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

The Martinez Beavers

Category: Who’s Killing Beavers Now?


Greenburn lake is in the Gulf Islands off the west coast of British Columbia. It’s actually located in that little missing chip in the utmost left hand corner of Washington State. It’s not all that far from Port Moody as the beaver swims, so I’m hoping many heroes help them with this particular problem.

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Aerial view of Greenburn Lake, South Pender Island, with North Pender Island and Vancouver Island in the background, South Pender Island

Gulf Islanders outraged over plan to euthanize beavers

A death sentence has been passed on the beavers living in a small lake in the Gulf Islands, but concerned citizens are hoping they can force a last minute pardon. The rodents have been busy building dams in South Pender Island’s Greenburn Lake. 

Parks Canada, which administers the area as part of the Gulf Islands National Park Reserve, says the beavers’ work is threatening an earthen dam. Officials say they’ve exhausted all other options and have no choice but to humanely trap and euthanize the animals. But local residents are planning a blockade in an attempt to get the execution called off.

“We’re actually horrified by the fact that they would dream of killing wild animals when their mandate is to protect the wilderness and wild animals,” Leslie McBain told CBC News.

“It is ironic that their symbol, the National Parks symbol, is a beaver.”

‘A very difficult decision’

Nathan Cardinal, acting superintendent for the park, said he’s sympathetic to concerns from the public. “Having to take these steps is a very difficult decision for the agency and everyone involved,” he said.”We respect the right for people to protest, for sure, and we acknowledge that many people on the island care about the beavers. For us, euthanizing a problem animal is always the last resort.”

Between one and eight beavers have made their homes in the lake and, as they construct their own dams, more and more water is building up behind the man-made dam, threatening its structural integrity. Cardinal said that if the beavers are allowed to continue living in the lake, the dam will fail, causing water to spill onto people’s properties and into their homes.

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before.

“At Parks Canada, it’s our mandate to ensure ecological integrity, but we always have to ensure that public safety comes first,” he said. Parks officials have been looking at potential solutions for about a year.

They’ve tried installing something called a “beaver deceiver” — a rectangular fence protecting a culvert that allows water to flow through — but the rodents responded by building dams in new places, causing more backup.

In what pretend universe is a beaver deceiver rectangular? How on earth would that possibly work? So let me understand this right, because you failed to use a tool correctly the beavers must die?

Parks officials have also looked into relocating the animals. But Cardinal said beavers are both territorial and increasingly abundant across B.C., so staff couldn’t find a suitable new home.

Now that it’s November, Parks Canada feels compelled to act. “We need to address it now before we get into the very wet season of the winter,” Cardinal said.

But McBain has a hard time believing there are no other options and would like to see the community consulted about what happens to the beavers.

“Humans are impacting the environment, it’s not beavers that are impacting the environment. We destroyed their habitat first, now we’re just going to destroy them,” she said.

First of all, NICE work Leslie. You already have that reporter eating out of your hand because look at the tone of the article! I’d say if you bring some children dressed in beaver tails and show them a photo of the ACTUAL trapezoidal beaver deceived you’re home free. Or at least on broadcast news. Then 200 more people will care about this issue and THEN you’ll be home free.

I have no idea what kind of rectangular fence they used to protect the culvert, but it sound like the beavers scoffed at their feeble attempts and kept right on making a safe pond for their family. Those stubborn beavers, willfully insisting on protecting their children and eating ALL winter long.

I will try and track down Leslie and Nathan today, and talk to them  about real options.


 

On a related note, this was a nice discussion of urban wildlife recently on KQED. I’m sure it was just an oversight on Colleen’s part that she forgot to mention beavers.

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It is impossible to read this article from the banks of lake Huron in Michigan without remembering the posterior-covering things told to us by our city staff when our beaver dams were threatened. What we learned in those early days is that everyone protects everyone else, and city attorneys are every bit as difficult and narrow-minded as you would expect them to be. And then some. Save this in case your city manager ever starts to do the same things, or just enjoy this trip down memory lane.

Beaver dam removal leads to complaints by public

LINCOLN — The Alcona County Road Commission has received complaints for the removal of a beaver dam on Cedar Lake that allegedly was causing drainage and flooding issues for residents.

Managing Director Jesse Campbell told trustees during a meeting Tuesday that although the dam may be gone, complaints from some members of the public still will be coming in.

Campbell, who acts as the county’s drain commissioner through a mandate by the Alcona County Board of Commissioners, said the dam was ordered removed by county Prosecutor Tom Weichel who is the drain commission’s attorney.

 Chairman Alfred Scully said one complainant took the matter to the Cedar Lake Improvement Board and alleged the county made a mess of the dam removal, leaving debris in the area. Scully said this was Friday, the first day of the three-day removal project.

We’re in the middle of the job but he (complained) that we don’t know what we’re doing. We worked on it, and left a mess (he said) but it wasn’t like we were done,” Scully said.

We were just getting to that! Honest! It’s the way cities work. First you make the mess thoroughly and then you wait two days to see if anyone complains and then you clean up the mess.  HONEST we were coming back on Monday to finish. (If we had to.) And our decision to engage in destruction on a friday had NOTHING whatsoever at all to do with the fact that we wanted the office to be closed and locked by the time you came home from work, saw the mess, and tried to call our bosses about it.

Campbell said some in the public questioned the process of dam removal in emails to the road commission. He said the county was in its legal right to remove the dam and did not need permits to do so.

“Under the drain law of 1940 in the road law there is no permit needed for beaver dam removal affecting a county drain or within the road right of way,” Campbell wrote.

One complainant was concerned with the dam removal because the presence of heavy equipment disturbed duck hunting areas near a 20-acre parcel of property.

Ripping a dam with heavy equipment might affect duck hunting? I’ve got news for you. Ripping out the dam PERIOD might affect duck hunting. Just think about all that tasty forage the silt and mud removal is going to ruin. Or the safe nesting spots that will be lost forever.

Campbell said two beavers will be killed in the removal following Michigan Department of Environmental Quality guidelines and the county would reimburse the road commission for the work, like many other subcontracting jobs.

“The person didn’t feel that we should be there and they may get an attorney,” Campbell said. “This may open up a big can of worms.”

Ohhh I think the proverbial can has been opened. And I think you are well aware of that – which is why you’re trying to cover your tracks with this weaselly little statement to the board.

One concern was the land and area where the dam was removed had ground that was disturbed.

As far as refurbishing the area where the dam was removed, Campbell said soil could not be put back into the area because it could contaminate the lake water with silt, though straw could be put in place as a maintenance measure.

“Within two years all the stuff is going to come back in, the vegetation is going to come back,” he said.

Of course we couldn’t smooth down the muck after we made it, because you know lake Huron would silt up and that would be terrible! I mean ripping out the dam probably released a little silt too, but it was necessary. Don’t worry, I know its an eyesore in your front yards now, but in two years time it will all have grown back! You won’t even know we were here.

That’s nothing. In two year’s time more beavers will move in and build a dam. Then we’ll come back and do it all again. The county reimburses for stuff like that doesn’t it?

Scully told Campbell that in the future all questions from the public would be directed to Weichel for his legal expertise. He said he was concerned with the rudeness of some of the complainants who personally contacted him by telephone.

I’ve never been spoken to by such ruffians in all my born days!  My virgin ears are still stinging! There’s no cause to get personally RUDE just because my crew climbed into your front yard and ripped out the pond leaving mud and sticks all over (and that coke can). Insulting the dating history of my dear old mother is WAY out of line!

How Rude!

Ahh the pearl-clutching and righteous affront! It’s like we’ve gone back in time right down to the full tempers of the day. I’m pretty sure there’s a rule book somewhere that all city employees have access to.

First stall.
Then Lie.
Then Say there’s an ordinance.
Then act OFFENDED!

Remember when our public works director told staff that he didn’t want my husband to go to the subcommittee meetings anymore because he had scowled at him? (Truly willful scrowling can be a burden.) And remember when some smart-ass emailed the city council member after they were quoted saying the beavers should be euthanized by sarcastically saying maybe their children should be euthanized? And of course a swat team was brought in and the full 11 member police force had to be paid overtime at the meeting because of the “death threat?”

You know exactly what the drama playing out here is. Cities do what they want first, and find reasons to justify it second. They were just doing their jobs. If they didn’t remove that dam lives could be lost. When they said that offensive thing they were only joking. Can’t you take a joke? They’re only beavers, after all.

Ahh thanks for the memories, Alcona.

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Winds picked up again last night and there were more evacuations in Santa Rosa. The death toll now is 40. Things slowed a little in Napa and the Atlas fire, where it all started, is now 50% contained. Here in Martinez the air was actually pleasant enough to risk going outside for a bit. Allowing us to see the fine layer of ash all over our deck furniture. The red flag warning for fire conditions in Napa will continue until the afternoon.

In the meantime I am happy to be catching up on some actual beaver news. The next installment will be an old favorite as poor Massachusetts struggles to eliminate the will of those pesky voters once again.

Also on the agenda is a proposal to allow hunters to use crossbows, which are currently prohibited by the state, except for people with a disability that prohibits them from using other archery equipment. If passed, the new law would allow hunters to carry equipment complying with specific weight and design requirements.

Gobi told the Telegram she was optimistic that the crossbow bill would diversify the population of archers, which would no longer be limited to those strong enough to pull back a traditional bow.

“I don’t know of a single instance involving a bow hunter during archery season when someone was hurt in the woods,” Gobi said. “I take my dog for a walk in the woods every day…and we’ve never had a problem.”

Oh well then, I guess it’s safe. I mean if it never happened to you personally it must never happen right?  And it’s not like your state is the most populated in New England or anything, or the third most densely populated in the nation, so I’m sure carrying around crossbow or shooting on Sundays won’t cause any problems for folks. Right?

Honestly,  that is the stupidest thing I have read in a long time. And you think adding crossbows is going to diversify the hunting population? I can’t understand why you think that’s a persuasive argument that makes sense. I suppose handing crossbows out to terrorists or hungry children would diversify it too. Is that really the goal?

I’m not the only one who thinks this is crazy. Here’s a nice letter to the editor this morning on the subject.

Letter: Let hunters go out on Saturdays, leave Sundays to non-hunters

Managing beavers and other wildlife doesn’t mean that we need to open up the state to fur trapping and Sunday hunting (“Bills introduced would allow hunting on Sunday,” Tuesday 10/10).

Sen. Gobi contends that some sportsmen don’t get licenses because they can only hunt on weekends. As a working mother, the only time my family gets to enjoy the outdoors together is on weekends as well. If hunters are given one day during the weekend to enjoy their recreation I think it’s only fair that families also have one day to take their dogs and little ones out in nature without worrying about wearing orange, explaining gunshots, or coming across hunted or trapped animals.

We enjoy seeing animals in their natural habitats, including beavers, which are an important keystone species. As expert engineers, they create habitat for other species and help improve water quality.

For those rare situations when humans and beavers come into conflict, there are plenty of humane, non-lethal, and cost effective solutions such as trunk guards, sanded paint, and fencing around tress as well as piping systems, fencing systems, and flow devices.

Trapping beavers is a temporary solution, removing one beaver from a desirable area only opens up that habitat for the next migrating beaver to occupy. In these instances, the trapping and killing of beavers must be repeated, ad nauseam.

Rather than trapping and killing beavers over and over again, as Sen. Gobi and others advocate, let’s pursue and continue to invent creative and humane solutions.

beaver powerMargaret Mulcahy

Excellently said, Margaret. You made so many excellent points in such a short space that I am happy to share your letter. And you did it all while being much more polite than I was. Of course Ms. Gobi won’t change her position, because obviously her opinions aren’t vulnerable to actual facts or the concerns of voters or anything. But I am proud of you, and beavers unanimously agree.

 

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Here at beaver central we don’t ask for much. A little appreciation for the ecosystem engineers and a little creativity by officials who encounter problems. Medicine Hat comes almost close to meeting our very reasonable demands. Solve problems FIRST before you kill beavers, is that so difficult?

Parks and rec tackles beaver issue

content_Medicine_Hat_NHLSBeavers are felling large trees in several areas of the city this year, and Medicine Hat Parks and Recreation staff are now actively engaged in a trapping program to prevent more damage, says David Genio, superintendent of parks maintenance at Medicine Hat parks and recreation.

“In some places we have had to use these control measures but we only use them as a last-resort option,” states Genio. “What parks and recreation normally does is try to protect the trees before it gets to a control-type of situation.

“We try to make them less appealing to the beavers. We are going out and actually putting metal wire around the trees to deter the beavers. And then anytime we plant new trees in the river valley, we attempt to plant less desirable trees for beavers, such as evergreens, oak, elm and ash, to reduce the beaver activity in that area.

“When there is significant damage like we are seeing now, once all other options to prevent this damage have been exhausted, then we will proceed with permissible control methods for beavers as outlined in the Wildlife Act.”

I’m really torn about this strategy. I certainly like when parks departments say trapping beavers is a “last resort”. And I like when they say they protect trees with wire instead of trapping. But I’m not really happy about planting new kinds of trees beavers won’t like. Oak and Elm won’t be very hardy when waters rise which obviously will happen. And why, oh why, are you “trying” to protect trees with wire? Why isn’t it succeeding?

Either the beavers of Alberta have learned how to use wire cutters or you’re doing it WRONG.

According to Genio, most of the beaver damage to date has occurred in the Harlow area, the Northwest Riverside trail area and around Strathcona Island and Lions Park. Genio says he hasn’t heard any reports of significant structural damage or personal injury as a result of the heightened beaver activity. He also says some beaver activity is normal and expected in the river valley area, but this year the beaver population has boomed, leading to the destruction seen in some areas of the city.

“Medicine Hat is an inviting destination for beavers with the South Saskatchewan River and its tributaries,” confirms Genio. “We have seen some more beaver activity this year than in recent years. It’s a very delicate balance between saving our urban forest and considering the well-being of the beavers.”

Okay that officially bugs me. No one is asking for you to “consider the well being of the beavers”, you condescending little pratt. What we’re asking you to do is weigh the considerable value that beavers add to your watershed and biodiversity and make reasonable responsible adjustments when you can.  Not pretend you tried and it didn’t work just to pacify the protestors.  Back in 2014 some very smart beaver advocates scared the spit out of Mr. Genio and he has learned to sound like he’s doing the right things. I would call this a necessary, but not sufficient step.

Apparently MH learned to wrap trees just enough to protect themselves from protestors. They still have zero idea how to keep beavers out.

Anyway, you’re going to plant trees that beavers don’t like so they stay away? You do realize that medicine Hat is surrounded by a long beaver highway, right? You are ALWAYS going to have them passing through.

Even if you surround your parks with only cactus.

medicine

 

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One of my favorite segments of Sesame Street when I was a child wasn’t cookie monster or oscar the grouch. It was the silly attention Bert paid to pigeons, treating them as if they mattered and were worth attending to.  He collected jokes and stories about them and even watched a favorite media segment called in an echoing broadcaster voice saying “Pigeons In The News!“.

I can’t imagine why that pops into my head now.

There’s local beaver business to report first. Our two little dams near Susanna Street were ripped out last week by Wednesday morning. I’m not sure by whom, but Moses left a note on my door when we got home from vacation, and when we went to look it was sure enough torn out, although not by heavy equipment. No word on what happened to our beavers but I have contacted folks to find out.

Stay Tuned!

Also I got an email from our old friend Glenn Hori who used to photograph the Martinez Beavers and spied a beaver dam in Concord near 680 and Willow Pass Rd. He couldn’t get a glimpse of actual beavers last night but that lovely dam isn’t maintaining itself.

FullSizeRender
Concord Beaver Dam: Photo By Glenn Hori

This is right near the Willows so one images the name might have attracted them?

Meanwhile newslines are abuzz this morning with the story of valiant beavers being brought in to save English cities from flooding. I always get nervous when beaver promises are made, but we better just enjoy this while it lasts.

English town enlists beavers to prevent floods

In 2012, the center of Lydbrook, a village skirting the Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire, England, was deluged with several feet of water. The flash flooding, unleashed by torrential rainfall across the region, sparked a mandatory evacuation and left badly damaged homes and businesses in its wake.

This wasn’t the first time this bucolic burg has been devastated by rapidly rising waters. Nestled between the River Wye and one of its tributaries, the flood-prone Greathough Brook, Lydbrook and surrounding parishes in the Wye Valley have long been vulnerable to inundation. In 2015, villagers collectively breathed a sigh of relief when it was announced that a section of an aging culvert meant to tame the flow of water through the village would be replaced as part of a flood defense overhaul costing 290,000 pounds (nearly $400,000).

 Now, two years later, the Forestry Commission has decided to bring in the big guns to further prevent flooding: beavers.

As the Guardian reports, a scheme to release a family of Eurasian beavers within an enclosed area at Greathough Brook has been embraced enthusiastically by villagers and, most importantly, received a governmental go-ahead despite one report that it was blocked by a minister at the Department of Environmental, Food and Rural Affairs.

The idea is that once released, the clan of industrious semiaquatic rodents will get to work doing what they do best: constructing an intricate network of dams, ponds and canals that, in this instance, will slow the flow of Greathough Brook and prevent upwards of 6,000 cubic meters (1.6 million gallons) of water from rushing into the valley-bound village below.

While a qualified team of engineers that don’t have webbed hind feet could be brought in to dam the stream, the beaver is, well, cheaper and can get the job done in a swifter and less intrusive manner.

What’s more, there’s the chance that the beavers’ presence could be a boon for eco-tourism in the region as the animals, hunted into extinction across Britain and now being strategically released back into the wild, are still a relatively rare sight. A village that’s reintroduced beavers and put them to work to help prevent catastrophic flooding certainly could draw wildlife lovers to this sleepy northwestern section of the Forest of Dean.

Here’s a nice look at the Devon beavers from back in 2012. I shared this 5 years ago but it’s worth watching again.

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