.

Learn how to manage beavers on your property from the ‘Beaver Whisperer’

Learn how to manage beavers and create a peaceful co-existence on May 11 at the Beaver Management Workshop, hosted by the North Bay-Mattawa Conservation Authority (NBMCA) and Friends of Laurier Woods.

NBMCA staff install a beaver pond leveller known as a “beaver baffle” summer 2015 at Laurier Woods Conservation Area.

“Beavers can be a benefit and a bur

den,” explains Troy Storms, NBMCA’s Supervisor, Field Operations.  

“They help maintain important wetland ecosystems. They create habitat for themselves, as well as several other species.  But they can damage vegetation, farmland, municipal infrastructure and water quality,” he added.

This workshop includes a morning presentation by “beaver whisperer” Michel Leclair, followed by an afternoon field trip to Laurier Woods Conservation Area to see a “beaver baffle” in action.

Two steps forward one step back. I’m pretty sure that even if beavers are important to other species damaging water quality is kind of deal-breaker. That’s what we call very bad advertising. I’m sure he’s referring to the bogus concern that they cause ‘beaver fever’ which we all know MUST be true because it rhymes. I wish someone was on hand to talk about how much they IMPROVE water quality or how their dams act as a filter to remove toxins and nitrates from the water.

Is it too much to ask?

Finally a very ugly story from North Carolina where they believe they proudly have discovered that beaver dams can be destroyed with a machete.

Busting beaver dams solves flooding problem near Linden

CaptureLINDEN — Flooding across from a neighborhood near Lake Teresa has greatly diminished after members of the community and other helpers tore down beaver dams nearby. Bob Hathcock, who lives on Canal Street, said the swamp that had formed in a wooded area between the street and a field off Lane Road near Linden has gone down.

“I’d say it’s down two feet and still draining,” he said.

He described the work as a community effort that involved four neighborhood residents and three people who live elsewhere. “We got out there with axes, shovels and machetes, and started busting things up,” he said. “The people kind of enjoyed it.”

Hathcock said the destruction of three dams, including one that was about 200 feet wide, did not reduce the swamp near the neighborhood. When a fourth was tore down, the water started receding. It went down even more after a fifth dam was removed.

“Everything is flowing out now,” he said. “We are so relieved.” Hathcock said eight beavers have been trapped. Some weighed more than 50 pounds each, he said.

“We’ve still got traps out there,” he said. One person managed to catch a beaver the day after he put out a trap, Hathcock said. “He was like a kid at Christmas trapping that beaver,” he said.

Hathcock said several companies offered to deal with the problem, but were going to charge up to thousands of dollars. The USDA charged the residents $25, he said.

How much do I hate this article? Let me count the ways.

So Jimbob and Billybud got all their axes and pitchforks and ripped out 5 (five!) beaver dams to make the water flow again. (Just because he lives on Canal street, Bob never expected there to be WATER on it.) Remember that this is a state we gave countless FEMA dollars in drought relief a couple years ago, but never mind, because who needs to save water anyway? Now it’s free like aMurica!  Never mind the dying fish, frogs or the wood duck hatchlings whose nests are now too far from the water to make the jump safely. What matters is that 8 beavers are dead, the folk had fun destroying their wetlans and someone celebrated Christmas early.

I am curious though, if folks ripped out the dams and trapped the beavers themselves, what exactly the USDA was charging 25 dollars for?

Second Beaver Chapters

Posted by heidi08 On April - 20 - 2017Comments Off on Second Beaver Chapters

I have to tell you earnestly, our website has the BEST readers. Bob Kobres from Georgia found that footage of the Buda Texas flow device, and yesterday Robin Ellison of Napa tracked down the story of what happened to the cow-herding beaver. I’m so glad I got to watch this. And this fine rancher should be a spokeswoman as she is clearly the nicest person in Saskatchewan and a wonderful story teller.

I love the idea of the beaver going under the fence and the cows just watching with awe as he waddles away. Thanks Robin for assuring us this had a happy ending!

Not sure we’re going to get the same for some beavers in Rancho Cordova on CBS last night. But the fact that they were on the news instead of just quietly dispatched means they have a prayer. The report says the city is being ‘advised’ and you can guess by whom.

Beaver Dams Creating Flood Risk For Rancho Cordova Neighborhood

Given the location, I’m willing to bet that the ‘advisor’ the city is talking to is Mary Tappel, who came all the way to Martinez just to share her misinformation with our staff. Ahh, memories. The idea bothered me enough that I spent the past hour writing the city council about our solutions and the inaccurate information we received. I’m going to trust that there’s a chance it will get read and considered, but in between Placer and Sacramento is a hard place to be a beaver.

This lovely photo is from Leopold Kanzler in Vienna. He got my attention yesterday on FB when he changed his image to this great photo, which enchanted me for obvious reasons. Then I remembered he was the brilliant mind behind these photos and knew we were among friends. I’m told that these were not photo-shopped just carefully constructed beaver- curiosity driven moments that he perfectly captured on film.

Beaver Uses Laptop Beaver Uses Laptop


A Modest [beaver] Proposal

Posted by heidi08 On April - 14 - 2017Comments Off on A Modest [beaver] Proposal

“A Modest Proposal” was published anonymously in 1729 by Jonathan Swift and shocked readers with the [satiric] suggestion that the problem of too many Irish poor children could be solved if their parents simply sold them as a food source to rich people.

A young healthy child well nursed, is, at a year old, a most delicious nourishing and wholesome food, whether stewed, roasted, baked, or boiled; and I make no doubt that it will equally serve in a fricassee, or a ragout.”[1]

Long before Trump said Mexicans were rapists and murderers, Swift  hated the way people were treating the poor Irish and more particularly the way that people wrote about their plight as if one single solution could solve everything. One of the subtle victories of the pamphlet was that it shocked and enraged the reader so much that they ended up hating the narrator and feeling sorry instead for the Irish.

Let’s hope. Because yesterday New Hampshire NPR podcast  on beavers from “Outside In” centered on a thoughtful retired mid-wife who solved her pesky beaver problem by deciding to eat them.

No really.

“For seven years I said, you can’t kill them, you have to outwit them. That’s back when I thought you could actually outwit a beaver, but you can’t.”


The paradigm under which we currently operate is called the American system of wildlife management, under which wildlife is a commonly owned resource, and through regulation we decide how many animals we will kill. Are deer eating the shoots off of too many saplings out in the forest? Increase the number of deer hunting permits issued. Are farmers complaining about losing livestock to coyotes? Relax limitations on hunting them. Are there so many beaver that they are expanding wetlands until they flood wells and roads? Call in trappers to reduce beaver populations in that location.

This ensures that the population stays below what is called the “biological carrying capacity” which is a fancy science-y way of saying “how many beaver the land can sustain.” Pat Tate is a big believer in keeping animal density low, because he believes it makes the animal’s lives better.

Pat said, “As I’ve reduced numbers in the wetlands, and went back subsequent years to trap, the amount of scarring and bite-marks on the beaver decreases. So the individual animal’s health increases.”

And trappers I’ve spoken to hear a lot of hypocrisy whenever they hear people call trapping immoral. For instance, a trapper from Southern New Hampshire, Jeff Traynor, points out there isn’t the same outrage at housing developments or highways or parking lots: forces that have just as much to do with keeping beaver populations low.

“We are the most invasive species on the planet, there’s no doubt about it,” he told me, “As we encroach more we’re pushing them. So where is that overflow going? There’s only so many places that they can go. It comes to a point where you can say, well let’s just let nature take its course, or you can say, as human beings can we manage this creature with moral wisdom?”

Two things I’m SURE trappers possess an abundance of: Morality and Wisdom. P-uleeze! If you have time go listen to the whole thing, because it is actually stunning how often it is incorrect. The story didn’t get any better when he talked to our friends Skip Lisle or Art Wolinsky either.

But this “moral wisdom” argument, just doesn’t do it for many beaver believers. Skip Lisle, founder of Beaver Deceivers International, has heard this argument for years in his line of work, and doesn’t buy it. “You know, you always hear, we have to kill the beavers so they don’t get hungry. And if you were an individual beaver, you can imagine which choice they would choose if they had one to make, right? Would you rather be hungry or dead?”

The proponents of restricting beaver trapping often point out that while some management decisions are based on ecosystems science—with government biologists going out and to try to estimate how many animals the land can sustain— other times, the decision is based on our willingness to tolerate animals. This is, almost euphemistically, what we call the “cultural carrying capacity.” And for beavers, it’s often that cultural limit, and not the actual limits of the habitat, that they bump up against.

Skip and his disciples argue they can increase society’s tolerance for beaver by keeping the two species from coming into conflict. Beavers’ damming instinct is triggered by running water, and by using a clever arrangements of grates, culverts, and drainage pipes, Skip keeps beaver far enough away from the running water that they don’t get the urge to start building a dam.

By putting in this type of “fixed protection” whenever a conflict arises, Skip argues we can have the best of both worlds: a growing beaver population and an infrastructure that isn’t submerged under beaver ponds. For him, the argument that trapping leads to a healthier population is beside the point.

Good for you Skip, I’m glad you tried valiantly to elevate this beaver HIT piece. But of course the narrator visits next the plight of Massachusetts where the mean compassion-isitas outlawed body crushing traps in 1996 and the beaver population exploded, because no trappers! (Never mind that no one IS or WAS counting the beaver population in MA or anywhere and any time threats to human property is at stake the same traps can be used anyway.)

Then he trots faithfully back to the beaver-eating midwife who bemoans that she tried installing a beaver deceiver AND a beaver baffler and they didn’t work!  So the plucky gal picked up her fork and got to work.

Carol Leonard, who started off our story, spent seven-years trying to figure out how to fool the beavers on her property. “In my naivete I said oh well we’ll try these beaver deceivers and these beaver bafflers and all these do-hickers,” she recalled. But eventually she gave up and apprenticed with a trapper, and started to trap out the animals that threatened her property.

“We are meat eaters, you know, we are hunter gatherers, it’s part of who we are. And so to be able to turn a blind eye to that is just a blind eye,” she said. She applauds animal rights activists, but says she thinks their efforts are better spent protesting concentrated animal feeding operations, or other places where animals live short and miserable lives before heading to our plates. “I think the traditions of hunting and trapping in New England are good, healthy traditions. And I can’t talk against hunters… I can’t. I’m a meat-eater.”

Carol says she has trapped somewhere in the neighborhood of 30 beavers from her property, and while many still remain just downstream, the pond that was threatening her septic setback is no longer growing. In 2015, she and her husband were able to start construction and their home, now completed, is gorgeous, judging from a recent photo spread done by Down East Magazine.

That’s right, You know the old saying: if you can’t Beat ’em – Eat’em. 

I don’t know about you but I’ve reached my CULTURAL CARRYING CAPACITY for stupid-ass reporters like this who repeat beaver bullshit even though they  have the real answers RIGHT at their fingertips. A reporter with access to talk to experts like Skip Lisle or Ben Goldfarb but still clings to the bitter laments of trappers and fish and game instead. Ben told me in an email last night that in his interview with Sam Evans-Brown, the reporter said that he had been told “flow devices only work 10% of the time”. So of course, when midwife said it didn’t work, he believed it. Why would he read any of the articles citing their success OR interview Dr. Glynnis Hood who has been using them with great success OR talk to someone Skip had done an installation for a decade ago and ask whether it actually worked.

Details Details.

It’s all comes down to real estate. Beavers are in our WAY and we deserve to kill them, didn’t you realize? And besides who needs clean water anyway?

“I grant that this food will be very dear and therefore more proper for the landlords, who, as they have already devoured most of the parents, seem to have best title to the children.”