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

To Beaver or Not To Beaver?

Posted by heidi08 On May - 25 - 2017ADD COMMENTS

More silly mulling from the Scottish countyside: Should beavers be allowed or not? A reader on the Tayside group pointed out that this same argument could have been made 15 years ago, I say probably longer than that.

Beaver reintroduction – what’s the story?

Their reputation as strong swimmers and prodigious engineers is not an understatement. Their large incisors and clawed front feet enable them to construct dams and lodges that can extend for hundreds of metres, as well as burrows of up to 20 metres into the riverbank.

“Any species introduction, particularly if it has not been in this country for hundreds of years, can have a massive impact on the many benefits that the countryside delivers,” Mark Pope, an arable farmer from Somerset who has instigated numerous initiatives to provide habitat and food for birds and insects and encourage diverse plant species on his farm, said.

“In the case of beavers, the NFU has concerns about the damage to farmland and the landscape caused by their physical activities.” Mark, who is also chair of the NFU Environment Forum, added. “Farmers and the public must have the tools to manage the impacts beavers will have to farmland, the countryside, flood defences and urban areas.

“Beavers can add biodiversity, as well as the interest, enjoyment and socio-economic benefits they can provide to many people. What the NFU is very clear on is that in some locations there is a clear need to manage this species to minimise undesirable impacts on agriculture, forestry, inland waters and other land uses.”

There is increasing interest in the beneficial role beavers could bring to habitats. The natural activities of beavers could help to regulate flooding and improve water quality, if managed properly. The Devon trial on the River Otter, led by the Devon Wildlife Trust in partnership with Clinton Devon Estates, the University of Exeter and the Derek Gow Partnership, has been exploring the role of beavers in managing and creating wetland habitats, the impacts on water quality, and influence on water flow and flood risk.

Tolkein once wrote “Go not to the elves for council, for they will say both ‘No’ and ‘Yes’.” Mostly no, though.

On the other hand, beaver burrows near watercourses can weaken river embankments and flood defences. Material felled and gathered by beavers for dams and lodges can create flood risk downstream and block drains upstream. The potential consequences of this for farmland and the rural economy is a cause for concern.

It is estimated that the costs of the 2007 and 2013-14 floods on agricultural businesses alone were £50m and £19m respectively, not to mention the wider economic impacts on local employment, infrastructure and utilities and the damage caused to people’s homes and communities.

The knock-on effects can be wide-ranging. The loss of productive farmland, for instance, would have a detrimental effect on food production and supply.

The Scottish Beaver Trial was a five-year project between the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, the Scottish Wildlife Trust and Forestry Commission Scotland to undertake a trial reintroduction of beavers to Knapdale, Mid-Argyll. The trial concluded in 2014 and as a result the Scottish government is considering recognising the European beaver as a native species.

A change in the legal status of beavers raises additional concerns. This is because beavers have no natural predators in the UK so it is important that populations can be managed, particularly if they are present in extensive low-lying areas such as East Anglia, Wiltshire and the Somerset Levels where their activities could block field drains leading to waterlogging (known as ‘wetting up’) of productive farmland.

Clarification: Beavers might benefit us if they don’t kills us all first.  “We killed off all their natural predators in the UK so there’s nothing left  to kill them and their numbers will swell like taxes with national health”. Are there no otters? No bacteria? No vehicles in your land? Beavers just don’t get killed by predators you know. And honestly, why act like you want to explore an issue and ONLY speak to one farming fiend from the National Farmers Union?

Who’s going to list all the many benefits for fish, wildlife, birds and water storage that come with beavers? Who’s going to talk about how much you can learn about nature by watching them? Who’s going to say how much they improve the health and vitality of urban waterways?

We need a National Beavers Union!!!



A beaver-friendly Friday

Posted by heidi08 On May - 12 - 2017Comments Off on A beaver-friendly Friday

Happy Friday! We’re off to Safari West today so I can talk beavers to families after dinner. It’s always a lot of fun, because we get to stay in one of their luxury tents and drink wine on the deck listening to exotic animals or crazy birds making noises there is no word for. On the way back we are stopping at Molly Eckler’s studio in Sebastopol to pick up her donation for the silent auction! In the mean time there is a startling amount of news on this end. I was notified yesterday that we were getting donated tickets to the Oakland Zoo and Academy of Sciences. And Coyote Brush Studios just finished the artwork for our temporary tattoos. (They say Tina is half way done with the Ecosystem poster).

BeaverTattooDesignsPainted1Twildlife nature journalshey are going to look SO cool on the nature Journals, I had to try a mock up to see.  Obviously Tina Curiel is a great talent and with Lindsey Moore managing the business side they make a great team. In the meantime we’re heading to the mountains on Monday week where we will gather a mere 150 8 inch sticks for children to use as the bindings and make each one have ‘beaver chews’ on my father’s grinder.

So I feel full of purpose.

To top it all off we weren’t the only ones irritated by that trapper-fan-fiction article last week. Settle back with a second cup and enjoy.

There’s a reason animal rights groups demonize trappers

Re “On the trap line” by Leila Philip (Opinion, May 5): Of course animal rights people “demonize” trappers. Why shouldn’t they? Methods of controlling beaver damage abound, including beaver deceivers, baffles, and PVC pipes. Philip should pay attention to her own instinctive resistance to the cruelty of trapping; to her, the beaver is a “token of the wild.” Consider the animal that has been trapped: Perhaps the night is icy, and yet he cannot escape. He is in a great deal of pain. He tries to chew off his paw in order to rid himself of the painful trap.

Nothing can be said in favor of trapping other than by people who do not care about the animal’s suffering. That’s why we demonize trappers.

As for the trapper: Who cares if he is “the ultimate locavore,” using the defenseless animal in every possible way? He may be deeply rooted in nature, but of what significance is that when he accepts cruelty?

Virginia Fuller

Nice job, Virginia. When I read a letter like this I, of course, wish it talked less about ‘cruelty’ and more about what removing a beaver is taking away from the community in terms of ecosystem services. Every beaver you trap means a bird that won’t nest there, a trout that won’t survive, a frog that won’t reproduce. That dead beaver carcass is weighted down with ghosts, like Marley’s chains in Scrooge, or like the tin cans on a just married car, expect they make no sound and it’s more like a ‘just buried’ car, instead.

Hmmm, that would be a more complicated graphic to create, but worth thinking about.



It seems to me, I heard that beaver song before.

Posted by heidi08 On April - 3 - 2017Comments Off on It seems to me, I heard that beaver song before.

Late last night, when we were all in bed
Mrs. O’Leary left the lantern on the shed
And when the cow kicked it over, she winked her eye and said
They’ll be a hot time, in the old town tonight!

Do you remember singing this in a round at camp?  I do, and for obvious reasons it sprung to mind when I opened this story this morning.

City removes beaver traps from Warner Park

The Madison parks division has abruptly removed all beaver traps from Warner Park after outraged residents began yanking the traps without city authorization late last week.

“This type of action presents significant safety risks to the person removing the traps,” wrote parks superintendent Eric Knepp in an email to city officials. “As always, we consider the totality of the circumstances in our decision-making related to wildlife management in our parks, and in this case the potential safety risks outweigh the benefit.”

While she doesn’t condone residents “taking matters into their own hands,”  retired Madison police detective Sara Petzold is relieved the beaver traps have been removed from Warner Park. Petzold lives near Warner and visits it frequently with her giant schnauzer, Milo. On a recent walk, she spotted a truck with the license plate “ITRAP.”

Ohhh my my my, a retired police officer worried about the trapping and a media story that didn’t go away with the setting sun. Time for me to get the popcorn and settle in for a front row seat. Is it just me or did someone else here Barbara Streisand start singing ‘memories’ in the background?

The retired detective then learned the truck belonged to a trapper contracted with the city to remove beavers. He told her that he was placing traps near the underwater entryways to the beavers’ lodge.

The animal rights group PETA has also contacted the city about its beaver trapping policy. Kent Stein, a member of the group’s “emergency response team,” sent an email to Madison Mayor Paul Soglin, Common Council members and Knepp urging them to forgo trapping in favor of other methods to mitigate potential damage caused by beavers.

“Please understand that death by drowning is a terrifying and exceptionally painful ordeal (beavers can take up to 15 minutes simply to lose consciousness),” Stein wrote to officials. “Successful long-term wildlife control requires targeting the environment (vs. the animal) by making it unappealing and/or inaccessible to unwanted species. Examples of this for beavers include curtailing access to food sources by spraying tree trunks with [repellents], coating trunks with latex paint, or ‘caging’ trunks with three foot high wire mesh/hardware cloth offset by at least 10 inches to prevent gnawing.”

So now you have PETA telling you to wrap trees and a whole lot more folks calling your office I bet. I know I spent my first hour of the day writing the editor, the parks and the mayor. Stories like this never fail to delight me. It’s like playing the same waltz grandma danced to when she was a girl.

I know this song.


Ann Shea, public information officer for the parks division, also declined on March 30 to answer questions. But in an emailed “response,” Shea explains that a resident recently alerted the city to beaver activity “in and around the Warner lagoon.” She says staff inspected the area and noticed that more than a dozen trees had “irreparable damage or had recently fallen due to damage.” She confirms a licensed trapper with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources was brought in “only to the extent necessary to mitigate the hazards of tree death, shoreline damage, and flooding.”

“In assessing the trees and shoreline, staff determined that the damage was recent and caused by beavers. Staff also determined that a number of trees that had not fallen would need to be removed as they were in a hazardous condition and location for dogs and people using the park,” Shea writes. “In addition to the tree damage, beavers often build dams near the outlet structure to Lake Mendota from the lagoon. This will create flooding across the park, especially during large rain events, and could alter the land use over the intermediate term by raising the water level of the lagoon.”

Shea says the raised water level may also contribute to the anoxic conditions of the lagoon by limiting the flow to the lake which increases the likelihood of a large scale fish die off. In response to inquiries about “drowning traps,” Shea responds: “The Wisconsin DNR does not recommend live trapping and relocating of beavers. If a live trap was used, the beaver would still likely be euthanized.”

However, Petzold says the parks division has yet to provide evidence to justify its “covert trapping policy.”

“I think we need to look at the benefits of having beavers at Warner Park, the negatives and, as a city, find the right balance,” says Petzold. “I have not seen any indication that parks has really undertaken any of those analyses. That’s what concerns me the most. This could have easily flown under the radar and we’d have no idea why the beavers were gone.”

What? You mean there might be BENEFITS to having beavers in the area? You don’t say! Tell me more! This retired officer knows her stuff. I just wish I were a young student in Madison that could be hopping aboard this particular train and bringing some friends. Don’t you?

But in his email to city officials, Knepp defends his division’s efforts to trap beavers at Warner Park.“Our wildlife management practices are rooted in years of knowledge and experience from professional staff of the specific locations and issues involved. Trapping is a very limited method that is only authorized in specific situations and within Wisconsin DNR guidelines and regulations,” says Knepp. “We do not pursue this as an option without consideration of alternatives. Parks is willing to have any or all of our wildlife management practices reviewed should that be the desire of our policymakers.”

Ahh isn’t it adorable when exectives puff up and defend their staff’s decision to trap beavers? They get so red in the face when they realize somethings being scrutinized that everyone took for granted before. I’m thinking fondly of our mayor recognizing the freight train headed his way. He was just clever enough able to pull his dignity almost completely off the tracks before the inevitable impact.

Well, good luck boys and girls in Madison. We definitely will help you any way we can. And let us know if you take any videos, because this stuff is great to watch on the TeeVee.