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

Beaver wanderings

Posted by heidi08 On March - 25 - 2016Comments Off on Beaver wanderings

Yesterday was the Pinole Rotary event. They gave us a tasty lunch at Pear Street Bistro while I talked Martinez beavers to them and tried to prepare them for the inevitable beaver visit coming their way. They were very positive and receptive, so I’m hopeful that solutions will cross their minds when beavers tentatively set their paws in Pinole Creek. One cheerful listener even sang the beaver fight song from his alma mater.

pinoleThen I came home and found out that Queequeg wears a beaver hat!

Allow me to explain. My youthful self did lots of reading things like Shakespeare and Dostoyevsky, but I never got around to reading more American classics like that famous impossible quest tale of Moby Dick.  Probably because whaling was ‘icky’ or some other such reason.

Just by chance on facebook the other day I noticed that they had just finished the complete audio of Melvil’s seminal work, with every chapter read in its entirety by people like Stephen Fry and Tilda Swinton, so I thought, that would be a fun way to fill the gap, and tried it out.

I’m up to chapter for when the narrator unwillingly finds himself sharing a bed at the Spouter Inn with a terrifying painted ‘savage’ who turns out to be not so scary. This is Queequeg, a Mowry kind of tattoed harpoonist who has earned enough at sea to have a few prized civilized possessions. Chief among them is his BEAVER HAT which in the morning he puts on first, long before his actual pants, to show he is fully committed to American life.

Now Moby Dick was written in 1851, when the fur trade had begun to tank. The beaver hat was out of fashion in Europe, and the silk hat was becoming all the rage. Perfect timing because they had killed all the beavers everywhere in Europe centuries ago, and now even Canada and America (including California, the last hold out). Silk ascended, or was adopted, just in time. The same way in which you pretend you like something better when you know you’re never getting the original back. Queequeg proudly wears his top hat in the same way that we might proudly display a rotary phone or one of those a deep square TV sets. Progress has moved on. Even when he catches on he’s already behind.
CaptureIn case you want to enjoy your own rediscovery, the chapters are here:


Beaver trapping wins Oscar

Posted by heidi08 On February - 29 - 2016Comments Off on Beaver trapping wins Oscar

Last night, Leonardo accepted an academy award to a standing ovation for his apparently unforgettable role as Hugh Glass, a member of the Andrew Henry fur brigade filling the coffers of the Rocky Mountain Fur Company. When they weren’t busy abandoning one of their crew to a grizzly bear, the brigade trapped all the beavers on the Missouri and Yellowstone Rivers. They even worked with the unfortunately named “Beaver Dick” out of Idaho. When they were no beaver left to trap, the enterprising Mr. Henry went into lead mining and bullet manufacture.

Because honestly, after you killed all the members of one species, why not try to eliminate the other?

When I try to imagine the ruthless arms race of the beaver industry, I am shocked until I remember the similar mad pursuit of gold in California, or coal in West Virginia, or oil and titanium everywhere. The American way is to use up all you can of a resource with no thought for your children or grandchildren.  The only warning is to do it FAST before your fellow man gets it instead of you. The “explorers” of early America were basically children on a grand Easter egg hunt. I don’t believe that most had any grand curiosity or wish to map the west. The only reason they looked over that vale or up that river was because the ones closer to them were all trapped out.

I’m not sure anyone really believed it was possible to eliminate the beaver, even though their ancestors had already done it in Europe and England.  Obviously, the idea that you could wipe out an entire species never mattered to the fur trade – and never mattered to America in general. It’s not like we were taught as children to find the Easter eggs as quickly as possible but not to make sure and leave two behind so they could grow up and foster the race of eggs for next year.

We were taught to get all the eggs, because there will always be more eggs, more trees, more water, more natural gas, more beavers. It’s the American Way. And when the last Grizzly was killed in California and the last Passenger pigeon was shot out of the sky no one really believed it was the last. Until ample time passed and people realized they could see no more. And by then – so much time had passed – that  no one really believed they had ever existed in the first place.

It’s the American Way.

“Immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been [fish] scales”

Posted by heidi08 On January - 17 - 2016Comments Off on “Immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been [fish] scales”

Trout & BeaverBelieve it or not, this is actually good news out of Minnesota -even though it’s still bad news. The fact that their draconian plan is getting some in state opposition is a fine reason to celebrate. I would quote the good bits of the article, but the reporter has asked me not too. Follow this link to go read it for yourself.

Dam debate on the Knife River

In ten years of reporting on the nonsense in Minnesota I have never read an article that describes the slightest hint of a whiff of controversy about their crazy science-resistant plan. I as happy as I can possibly be. This is  day for the history books.

Hmm. The 2016 Lake Superior Fish Management  update is a long way from finished but they will take public comment and you can read the 2006 version here. It’s not too early to send some pearls of wisdom. I’m especially interested in the author of this article, Sam Cook, because he’s starting to read the writing on the wall. In the mean time let’s just bask in a moment that doesn’t come along every day. And remember what Gandhi said:

First they ignore you.
Then they laugh at you.
Then they fight with you.
Then you win.

Oh and we’ve settled on the art project for this years beaver festival. A child painted lodge. Here’s the basic idea. Isn’t the one on the left an awesome example?

beaver lodge


How common were urban beaver issues in 2015?

Posted by heidi08 On January - 1 - 2016Comments Off on How common were urban beaver issues in 2015?

This common:

2015 urban beaver figI updated the tallies this morning to reflect activity since November. We added New Mexico, Louisiana and Kentucky. Bringing our state total to 39. This means only 11 states in the country managed to avoid having beaver issues in urban areas last year. And one of them was Hawaii.

That makes our urban beaver chapter pretty relevant. Don’t you think?

I have a beautiful gift to start the new year right, a quirky treat from the ages, and a lovely welcome to the annum from Napa. I’ll start with the schadenfreude because that’s just the kind of woman I am. This stories so good it needed a soundtrack.

Damaging dams nets fines

Three North Bay men have been fined a total of $3,000 for damaging beaver dams in the North RBay, Powassan and Mattawa areas using all-terrain vehicles (ATVs).

Court heard that ministry conservation officers received information about online videos and rich beaverphotographs showing individuals using their ATVs to damage beaver dams. With the assistance of the ministry’s intelligence unit, the videos were located and the ATV riders were identified. The videos showed the ATV riders driving on the beaver dams and spinning their tires. This caused the dams to open up, which allowed large volumes of fast-flowing water to flood and wash out the trails and surrounding area.

Each man was fined $1,000.

Did you get that? A three thousand dollar fine for riding those horrible atv’s over a beaver dam, which caused a washout and flooded some homes. I’m sure this maple leaf of  justice couldn’t happen to a nicer trio. Honestly, that photo really did appear with the article. (I just added a few finishing touches.)

The public is reminded that it is an offence to damage or destroy a beaver dam without the ministry’s authorization. Destroying a beaver dam can cause flooding, property damage, public safety concerns and fish and wildlife habitat damage. The ministry encourages the public to use public lands respectfully and responsibly so that they are preserved for future generations.

Oh Canada!

Now for some follow-up to the beaver flinging story, which you will remember because every single person you ever met probably sent you the article. Seems a man who consigned one of those beavers to his fate heard the article and wanted to reminisce.

One Man Remembers Meeting Some Of Idaho’s Parachuting Beavers

Finally some Napa goodness that won’t impair your judgment or lighten your wallet. Robin Ellison filmed this last night at the Tulocay Beaver pond when she was payed a visit by one of their six month old kits. Remember the most adorable birth defect ever? Check out that curling tail.

Flooding is publicly subsidized

Posted by heidi08 On December - 30 - 2015Comments Off on Flooding is publicly subsidized

What a great article about the flooding in England from George Monbiot. It could just as easily apply to the Missouri floods, or whatever comes next.

This flood was not only foretold – it was publicly subsidised

These floods were not just predictable; they were predicted. There were clear and specific warnings that the management of land upstream of the towns now featuring in the news would lead to disaster. By straightening, embanking and dredging rivers where they cut through fields, the boards accelerate the flow of water, making flooding downstream more likely. When heavy rain falls, some land must flood. We have a choice: fields or cities. And all over Britain, we have chosen badly.

Farm subsidies everywhere are conditional on the land being in “agricultural condition”. This does not mean any actual farming has to take place there – only that it looks like farmland. Any land covered by “permanent ineligible features” is disqualified. What does this mean? Wildlife habitat. If farmers don’t keep the hills bare, they don’t get their money. Scrub, regenerating woodland, forested gullies, ponds and other features that harbour wildlife and hold back water must be cleared. European rules insist that we pay farmers to help flood our homes.

Building higher walls will not, by itself, protect our towns. We need flood prevention as well as flood defence. This means woodland and functioning bogs on the hills. It means dead wood and gravel banks and other such obstructions in the upper reaches of the streams (beavers will do such work for nothing). It means pulling down embankments to reconnect rivers to their floodplains, flooding fields instead of towns. It means allowing rivers to meander and braid. It means creating buffer zones around their banks: places where trees, shrubs, reeds and long grass are allowed to grow, providing what engineers call hydraulic roughness. It means the opposite of the orgy of self-destruction that decades of government and European policy have encouraged: grazing, mowing, burning, draining, canalisation and dredging.

So nicely said, at exactly the right pitch and time. Thanks Mr. Monbiot. Now if only people were half as worried about what’s going on with their waterways as the are with their roadways, we might get somewhere. You know, like instead of traffic reports every 15 minutes they had watershed updates, and helicopters reporting on seepage? Go read the whole article and think about every straight creek you have ever seen as a terrible scar on the land or a horrifying dystopian view of the future. Beavers could help, if we let them.

Here’s yet another example of how we fail to let them.

Towns to discuss mosquito control budget

NORTHBOROUGH – Central Massachusetts Mosquito Control Project officials will meet with representatives from the program’s 40 member towns next month to discuss the organization’s proposed $2.1 million fiscal 2017 budget.

The project provides surveillance to determine the degree of a mosquito population in a community, spraying only after pre-determined thresholds are exceeded. The agency also maintains ditches to avoid stagnant water and has a new program to remove tires which can become breeding grounds.

The organization also runs a program to breach beaver dams, which cause rivers and streams to become stagnant and attract mosquitoes.

“They’ve been very helpful the past five to seven years with that,” Mark Oram, Ashland Board of Health director, said of the beaver dam program.

Holliston Health Agent Scott Moles characterized the town’s fiscal 2017 assessment of $53,701 as money well-spent.

Now I don’t know much about the mob, or how protection money works, but that sure sounds like a racket to me. “Lovely stream you got here, gentlemen. Shame if something were to happen to it, like a mosquito infestation for example“. Give us the cash or West Nile will kill your grand babies. Never mind that beaver ponds are notoriously FULL OF FISH that happily eat mosquito larvae for free. And that ponds are surrouded by birds and bats that will happily clean up any mosquitoes that survive to adulthood. The mosquito control takes money for destroying the dams and letting all the fish escape, so people keep forking over the cash and never know any better. Hmm.

Out with a bang

Posted by heidi08 On December - 29 - 2015Comments Off on Out with a bang

Beaver death sparks fear over festive fireworks

After some children killed a beaver with a firecracker near Berlin, animal protectionists called for people celebrate new year without using fireworks.

“Setting off fireworks is not only incredibly bad for the environment, it is also incredibly unsettling for animals,” Hubert Weiger from the Nature Protection Society said on Monday.

While he said he had every sympathy for people wanting to celebrate the New Year”, Weiger advised people “not to waste your money on fireworks.”

Saying that people would be better donating their money to refugees, the animals rights activist said “there are already enough explosions in the world”. The calls came after a six-month-old beaver was killed on the outskirts of Berlin at the weekend when a group of children threw a firecracker into a pond.

The protected animal’s eardrum was perforated by the underwater explosion and it then drowned after suffering from shock, the Nature Protection Society said.

I’m so conflicted about this article. I hate seeing the photo of the dead beaver. I love reading that beavers are protected in Berlin. I hate reading some animal rights activist being used as a mouth piece to prevent fireworks, which the government has already been asking for already because of terror scares. I actually don’t personally like fireworks, but honestly animal rights activists are pretty despised already. Adding ‘no fireworks’ to the list is not going to improve their standing.

The strongest feeling, though, is that something about this story just feels wrong. Do beavers even have eardrums? Why didn’t the other beavers in his family also die from the loud disorienting noise? How do they know children threw in fireworks? I can’t find any other articles about the rascals being caught red-handed. Was there a necropsy performed on that beaver to show its ruptured ear drum? The results are in really fast if these were new year’s fireworks?

I am, of course, particularly interested because our own kit 2 & 3 died right after the fourth of July. We did worry about fireworks, but more about the chemical residue they leave in the water washing upstream with the high tide. Our kits didn’t drown, and no one said anything about a ruptured ear drum. But I’m going to keep asking questions.


On a brighter note this video is making the rounds again this morning, and well worth sharing. I told Rusty to get up early in April and film that lodge in Napa because this is going to be happening there too.




The Kids alright

Posted by heidi08 On December - 23 - 2015Comments Off on The Kids alright

Or should I say “Kit’s”?


“Gave proof through the night, that our beavers were still there.”

Picture proves beavers still thriving in Devon

In November the BBC reported the concerns of some local people that they had not had sightings of beavers on the River Otter for some weeks. This ‘disappearance’ was then reported by national newspapers. However, Devon Wildlife Trust has now come forward with evidence which shows that the beavers are still there, although they may have relocated their homes, known as lodges, along the river.

Devon Wildlife Trust is leading the River Otter Beaver Trial – a five year study of what is believed to be the first population of breeding beavers living wild in the English countryside for several centuries. The charity has said that it is currently monitoring four ‘active areas’ along the river where it has seen fresh evidence of the beavers’ presence.

Mark Elliott is the Trial’s manager and said:

“We knew the beavers had not ‘disappeared’ but it’s good to be able to report recent evidence showing that they are still active on the river. Beavers are mobile animals and it’s quite common for them to shift their lodges and feeding grounds. There’s lots of room for beavers on this river so it’s unsurprising that they have relocated from the places that we saw them last spring and summer.”

Whooo hoo! I’m a sucker for any story that has a chapter about missing beavers that suddenly show themselves to be doing just fine, thank you very much. Winter is a notoriously hard time to see beavers, whether they’re in Martinez or Napa or Devon. But it’s good to see sign, and it’s not very often that the media prints a photo of a beaver chewed tree with such joy. What a pleasure!

“As we move into the New Year and the daylight hours lengthen beavers will be active at dusk and dawn. If people do see them then it’s important they let us know so that we can get a clearer picture of the beavers’ numbers and locations.”

People with information can let the charity know if they see a beaver via email on with details of the date, time, exact location and whether the beaver has a coloured ear tag.

The River Otter Beaver Trial receives no government funding. Devon Wildlife Trust is urging people to offer their support via its website

I’m pretty sure it’s good luck to drop a little coin in their beaver fountain and make a wish for Martinez beavers to show up too. In the mean time let’s just remember that beavers show themselves in mysterious ways and have a merry christmas!

1935860_782891731821604_3506532428881655280_nMeanwhile the New Jersey whiners are still complaining about beavers. Apparently the free help they received from BWW and Beaver Solutions just wasn’t help-y enough. And they need more deadly assistance right away.

Beavers’ Dams Flood Toms River Neighborhood

“Killing animals because we find them inconvenient should not be an option. Beavers are clever, industrious, family-oriented animals and necessary to the ecosystem and we now know it is possible to live beside them without conflict,” said Veronica Van Hof, executive director of Unexpected Wildlife Refuge.

The two most widely-used trapping methods are inefficient and inhuman, she said. As a result of the meeting with officials, she learned the township will likely use a trap that drowns the beaver or another that crushes the animal, snapping its neck.

Politicians Discussing Climate Change: Isaac Cordal

Sometimes when you throw the drowning man a rope he says, no not THAT rope. I want the other one. To tell the truth, I’m not really hopeful for Tom’s River. They’re just going to keep pushing headlines that say “beavers are flooding us” until the day after Christmas when they can start trapping.  But it’s good that Veronica is cutting her teeth so to speak. Now she needs to learn to stop saying nice things and start saying THIS WILL SAVE YOU MONEY. Which is also true and slightly harder to ignore.

Not that cities can’t choose to ignore anything they wish, of course.

This new short film will answer a lot of questions about what’s been going on near highway 37, it’s 5 days old and nicely made. We’re hoping they’re kind to beavers that show up. But the SLT  has lots of beaver friends  in their ranks. So I’m optimistic.