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

The Martinez Beavers

Category: What’s killing beavers now?

My problem is that I am not smart enough to figure out why Newport would write about the beaver problems after hiring a trapper, put photos of the dead beavers in the news, or run the entire story all over again two days later on the evening news.
Do you have any idea?

Beavers becoming pests in Newport, Minnesota

Andy Shoemaker has been trapping for decades, and a couple weeks ago, he got a call from the city of Newport. The city found it while clearing a house off flood plain property they’d purchased, the trees all along the public trail on top of the river dike. So, it’s a legal liability.

“I got one out of here that I’m sure was at least 70 pounds and probably two others that were 60,” Shoemaker said. He said Newport is one of ten stops just today to check traps and that the problems seem to be growing 

That being said, the population is very healthy… Less than a quarter mile up, there’s a whole separate colony of beavers, there’s a whole other one.

Obviously if a solution isn’t working what you need to do is do it MORE. Like the large families of Catholic parents practicing the rhythm method, Newport just needs to try doing their non-solution HARDER.

That should work, right?

I can’t understand why they are running this story again in a town of 3000. There can’t be much push back or they wouldn’t show photos of the dead beavers. There is obviously a problem, and no one on gods green earth can think of a single other thing to do with those trees to protect them. Certainly not spend the half hour public works uses to complain on camera to actually wrap them with wire. That’s just silly.

There are plenty of other species that would consider that a better idea. Here’s just one  example from today’s news.

Wood Turtles In The Adirondack

Unlike the painted and snapping turtles, the wood turtle does not prefer to reside in the quiet waters of ponds, marshes, and the weedy shores of lakes. Rather, this reptile is more attracted to large, sluggish brooks, alder-choked streams and meandering rivers, especially those that flow through wooded areas. Because the wood turtle is not as well adapted for absorbing oxygen from water as other turtles, it must seek out those aquatic settings in which there is a high concentration of this dissolved gas. Sections of water in which a series of small, swirling cataracts and periodic waterfalls allow the air to mix with water forming a solution rich in oxygen are ideal. Even the waterfalls on the spillway on a beaver dam can create favorable conditions downstream for the wood turtle.

Here’s some more:



There are very few advantages to the thankless job of writing about beavers every day – (I mean there isn’t free beaver merchandise given at conferences, or drinks on the road with the team, or eager secretaries wanting to make a good impression) -there aren’t what you’d call “Perks”.

But there is  this: which apparently even the multi-million Canadian Broadcasting Corportation cannot boast:

A sense of HISTORY and the ability to see when things happen over again and again.

Rural Sask. municipalities look to solve big beaver problem

Beavers are burdening rural areas of the province, and now the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities is looking for solutions — including the restoration of funding for a program cut in the last provincial budget.

Beaver numbers have boomed to a point of overpopulation and the critters have been destroying infrastructure, according to several municipalities. At the association’s midterm convention in Regina on Tuesday and Wednesday, two of the matters on the agenda touched on the nuisance beavers are creating in rural areas.

“Problem beavers” and the structures they build can lead to road and property flooding, according to the SARM website. In response, the association created a beaver steering committee, representing a coalition of rural municipalities, associations and government.

Now doesn’t the article make it seem like this is a brand new solution that will tackle the problem in a brand new way and rid the poor folks once and for all of these pesky beavers? Except for I wrote about SARM and its coalition of 16th century tools to tackle the ‘exploding beaver population’ back in 2011. In fact, that column had some of my earliest graphics that still make me smile fondly today.

“Exploding beavers? Now that does sound dangerous! No wonder you found 500,000 to fight it! I guess America has seen shoe bombs and underwear bombs in the last few years, so why NOT an exploding beaver! It’s insidious!

Ohh. I just received a wire from the Ministry of Dangling Participles clarifying that the population of beavers has exploded, not the beavers themselves.  Whew. That’s a relief! I was going for my beaver-proof vest. I’m curious though, how do you know the population has exploded? I mean when is the last time you did a regional count and how do you know the numbers have increased?”

Funny thing about Beaver trapping. When governments rush in to take out massive groups of beavers,  populations have a way of recovering. In fact they often rebound, with more food available for fewer beavers and female caloric intake increasing so that brood size increases. You end up doing the same thing all over again in 1-2 years.

Hopefully you set aside another 500,000 dollars to take care of that problem?

Ahhh, I was so young and naive in those days. I actually thought Saskatchewan could be shamed into fixing their beaver problems with reasonable and proven techniques. Silly, silly girl. What did I know? I didn’t realize that they were the MOST BACKWARD and BRAZEN region on the entire planet when it comes to beaver management. They had the infamous kill contest two years ago that resulted in terrible press for the entire region. Literally hundreds of beavers were killed. And it didn’t help.

CBC might act like this is a “NEW” problem. But we here at beaver central know better.

In response, the association created a beaver steering committee, representing a coalition of rural municipalities, associations and government. At its conference, the association tabled a resolution calling for the restoration of funding for the Beaver Management in Provincial Parks program, which was cut from this year’s budget.

It also called for a special permit to control nuisance wildlife within a specific distance of threatened fields or infrastructure. SARM hopes the government will restore funding for the beaver management program in the 2018-2019 budget. It also called for a special permit to control nuisance wildlife within a specific distance of threatened fields or infrastructure.

Good luck convincing folks to spend money and not solve the problem again. I’m sure you’ll get it.  I mean someday they’ll probably realize that the amount they have been spending over and over again has been useless. Some bored intern will crack open the budget book for the last 20 years and realize how much money they’ve handed you  to throw away  over the years and  someone with a brain will demand actual accountability for the contract.

But don’t worry,  I’m sure that day won’t come anytime soon.


Speaking of young naive things that have zero idea what’s ahead of them, It seems like a good time to mention that today is our 32nd anniversary of wedded bliss. Who would allow these children to be married? What on earth were those foolish babies thinking?

Happy Anniversary Jon!


Nobody told me there’d be days like this in beaverland. Wow. The past two days have been exploding with good beaver news but this takes the veritable cake. Guess who the center for biological diversity is suing now? And for WHAT?


Lawsuit Aims to Protect Salmon Harmed by Government Beaver-killing in Oregon

PORTLAND, Ore.— Two environmental organizations today filed a formal notice of intent to sue a federal program that kills hundreds of beavers a year in Oregon. The lawsuit aims to hold the program, Wildlife Services, accountable for killing beavers because the animals are essential to protecting threatened and endangered fish like salmon and steelhead.

Wildlife Services, a part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, kills the beavers with traps, snares and firearms. Beavers are Oregon’s official state animal.

Numerous studies show that beavers benefit endangered salmon and steelhead by creating ponds that provide fish with natural cover and food. Despite these well-established ecological benefits, Wildlife Services killed more than 400 beavers in Oregon in 2016. The extermination agency even killed beavers in counties where endangered aquatic wildlife rely on beaver ponds for survival.

“Killing beavers in Oregon just one year after federal fish experts announced that beavers are essential to providing high-quality habitat for salmon is just perverse,” said Nina Bell, executive director of Northwest Environmental Advocates. “If this state is committed to saving salmon, we have to be equally committed to preserving the remaining fraction of beavers that historically lived in Oregon.”

NO FOOLIN’. I heard nothing of this in the pipes and everyone I’ve talked to is slapping their foreheads. That we weren’t warned isn’t a huge surprise because CBD tends to forage on their own and act like the only team on the field. For this particular lawsuit they’ve teamed up with the Northwest Environmental Advocates. Their letter of intent clearly lays out the legal basis for the suit, explaining that when an animal is listed on the Endangered Species Act as salmon and steelhead are, and ANY federal agency is going to do something that affects their habitat they are required to mitigate the action and warn those involved. And since there are decades of evidence that trapping beavers threatens salmonids they have failed in this responsibility for years and years. Read for yourself.

When a species has been listed or critical habitat designated under the ESA, all federal agencies—including APHIS-Wildlife Services—must ensure in consultation with the Services that their programs and activities are in compliance with the ESA. 16 U.S.C. § 1536(a)(2). Specifically, section 7(a)(2) of the ESA mandates that all federal agencies “insure that any action authorized, funded, or carried out by such agency . . . is not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of any endangered species or threatened species or result in the destruction or adverse modification of [critical] habitat of such species.”
Now that seems pretty clear cut, doesn’t it? I’m sure that WS has lots of ways to justify their actions but I can imagine some smart judge ruling that the evidence shows that removing beaver is a threat to salmon and they’re required to engage in mitigation when they do so. Like build BDAs or pay a fine. Can’t you?
The entire document is well prepared with a few jarring exceptions. It has the requisite shocking photos of dead beavers in traps or piled on trucks (which won’t do much in court), and isn’t careful about language enough for my tastes. (That paragraph alone spells “ensure” two ways without explanation) but its a HUGE shot across the bow, and every one from Michael Pollock to Ann Riley to Michael Callahan wrote me VERY interested in this yesterday. The reference section is thorough, indeed.
Here is their list of endangered species that beaver removal affects.
  1. Salmon, Chinook Snake River spring/summer-run ESUOncorhynchus Salmotshawytscha
  2. Salmon, Chinook Upper Willamette River ESU Oncorhynchus Salmotshawytscha
  3. Steelhead Upper Willamette River DPS Oncorhynchus Salmomykiss
  4. Salmon, coho Oregon Coast ESU Oncorhynchus Salmo kisutch
  5. Steelhead Middle Columbia River DPS Oncorhynchus Salmomykiss
  6. Sucker, Warner Catostomus warnerensis
  7. Trout, bull Salvelinus confluentus
  8. Trout, Lahontan cutthroat Oncorhynchus clarkii henshawi
  9. Frog, Oregon spotted Rana pretiosa

I can see California and Washington watching eagerly to see how this plays out, and follow suit down the line. I know APHIS is the favorite target for CBD, but in our state CDFG allows the killing of far more beavers than are taken by APHIS alone. Is there any way that this suit could affect the number of depredation permits issued to private landowners or cities because of threat to salmon? Or Red legged frogs? Or migratory birds? Or WATER?

You can see the list grow.

And if that isn’t exciting enough for you, how about beaver benefits on Utah Public Radio? Robert Edgel is working with the Wetlands Initiative to install BDAs until the real things comes along.

Beavers are what biologists call an “ecosystem engineer.” That means that they change the environment they live in, and help maintain critical habitat for other species. Beaver dams raise the water level of a stream which causes the stream to flood during spring runoff. The flooding allows grasses and forbs to grow and the much needed insect population to thrive.
Oh and I saw this yesterday on FB and wanted to share. Suzi Eszterhas, the wildlife photographer that filmed our beavers a few years back and is a friend of the festival, is currently in Africa, facing brand new hazards on her current assignment. This time it’s a opportunistic meerkat who has decided to use her as a lookout.


Today is a grim day for beavers living at Mystic lake in Bozeman Montana. Located in the Custer Gallatan National Forest at the bottom of Montana near the top of Yellowstone.  November 1st is the date the Forest Service and City will be teaming up to syphon out some of the water before ripping out the dam entirely because they are worried a washout could impact the city. It is 35 degrees today with a winter storm warning, so in every likely hood most of those beavers will lose their home, their pantry, and eventually their lives if enthusiastic hunters don’t pick them off in the meantime.

City, Forest Service to tear out Mystic Lake beaver dam

City and federal officials are working together to get rid of a potentially problematic beaver dam at the outlet of Mystic Lake that they say is a safety hazard.

beaver-damThe city of Bozeman and the U.S. Forest Service began talking about tearing out the dam in late August. A news release sent out Wednesday said the dam is “large enough to create a public safety concern downstream due to increased water volume in the lake.”

The work will begin Nov. 1. Workers will siphon water from the lake to Bozeman Creek to drop water levels. Heavy equipment will roll in to help tear out the dam.

The Forest Service wants to warn hikers that Bozeman Creek’s flows will likely be increased while the work is ongoing. Trucks and heavy equipment will be rumbling up administrative roads and trails throughout the area, including Forest Service Roads 176 (Moser Creek Cutoff) and 979 (Bozeman Creek).

So they agreed this work should be done three months ago but didn’t get around to doing it until NOW when there is no chance the beavers can recover their food stash or rebuild their flooded home? I suppose they didn’t want to compromise the trails during hiking season so they waited until winter. But this is just cruel. I can’t believe the forest service is helping them do this. Who do they work for anyway?

Beaver Dam Removal Planned for the Mystic Lake Outlet south of Bozeman

Bozeman, Montana – Trail users near Mystic Lake, in the Sourdough Drainage, south of Bozeman, Montana should be aware that there will be a flurry of activity associated with a beaver dam removal project starting November 1.  Visitors can expect vehicle activity, heavy equipment operation and a crew working near the lake outlet for about two weeks..  “We realize that the activity may disrupt hunters and recreationist in the area but the work is extremely important” acknowledged Acting Bozeman District Ranger, David Francomb.

For the project duration, there will be higher than normal water flows in Bozeman Creek. Flow related water surges will be comparable to spring run-off water levels, thus, recreation users considering creek crossings should use extra caution.    Property owners along Bozeman creek will see more water in the stream.  According to Brian Heaston, City of Bozeman Engineer, “the increased flows are not anticipated to pose a threat to life safety or property.”

You’re worried about disrupting the poor, poor hunters in the area? Trust me, they’ll be fine. Someone sent Ben Goldfarb the last-org discussion about this decision by some wildlife activists in the area who know better. I’m glad people are worried about these beavers, because they should be. I feel just awful for not writing about this sooner and contacting the folks involved. We were in transition between the Sierras and home and the alert must have escaped me.

I doubt anything short of an injunction is going to stop them today when their heavy equipment is already loaded and on its way but we can make their lives a little less pleasant. Honestly these are the very kind of decisions that enrage me. For what its worth, here’s the forest service number and the project engineer’s  direct line


I was feeling hopeless this morning but I am SO WRONG! Sounds like locals must have gotten involved. I wrote Mr. Francomb and he wrote back this morning from his home in Vermont, cc’ing the ranger currently in charge. They knew about flow devices but were worried about a dam washout. Then a late email came just now saying that the flooding will be mitigated and a long term solution will be proved at a later date! WHOO HOOO!

Update on Mystic Lake project.  Engineers are currently working on a mitigation device to keep water to tolerable level after lowering and keeping the beavers in the system.  Long term solutions will be discussed at a later date.  Thanks.

Looks like those pesky beavers have been up to no good again. This time in Sheridan Wyoming which is almost far north enough to be in Montana. Apparently they took care of the problem JUST in time.

Beaver dams, apparently built this past summer, caused some flooding over Slack Road, a county road in the northwest part of Sheridan County. County Engineer Ken Muller said three beavers have been removed, although a fourth may still be in the area, and county crews plan to take action this week to deal with the dams.

Muller said a state trapper was called and trapped three of the beavers. He said they’ve been relocated. The dams were built in nearby West Pass Creek, and Muller said the road is currently in pretty good condition. However, he said, the water is right up to the edge of the road on both sides, and crews need to deal with the situation before winter sets in.

Muller said this kind of situation doesn’t happen too often, but about four years ago, the county had an issue with a beaver dam flooding South Creek Road. In that situation, he said, the water actually crossed the road. Fortunately, he said, the road wasn’t damaged.

Relocated? Really? Do think Wyoming is ecologically sophisticated in ways for which we don’t give them credit? Or do you possibly think that trapper is just spinning a tale and blowing some smoke up our skirts by alleging that they were like that puppy our parents said went to ‘live on the farm”? I’m guessing that those beavers were relocated to Hamlet’s “Undiscovered country, from whose bourn no traveler returns“. But either way it’s a death sentence because it’s 34 degrees there this morning, with poor conditions to build a lodge or establish a food cache.

Still the lying irks me. So brazen. This song popped in my head as I read it, although different Sheridan, I imagine.

Ohh you cannot get to Sheridan, says the false knight on the road

Speaking of my husband’s homeland, God bless BBC programs like Autumnwatch which is broadcasting an admirable program filmed on the Devon beavers with a rare local farmer who isn’t a beaverphobe. I love seeing the wonder with which they watch as Autumnthe beaver does the most mundane beaver things. It is how i felt the very first year watching our beavers alone every morning. Turn your sound UP for this just to hear it in their voices.