Archive for the ‘Who’s Killing Beavers Now?’ Category

6825195-large[1]English beavers face wipe-out for the second time at the hands of humans

Wildlife ‘control’ could mean the beaver is lost from the English landscape before it gets re-established. Beaver expert Derek Gow mourns its likely passing.

 As the beaver families on the River Otter snuggle together today in their cosy nests of shredded willow they cannot conceive that they are about to participate in a remarkable historic event.

At the beginning of the 21st century, in the time if the “greenest Government ever” their removal at the hand of Defra’s trappers will ensure that they become the first ever native English mammal to have been exterminated by humans twice.

 I should have known better to be hopeful about the broadly-attended public meeting in Devon. I should have realized that the fact that DEFRA didn’t bother to be there spoke volumes. This article does an amazing job of targeting their asymmetrical illogic point by point and concludes that in this instance facts and public opinion and economics don’t matter.


Children and senior citizens, students and business men stood up at the end of the presentations to state their wish to see the beavers remain. Letters of support from farmers who could not attend were read out by councillors.

 Many people cited their appeal as a tourist attraction, others pointed out the hypocrisy of our national position whereby we lecture others on the conservation of threatened species such as tigers or elephants while making no effort to restore our own depleted wildlife. At the end of the evening a show of hands was unanimous in its support for the retention of the beavers on the River Otter.

 Defra did not attend the event. On the same day their field staff were collecting from Scotland the traps they require to remove the Devon beavers. To date despite considerable media attention, representations to senior civil servants and ministers, national petitions which have attracted over 30,000 signatures and the clear will of the local community they have made no effort to attain or consider a balanced approach on this issue.

 Did you catch that?  While the citizens of Devon were bravely assembled to talk about beaver benefits and problem-solving, bright-eyed children and craggy old farmers and gray haired dears all coming together to talk about making Devon a better place, DEFRA in their infinite badger-killing wisdom was getting ready the beaver traps. The deceptions of a certain Grinch spring to mind.

And when Cindy Loo Hoo went to bed with her cup.
He went to the chimney and stuffed the tree up.

This makes even a battle-scared rodeo clown like me feel sad and hopeless. It’s hard to believe that Devon could do everything right, the  meeting, the science, the overseeing trust, the media, the farmers, the school children, the shop owners, and it doesn’t matter at all because DEFRA will do whatever the fuck it wants to do. No matter what.

Did mention this is depressing?

In Texas?

Posted by heidi08 On August - 15 - 2014Comments Off

Beavers trapped, relocated from Keller neighborhood

The beavers had dammed up a creek in the northwest Keller subdivision of Marshall Ridge, and for about six months, when it has rained, the creek overflows into yards and sidewalks.

 So a manager of the development, whose website promotes wildlife, saying Marshall Ridge is home to a “number of animals native to the area,” contacted Plano-based A Wildlife Pro DFW to trap and move the beavers to a human-free environment.

  ‘Animals have feelings’

 Fink said she checks the traps twice a day. Beavers typically work more at night and once they are captured, Evans will move the animal the next morning.

 “The traps you want to use for them are big enough for a person to fit in,” Evans said. “You have to have some room for them to move around and fit comfortably so they’re not struggling as hard to get out and hurt themselves.”

I don’t mean to be state-ist or whatever, but this actually surprised me coming from Texas which isn’t exactly known for it’s beaver compassion. Beavers  have feelings? And it’s better to relocate than trap? But these took the prize for the most unexpected paragraphs of 2014.

 Prudi Koeninger, president of DFW Wildlife Coalition, a nonprofit whose mission “is to reduce … the incidence of orphaned or euthanized native wildlife” in DFW, said capturing and moving isn’t always the best option for beavers.

 “Most of the time you don’t get the whole family, so they’re separated,” Koeninger said. “Beavers become independent at age 2, and before that the whole family takes care of the babies. Animals have feelings, family and commitments just as humans do, and there’s emotion if they lose a member of that family.”

 Koeninger said one option for coexisting with beavers is to create a “beaver deceiver,” a device that uses PVC pipes to route water underneath dams in whatever direction the community needs.

 “What beavers respond to is the trickling of water,” she said. “If you create a pathway underneath where there’s no trickling, you can get it flowing the way you want and the beaver will have no reason to keep working on the dam.”

 Some wildlife companies also offer a kind of color-matching “tree paint” mixed with sand that deters beavers from eating the bark and prevents trees being torn down. surprised-child-skippy-jon

Remember that DFW is Dallas Fort Worth wildlife rescue, the director of whom I had a long phone conversation in June when beavers were unwelcome in Irving. Which just goes to show you should always take time to try even when the odds of success seem bleak. The Irving beavers couldn’t be protected, but DFW really listened to info about beavers and co-existence. Which made them great communicators to the reporter of this article who actually did a stellar job.

Maybe next time the beavers can stay?


And on our less-humane-than-Texas end of the spectrum you might check out this proud announcement of the new orphan arrived at Turtle Bay in our own state of California.


The weird part of this is, with the depredation permits we just got, I can see that if this kit is 7 weeks old in Redding that probably means the warrant that killed his parents looked like this:

Shasta Redding Crop/Landscape/Garden Damage (Landscape trees) # allowed = 2trapped by Bob Hassel permit issued by Pete Figura 6/23/2014.

You might want to save this somewhere in case he ever asks about his mom or Dad when he grows up.

A Dissertation of Death

Posted by heidi08 On August - 10 - 2014Comments Off

CaptureSo yesterday morning our Napa Beaver friend RE sent me the results of her public records request from Fish and Game. She was trying to figure out if any depredation permits had been taken in Napa County, but of course that’s not the way bureaucracy works. So they gave her a pile of all the depredation permits in the state of California from 1-2013 to 8-8-2014. They are actually organized unhelpfully by the last name of the person who obtained the permit.

Robin, Jon and I spent yesterday going through the records and making a spread sheet so that we could see what was issued where, by whom, for how many beavers, and because of what problem. It was a horrible, grisly, unpleasant day, so you have to forgive me if I am more sarcastic than usual. Remember that Depredation permits can be issued for 1-2 beavers or for an unlimited number, for a few weeks or for the whole year or more. But what we learned is that the VAST majority are issued for an unlimited number of beavers to be taken during the span of an entire year. I’m putting the finished list online here by county.

Counties in CA by Number of Depredation Permits Given 1-01-13 to 8-8-14

Alpine 4
Amador 1
Butte 8
Calaveras 1
Colusa 6
Contra Costa 18
El Dorado 9
Glenn 4
Lake 2
Lassen 5
Merced 13
Modoc 6
Napa 2
Nevada 7
Placer 50
Plumas 8
Sacramento 30
San Joaquin 8
Shasta 12
Sierra County 3
Solano 7
Sonoma 3
Stanislaus 3
Sutter 13
Tehama 5
Yolo 19
Yuba 7
Total 254

Before you turn your head away in horror, pause for a moment at the staggering number of permits issued in Placer county: FIFTY in all, each for a year and only 9 of which had any limit at all to the number of beavers that could be taken. This, for a county which is only 1500 square miles – fewer than 100 of which are water.How could this be?

I have a theory.

Remember that the county seat of Placer county is Auburn, where our long standing nemesis recently gave her umpteenth presentation on how bad beavers are – I’m referring of course to Mary Tappel who long ago took time out of her busy beaver-killing schedule to come all this way to try and get Martinez to kill ours. I know she recently presented at the Salmon meeting because someone from Fish and Wildlife who was there wrote me and said in disbelief, wow, there was this woman there who was soooo negative about beavers!  And when I looked at the schedule I knew who it was. I’m thinking Mary’s done many presentations in Placer county and her icy fingers have pushed the kill permits for thousands of beavers.

August 26, SARSAS 2013, Beaver Specialist Mary Tappel, “Beaver Management in the Age of Salmonid Restoration with Focus on Beavers in Auburn Ravine”

In case your a visual person, here’s the county count. There were no permits issued for Southern California in the records we received, but the woman who released the data did say that the department is in the process of transitioning to electronic files, so some lovingly hand-written death warrants may not be included. I’m sure Fresno killed some beavers. They always do, so maybe they aren’t using computers yet?

by county


Wow. Since the highest number of specified beavers issued in a permit was 50, that must mean UNLIMITED is >50. So if the total number of beavers listed to be killed is added up with that change the number for just Northern CA is at least 7958.




England, get ready to YOP!

Posted by heidi08 On August - 7 - 2014Comments Off

Public meeting over Devon’s first wild beaver family in 300 years

A PUBLIC meeting is being held in Devon to ask local people their views about the future of the first wild beaver population in more than 300 years.

 In July, Defra announced its intention to catch and remove the beavers, citing the risk of disease and the animals’ potential impact on the landscape as reasons.

 However, a growing number of voices have stated that the beavers should remain; saying that beavers were once a part of the English landscape and that they could be again.

 The meeting to discuss the beavers on Tuesday August 19 will be held at The Institute in the east Devon town of Ottery St Mary (EX11 1HD), close to where the beavers are believed to be living on the River Otter.

4d3ac5e6I’m curious why DEFRA, the harshly tone-deaf agency that is willing to kill badgers that the public reveres, has decided to hold a public meeting on the fate of the beavers they already said they would put in zoos? Even I, with my trusting beaver nature, can’t imagine the decision is open for review. But maybe they were scared at the public response they got. Or maybe they hope no one is going to come and thereby justify their decision?

You can guess what I want to happen.

Worth A Dam from Bill Schilz on Vimeo.

(I’m very grateful to Bill Schilz for making this for us. It’s a terrifyingly large file and I never could process it myself.) The odd thing is that my comment is missing! Coincidence? Hmm…

 Devon Wildlife Trust’s Steve Hussey urged people to attend the specially convened meeting: “The wild beavers on the River Otter have certainly attracted a lot of attention. We’ve had media interest from as far away as New Zealand and the USA wanting to know what their fate will be. This event is the opportunity for the local community to now make their views known.”

 Steve continued: “We need to hear from people whether they think the beavers should remain as part of their local landscape, or whether they think they should be removed.”

  “We want the event to be a chance for people to ask questions and to tell us their views. As an independent charity working for the county’s wildlife, Devon Wildlife Trust thinks the beavers should remain but only after it’s been established if they are disease free, and only if the local community wants them there. This event will help us get an answer to the second of these two questions,” Steve continued.

 The event is free to attend and there is no need to book in advance. Those unable to attend can still give their opinions using the dedicated email address or by letter to Devon Wildlife Trust, Cricklepit Mill, Exeter, Devon, EX2 4AB.

Now Devon, you know your lines. And readers of this website, your letters go here. I believe you all know what to do!

(Does anyone else almost feel a little sorry for DEFRA?)

On a separate note, I have another interview with Fur-bearer Defender’s Radio this afternoon on the role of anger and compassion in advocacy. It’s the first time I’ve talked like a shrink about beavers (well, on purpose), so it’s a little weird and worlds-collidy. Wish me luck!

I’m thinking of calling it the “Psychology of Ecology.

Beavers make Strange Bedfellows

Posted by heidi08 On July - 27 - 20142 COMMENTS

Let’s start with a word from duck hunters. Now everyone I’ve shared this with has reacted with a “let the ducks live” remark, but you have to realize the pragmatic value of articles like this. Right now we need ALL the beaver supporters we can muster, so if people let them be because they want more fish to catch or ducks to shoot, we should realize that they’re still allies. Beavers make strange bedfellows.

Ducks in Small Places

Matt Gnatkowski

 One of the best friends of hunters who like to hunt ducks in small places is the beaver. Industrious beavers create a lot of ponds and sloughs that make for perfect out-of-the-way duck habitat. Mallards, wood ducks and black ducks like using the flooded timber created by beavers. To find these duck hotspots you need to scout constantly. Keep track of where you see beaver activity during grouse hunting trips, during the bow or rifle deer seasons or when snowmobiling, and make it a point to visit them during the waterfowl season. If ducks aren’t using the ponds when you arrive, wait until evening. Many times the birds will be off feeding elsewhere and return to roost on the pond toward evening. The sky can be full of birds as the sun slips behind the horizon.

 Wildlife biologists can steer you toward areas that have high beaver numbers. Talk to hunters, trappers and anglers who might be able to lead you to beaver ponds. If practical, you might want to even rent an airplane for a short jaunt around areas of beaver activity to pinpoint ponds. Beavers can create a lot of small-water duck havens in a short period of time. Where there was only a trickle of water today can be a pond of several acres tomorrow. And it won’t take long for the ducks to find it.

Let’s face it. Duck hunters have more powerful friends then we do. They have magazines and sponsors and legislation and fawning politicians. And would it be so horrible if more duck hunters made the intuitive leap to realize that fewer beavers mean fewer ducks? No, it would not. I realized when I read Three Against the Wilderness that wise hunters and trappers could be among our best allies -  once they got the message. And in order for that to happen we need to stop being mortified enough to talk to them.

Consider this website de-mortification training.

(It’s a strange thing to be realizing in the same day that duck hunters help beavers and the Nature Conservancy kills them. But there it is. Life is full of surprises.)

On to Whidby Island in Washington State where so many folks are fond of beavers they don’t know what to do with them.

A beaver lodge sits at the southern edge of Miller Lake, about 30 yards from a beaver dam. Lake levels are on the rise, and along with other impacts, are raising concern among South Whidbey residents.
— image credit: Justin Burnett / The Record

 Whidbey’s beaver population: residents chew on problem, seek county help

 “When there’s nature and people, you have to come up with solutions,” Kay said.

 In some cases, however, beavers have won friends. A population at Miller Lake is credited with vastly expanding the lake, but also creating water views. For Bob Olin, the edge of his backyard that borders the lake was once dominated by poplar and willow trees. They are all now long gone.

 “There were 10,000 of them right out there,” said Olin, motioning to his backyard.  “No, I’m quite happy with the beaver,” he added.

 Jamie Hartley, critical areas planner for Island County, said county code defers to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife for its guidelines. The state allows residents to shoot or relocate beavers as a last resort to other types of mitigations, including the installation of culverts or beaver deceivers.

Steve Erickson, with the Whidbey Environmental Action Network, said that shooting or trapping the occasional beaver is not going to really impact the population. However, farmers need to learn to deal with changing conditions and coexist with the beaver population.

 “The idea of a pretty farm where it’s all static and never going to change is a fantasy,” Erickson said. “People are going to need to change the way they are dealing with nature and work with it.”

 And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why Washington is the most beaver-intelligent state in the nation – maybe world. Apropos of nothing, the beaver friendly Whiby website “Tidallife” has our website in their blogroll and it’s how we get a significant number of visitors every month.

Now back to Devon, where musician Adrian Forester has this to say about the River Otter beavers.

CaptureI’m trying a new spam filter on comments this morning, and it appears to be working. Every day we get about 20 comments that I have to weed through from spam-bots telling me to buy sexual aids or that my site could get more hits if I did X.

Help me try it out by leaving a comment, will you?

Every day, from here to there, Beaver things are everywhere.

Posted by heidi08 On July - 24 - 2014Comments Off

There is glorious news this morning, but before we appreciate its warm glow we need to pay attention to this bit of horrific gristle from Calgary. Mind you this is about 300 miles south of renown beaver researcher Dr. Glynnis Hood, 400 miles west of experienced flow device-installer Adrien Nelson and Fur-Bearer Defenders, and 500 miles north of beaver management expert Amy Chadwick of Montana. Calgary is surrounded by intelligence, but it apparently just isn’t sinking in.

Animal lover furious after beaver found trapped in Calgary park

CALGARY- An animal lover who came across a disturbing scene in a popular park has gone straight to the city to complain.

 Linda Lelonde says she and her husband were walking in Fish Creek Park on Tuesday evening, when they came across a beaver struggling in a trap.

 “I just happened to see the beaver laying in the grass in the ditch, and I said to my husband ‘something’s wrong, his tail is flapping.’”

 A jogger happened to come by moments later, and that’s when they realized the animal was in trouble.

 “[He] came up and was horrified, and told us [the beaver] was biting off his leg and was basically bleeding to death,” Lalonde remembers.

It’s not known if the beaver survived, as it was not in the trap when city workers showed up to collect it.

Why are city workers checking the trap anyway? Isn’t that the trappers job? Are you saying the city workers set the trap? That’s a horrifying thought. No offense, but I would have night mares if someone gave public works in Martinez a conibear. Are there any trapping regulations in Alberta at all? The article goes on to say that the beaver was blocking the culvert and baby strollers could have been blocked on the path if they didn’t do something. No, they didn’t think of installing a culvert protection fence, why do you ask?

The good news is that it was a sufficiently horrifying demonstration of trapping that folks are upset and there are many comments and a lot of interest in alternatives with the article. Keep at it Calgary. You’ll get there if enough people worry about their pets to push for change. And when your ready to change, we’ll help you get started.

Speaking of which, this new film of Urban Beavers was made by Daniel Pinker, Americorp intern for the Gresham Department of Environmental Services, just east of Portland. danielsDaniel wrote me a while ago asking if I might be willing to share footage of urban beavers for a film he was working on about beavers in cities. I’m sure you can guess what I answered.

This is an excellent place for my footage to be, but I had to fight waves of territorial reflex when I first watched it, especially dad coming over the primary with kit, and the tiny kit glimpsed in 2012. (They were such emotional moments after mom died!)

But it’s impossible (even for me) not to share with such an enormously pro-beaver message. This is really effective work. I only wish the film specifically said “Cities can live with beavers, in fact all the images you are watching happen to be  from one smart city that DID”.  I want this played at every city council meeting along the pacific states. And Daniel was very nice to add this.
more creditIt’s 1,274 miles from Calgary to Martinez. But you spanned the distance  this morning with a few short sentences.

Thank goodness we got those beavers out!

Posted by heidi08 On July - 20 - 20146 COMMENTS

Trout restoration pays off in Oxford’s Barber’s Hollow Brook

Environmental consultant Glenn E. Krevosky measures the water temperature of Barber’s Hollow Brook near Prince Road in Oxford. (T&G Staff/PAUL KAPTEYN)

OXFORD — The 13, 3-inch Eastern brook trout swimming at the bottom of the bucket provided all the proof he needed.

 Eight months ago Glenn E. Krevosky of EBT Environmental Consultants Inc. knelt beside a stone-faced, groundwater-fed incubator he built off Prince Street, and placed 400 Eastern brook trout eggs into a gravel nest.

 Mr. Krevosky said he was fortunate that the one obstacle he didn’t have to face was the work of beavers in creating impoundments that would slow the stream flow, raise the water temperature and reduce clarity.

 ”The stream temperature is constant and the reduced flow is to be expected during the summer months. A stream temperature that doesn’t spike from the heat of summer storm road runoff, and a steady flow across a gravel and cobble stream bottom are essential for trout,” he said.

 He explained that in addition to temperature and sediment concerns from storm runoff, Barber’s Hollow Brook water quality for coldwater fish species had become compromised by beaver dams and invasive aquatic plant species.

Thank goodness Mr. K. was able to hatch those fish without all those pesky beaver dams around. Now the fry will have plenty of fin-room to swim around in – certainly there won’t be as many of those award multi-legged BUGS taking up their space.

One  wonders what the precious fish will eat?

But never mind. Mr. K. is committed to his beaverless streams and his factless theories. He’s so committed that I’ve written him two other times in the past six years. The first was in 2009 when he was famously referenced as an expert in the great case of the “invasive purple loosestrife” – for which he blamed (who else) beavers.

Trouble is, no one really wants to eat it, it’s hard to pull up, it survives horrific conditions, and it ruins things for the shoreline critters. There’s some effort to introduce a beetle that is controlling it naturally (how could that possibly go wrong?) but in the mean time, guess who the great state of Massachusetts has decided to blame?


Remember, this is a state that outlawed cruel traps in 1996, and has been whining about it since the moment the bill was signed.  Massachusetts bemoans the change and says that their population has increased by 60,000 beavers since the law was passed.

Are you following me? Because there are more beavers, there are more wetlands, and (insert horror music here) more pernicious purple loosestrife!

Goodness I have been in this beaver biz a long time. I can’t believe I recognized him right away. I wonder if Mr. Krevosky knows about me? Or if I have any kind of starring role in his nightmares? Well, he abandoned the loosestrife meme fairly quickly, and marched boldly into water temperature by 2013. I actually wrote one of my favorite  columns EVER about it.

Urban Legends of Beavers

 Do you remember that story, back in fourth of fifth grade, you heard at a sleepover with friends? Two of the friends you had known since 2nd grade but one girl was someone else’s friend, or neighbor, or cousin and she was rumored to have slightly more street cred on account of her parents were divorced, or her mother had died, or her brother was in jail. And when the last pizza had been eaten and all the lights were out and you were huddled in sleeping bags on the living room rug or the back yard, she started with that spooky story in that absolutely chilling and unforgettable voice:

 “Who stole my golden arm?”

 And of course, even at 10, you knew the story was impossible and that ghosts weren’t real and that even if they were people don’t ever make arms out of solid gold, and you might have mumbled so all the way through at intervals but once Elvira leaped from the grave and shouted “YOU GOT IT!” and that terrifying story was over you couldn’t wait to think about who you were going to tell it to next. All the other kids must have too because pretty soon the story was all over school and was starting to get little adjustments, like the woman had been murdered for her golden arm, or it was actually a golden leg. It was a self-reproducing meme that was perpetuating itself like a virus through the primary grades. And even today, just saying the words has a kind of ring to it, and you can remember something of that chill. And it doesn’t matter whether its true, because its not that kind of story.

 Which brings us naturally to the topic of beaver dams, water temperature and fish.

I like writing about beavers best when I can figure out a way to make the topic seem absolutely relevant to your life. Then after a nice populist intro I can throw in the science I need to back it up and wrap the whole thing up with a bow. That column I buttressed with Michael Pollock’s breathtaking graphs on stream temperature and hyporheic exchange at beaver dams. I guess Mr. K. never read it. Or read it with his eyes closed.

I’m reminded of the quote at the end of Rick Lanman’s emails.

“A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong, gives it a superficial appearance of being right, and raises at first a formidable outcry in defense of custom.”
- Thomas Paine

 Just remember, the arc of ecology is long, but it bends towards beavers.