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

21 beavers shot in Scotland

Posted by heidi08 On November - 25 - 2015Comments Off on 21 beavers shot in Scotland

This story is so upsetting. Two days ago I saw a comment on a scottish facebook page saying that farmers were shooting beavers. I wrote Paul Ramsay to find out what I could. He quickly wrote back that there had been several incidents and one farmer in particular bragging that he had “Shot 10”.

They were uncertain whether to go to the papers or not, because they feared a negative story could promote a backlash, resulting in more beavers dying..

Looks like the cats outta the bodybag.

Farmers shooting invading Tayside beavers

But it has now emerged that the bodies of 21 beavers have been discovered with gunshot wounds since the end of 2012.

Farmers and other landowners are suspected of being responsible for the slaughter and have been urged by conservationists 

to adopt non-lethal methods to control the species.

The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS) has examined the bodies of 23 beavers in the Tayside area and concluded that two died in road accide

nts and the rest were shot dead.

At present, a licence is not needed to shoot beavers as they have no legal protection in the UK. However, possessing and moving a dead beaver is not legal without a licence.

Why on earth should we be surprised at this story? Just because beavers were extinct for 400 years, and scraped their way back from the bistory pile, doesn’t mean a farmer won’t shoot them now. I mean, they happily shoot rabbits, foxes, and badgers. So why wouldn’t they shoot beavers?

The very slanted article is the best answer I could have thought of to Paul’s question. No matter how responsibly you sit on the story and consider your cautions, its going to break soon enough anyway.

Better to make sure you’re in front of it.

Beaver Moon.

Tonight is a full beaver moon. So when you’re looking up  in ghostly wibderm think of our Scottish friends.

There’s too much nature in our parks

Posted by heidi08 On November - 10 - 2015Comments Off on There’s too much nature in our parks

How much nature is TOO much? Let the biologists decide.

Maya Shikhman has photographed a Staten Island beaver busy at work, building and nibbling. The large, semi-aquatic mammal has been observed at two locations.

Beavers join the parade of wildlife attracted to Staten Island life

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — They have not been on Staten Island since the 1800s, but a few beavers have taken up residence in the last year or so.

Their population has increased in near-by locations in New Jersey and downstate New York. It’s likely our beaver were ‘disperser’ who left their original area due to competitive pressures from other beaver… similar to why the deer have come to the island,” said Wollney, a doctoral biology candidate at the College of Staten Island.

The growing numbers of the semi-aquatic mammal in New Jersey are leading to the consideration of solutions to manage their numbers.

“The Control Operators Association estimates New Jersey has around 10 million to 15 million beavers, mostly concentrated in the northwest part of the state,” reported the Associated Press in a story in January.

“Busy as a beaver” is an accurate description of an industrious animal or person. “The beaver’s ability to modify its environment is second only to humans,” reads the NY Department of Environmental Conservation website.

And though their industry is irresistible, it is not without consequences, beneficial or not, depending on the environment. Noting that in more wild areas, these “habiat engineers” play an important role by creating pools that become habitat for other species, Wollney observes “on Staten Island, their presence is generally not good.”

“The issue is that we have so few streams that they are all ‘sensitive’ to changes. Simply, we’d lose valuable habitats if the beaver alter it too much. The chewing down of trees just opens up the ground to be invaded by very undesirable non-native, invasive plants and ecosystems to replace what are right now “kind of” natural plant communities,” said Wollney.

Hmmm.Your use of the word ‘disperser’ was encouraging. But I’m concerned about your expectation of beaver population explosion. You do know these guys are territorial, right? I mean I suppose if the island has a million luscious trees and streams they will tolerate more sharing, but mostly beavers are pretty territorial. Which is why that little beaver had to swim so far to find a home in the first place.

I feel fairly certain that Wollney’s Ph.D. isn’t in beavers. Call it a hunch.

Finally, says, Wollney, they have “damned up a Blue Belt stream which is intended to relieve storm-water stress on the roads and sewers. The South Shore beaver(s) pose the same issue.

One of the streams they are damning drains the Greenbelt and is used by American eels. “Their damn has the potential for blocking young eels from getting up in the water-shed where they mature,” said Wollney.

Well now you’ve gone and done it. You think you’ve heard it all. Every spurious beaver complaint the world can dream up. Blocking culverts, salmon, attacking dogs, causing beaver fever. But THAT is a new one. Blocking EELS. I have to hand it to you Wollney, for originality at least. And for giving me a chance to post my favorite brief poem of all time.

I don’t mind eels
Except as meals.
And the way they feels.

Ogdon Nash

I will try and track folks down and breathe a little beaver council their way, in the meantime our friend Sherry Guzzi of the Sierra Wildlife Coalition sent this my way and I’d knew you’d want to see it. Watch all the way through and look for a beaver surprise in nearly every frame.

Wait, Wait! Don’t Tell Me!

Posted by heidi08 On November - 4 - 2015Comments Off on Wait, Wait! Don’t Tell Me!

Oh look, California has a drought sad. They think concrete dams will make them happy. Good thing they have millions of dollars. Here’s a clip from yesterday’s PBS Newshour.

You know they said the word ‘environmental’ several times in this report, but did they ever say the word FISH? I don’t think so. Or SALMON. I mean obviously the fact that they talked to Dr. Moyle means they know the word and are thinking about it, but I guess they didn’t want to say it aloud?

Imagine what other western states use to save water? I’ll give you a hint. It starts with a “B” And it works for free. And it eats from a tree.

And California kills a bucket load of them.

You know I’ve been in the beaver biz so long that I remember how THRILLED I was when this video came out. Five years ago I thought for SURE this would turn the tide. Hahaha. I was so young and naive.

Thanks BK for sending this and HI PETER MOYLE who often is willing to play name that fish with us! I only wish the News Hour would invest this kind of money in the real solution which California ignores and kills every day.

Now beaver fans everywhere have an important job to do, and that is to turn the head of the master craftsman who made this stunning piece. I wrote him yesterday how beautiful I thought it was and told him I would send him a million beaver friends, asking him to think about donating to the silent auction.

I heard back from him right away. He had a purchase from England immediately after my email. And he’s thinking about it. This morning he is sold out of beavers, but has other beautiful wildlife to choose from. Help him be persuaded?

William Guse, known in the Society for Creative Anachronism as Master Ark of Ringholden, has been making Medieval jewellery for over 35 years. He has spent his whole life as a craftsman. Making things is not just his livelihood, it is his passion.

Missing beavers report

Posted by heidi08 On November - 2 - 2015Comments Off on Missing beavers report

Devon is worried. They haven’t seen their famously uninvited beavers since September. (Well, neither have we.) Hopefully they’ll be lucky and they’ve just moved downstream or are taking a vacation. But surely  there are as many people who want them dead in Devon as there are in Martinez.

Maybe even more?

Man hasn’t seen beavers in Devon for two months

Fears are growing for a family of England’s only wild beavers – which haven’t been spotted for nearly TWO months. Researchers monitoring the group are growing concerned after one of the families went missing – believed to have been scared off by dog walkers.

The 10-strong collection of beavers, discovered by amateur wildlife cameraman Tom Buckley, are the first breeding wild-beavers in Britain since the 17th century. Initially it was feared they would damage the environment around their home, but a license was eventually granted to a research group to monitor their progress. But now the group from the Devon Wildlife Trust are growing concerned after cameraman Tom reported that one of the three families has disappeared.

Tom has been by the beavers side since he first spotted them in February 2014. But he now fears for one family of beavers, after they went missing in September from their burrow close to a public footpath.

I’m sorry for Tom, because worrying about beavers is very hard work. And  would be troubled by that odd headline if the first comment hadn’t clarified its purpose, but allow me to say, as a woman who has watched beavers fairly steadily for nearly 9 years, they are harder to see in the winter months. They always area. Even our friends in Napatopia have been complaining lately. This is partly because they have longer hours without daylight and more options – which means they choose not to come out when folks are around. If you check our sightings pages for the past few Novembers and Decembers you will see barely two sightings per month, although of course there are exceptions.

All I’m saying is don’t panic, but keep looking, because beavers are good at surprising you.

Here’s what I worked on yesterday, which seems appropriate for Devon now too. A friend sent me the idea about rabbits and thought it would be better with beavers. (Well, isn’t everything?) I am very proud. Especially of the toes.

more beaver water

Gridley Beavers

Posted by heidi08 On October - 28 - 2015Comments Off on Gridley Beavers

The Grey lodge Wildlife Area is a richly maintained 9100 acre wetland in Gridley CA managed by CDFW. It is a sweet spot for thousands of migrating birds; bringing birdwatchers, fishermen, duck hunters and wildlife enthusiasts. Visitors and groups of school children take wildlife tours of the area. They even have a drive-through viewing loop for the less active visitors. But you won’t be at all surprised to learn that they have a constantly uninvited guest that gums up their waterworks and causes less than joy.

Recently Grey Lodge contracted local filmmaker Jay Goble to do a wildlife management film. They had lots of information they wanted him to include on the pesky visitor, (because messages of intolerance won’t promote themselves). Jay needed some footage but their haunted beavers are pretty hard to see. So he thought he’d come to Martinez and contacted me. Here’s one of Jay’s recent films for CDFW.

Pintail Banding – Vimeo from Jay Goble on Vimeo

We had a nice chat and I filled him in on our absent beavers but also the other places they could be viewed, (although from now on is grim winter invisible-beaver time everywhere). We agreed that summer would be a much better time to film. We also talked about the negative earful he had gotten about beavers from GLWA and some of the research about how important they are to water, salmon, frogs, nitrogen removal, invertebrates and all the wildlife that relies on those species. He was really surprised to hear the OPPOSITE of what he had been told. And intrigued.

I made sure I told him about managing beaver challenges with flow devices and  how ours had worked successfully for nearly a decade. I told him about looking for beavers in Napa, American Canyon and Winters. And said we would be happy to help with 8 years footage if he needed it.

Afterwards I thought of the (by comparison) nearly infinite resources of CDFW which can pay top notch filmmakers to spread their “beavers are bad” message. And the little mouthpiece of this website, which has such a short range and narrowly finite budget.

And I thought, if he’s calling ME for advice on how to film beavers, I guess we’re doing okay.

Not Enough: The AE Report

Posted by heidi08 On September - 30 - 2015Comments Off on Not Enough: The AE Report

Did you ever have an arch enemy? I mean someone who thwarts your every move, foils your every plan, and seems to lurk just over your shoulder where you can never, never see them? AE’s are respected and listened to by all the wrong people and whatever work you do to dismiss what they say it’s too late because they’ve already gone on to speak to the next group that you’re going to have to try and re-educate.

The Martinez Beavers have had lots of enemies, city council, public works, hired environmental consulting firms, a few reporters, handsomely paid attorneys and various property owners. But we only ever had one AE. And if you don’t know who that was by now I’m not doing my job.  Here she is talking at the April 2008 council meeting. And here I am over her shoulder looking inceredulous. I believe among her many erroneous points were;

  1. that our beavers were leaving (or had already left),
  2.  that every flow device she had ever seen installed had failed,
  3. and that trees can be protected with blackberry bushes because beaver never eat them as they dislike the thorns.

Originally Mary Tappel offered her services when our city was responding to beaver problems and she was supposed to present formally to the beaver subcommittee. We all got copies of her resume in preparation. But I happened by chance to recognize her name from an article about the Elk Grove beaver fiasco in the Sacramento Bee, which my folks used to get delivered to their home in the foothills. I remember being jarred by her comment in the article at the time that the beavers had to be killed because being sterilized was stressful. I thought, ‘isn’t being killed stressful?’ Then heard later  that she was coming to Martinez to offer l her skills.

At the time she told the reporter for the Gazette that beavers “breed for 50 years”. I remember because when I read the article I wrote him and asked whether it was a typo. The editor said ‘no’ and called her to check that he got the quote correctly. And just like that my AE announced that she would  not present to the subcommittee, because we were too inflamed and hostile, and she would just meet behind the scenes with city staff.

This meant that she could whisper her poisons unchallenged into their willing ears. Telling staff once that the father beaver should be killed so that the mother would have to mate with her sons when they grew up and slow population growth in that way. No. really.

God only knows what else she said.

The mayor liked her council so much that he invited her secretly to the April 2008 meeting where the subcommittee  results were going to be presented. I remember how surprised we were to see her in the hallway outside. To this day I wonder what funds changed hands to get her there. That same night I had suddenly found out I was going to be the one to present our results. No warning, just like that go ahead and talk to 200 people. And then Mary would go after me and dispute everything I said.

It turned out to be okay though, because she was not very convincing with her waving cardboard sign. My luck. And she went away and we got what we wanted, so that seemed like a victory.

Imagine how excited I was when Jack Sanchez of S.A.R.S.A.S heard my talk in Santa Barbra and invited me to come follow her presentation on beavers in Auburn. The shoe was finally on the other foot! I was so happy. I pulled together the latest fish data and they said the talk was the best attended and the best delivered they ever had. I was on cloud 9 when it was over. Especially because of the intelligent comments of one listener from FWS who knew everything about the fish issue and could soothe anxieties at the end of the talk. Here’s what I wrote at the time:

One particularly knowledgeable young man introduced himself as Damion Ciotti from the Habitat Restoration Division of US Fish and Wildlife Service. We connected several years ago and he was very interested in our work in Martinez. I made sure he left with a copy of Mike Callahan’s DVD. You can’t imagine how helpful his comments were in soothing the beaver-disbelievers in the room. I couldn’t have orchestrated it better than to let fish savvy folk do the defending for me!

So I was stunned to hear a few months ago that my AE was invited BACK to S.A.R.S.A.S. to speak on beavers this September. Again? I got word yesterday from Damion that he attended her talk and was dismayed to hear her describe beaver as responsible for “Ecosystem Collapse“. He tried to ask pointed questions but realized she didn’t have any sources for her info but anecdote. She apparently said that there was no region in California where beaver should ever be introduced.

Ecosystem Collapse. If you google the phrase with the word beavers you get zero hits. Only articles about them being a keystone species. I guess the research world doesn’t think like Mary Tappel.

Damion said she introduced herself as working for the state, and he was worried about the influence she might have with policy. She is still staff on the regional waterboards, which is a division of the CAEPA. (Bravely protecting the environment from beavers, apparently). She is still marching around calling herself a beaver expert, and even boasts of her work with Martinez on her resume.

Mary also dealt with beaver management questions and in foothill areas such as Granite Bay, Loomis, & Roseville; and towards the Bay/Delta area in  Martinez, and to the south in Elk Grove, all in creeks and small retention basins. Mary’s involvement in foothill areas and smaller streams has always included salmonid passage concerns.

What a coincidence. With the exception of Martinez those cities are the very ones that issued the most depredation permits. Isn’t that just an amazing coincidence?


Which is not to say she hasn’t learned anything over the years. She used to preach devotedly that beavers ruined salmon passage, and now she says the salmon make their way around dams. Which is something. But I realize, sadly and with no small amount of panic, it’s not enough. I haven’t done enough. People want to hear what she says because they want to get rid of things that are inconvenient. She has a resonant message to deliver. And they want to hear what I say less because co-existence seems like it means work. Screw the salmon. Or the frogs. Just let me do what I want to do, sound environmental and give me cover. So I can get away with it.

I haven’t done enough. And even though, if you google her name, the warnings of this website are nearly the only thing that come up, even though I was able to follow her talk on her home turf in the very county where they kill the most beavers in the entire state, and even though I talked BWW into taking her off their resource list for beaver experts in CA: It’s not enough. I’m not doing enough.

My arch enemy continues to influence the American River area and all its surrounds. She has a powerful platform and a respected government job to grant her credibility. And I haven’t beaten her.


Moving the problem in Wyoming

Posted by heidi08 On September - 12 - 2015Comments Off on Moving the problem in Wyoming

Sherry Guzzi of the Sierra Wildlife Coalition sent this yesterday. Her sister lives in Jackson Hole where the documentary will be having its American debut.

Nature club to screen movie about beavers


Drew Reed of the Wyoming Wetland Society releases one of two beavers into a wetland in the Gros Ventre in 2009. The film “Beavers Behaving Badly” documents Reed’s catch-and-release work. It will be screened tonight by the Jackson Hole Bird and Nature Club.

On Tuesday the club will present wildlife filmmaker Jeff Hogan’s one-hour documentary “Beavers Behaving Badly,” a BBC production. The screening is in conjunction with the club’s regular monthly meeting, 6 to 8 p.m. at Teton County Library.

The film explores the importance of beavers in the area’s ecosystem. Valley biologist Drew Reed is documented over the course of a year relocating beavers from private land where they were a nuisance to public land where they can create wetland habitat that is vital to wildlife and people.

“The film shows an ecological project come full circle,” said Bernie McHugh, a dedicated birdwatcher and secretary for the club. “Once the beavers are relocated to public lands all throughout Teton County they can help restore wetland, notably for trumpeter swans.”

Ah another feel-good solution! Move the problem out of our creeks and streams and throw them into the mountains! Maybe they’ll survive and do some good and maybe they’ll die or get eaten by a  coyote but either way it’s a win-win for us. Because nothing is going to be nibbling our hedgerows.

Drew seems like a nice enough fellow, and his intentions seem of the right kind. But I’m a little worried that a grown man whose job it is to solve beaver problems that doesn’t spend any time building flow devices or protecting culverts. He also shockingly says that he’s never seen a beaver chew through “netting” before (???) or eat grass (!!!). So I’m going to assume his beaver information has room to grow. Here, I’ll help get him started. This is a yearling chewing grass.

If you can’t make it out to Jackson Hole for the premiere, you can watch the whole thing online here. The title alone set my teeth on edge for most of it, but there’s some lovely video and footage of a beaver making a scent mound which is worth the price of admission by itself. Another attempt to copy Jari Osborne’s hard work, I’ll warrant. Drew is no Sherri Tippie, that’s for sure.

BBC.Natural.World.2014.Beavers.Behaving.Badly… by i-teach-U

Let me know what you think. My strongest impression is that Jackson hole is an insanely beautiful place with a lot of beaver sissies for residents. But that’s just me.

I worked longer than I should on this yesterday but was very happy with the result. I really thought Enos Mills’ great writing needed to be revisited, so I selected a few choice lines from my favorite chapter, along with a handful of select photos. I gave up on the idea of having a better voice read this because the  timing needed was a little weird anyway and I’m not smart enough to change it. I really hope you watch this. Or at least read the chapter.

ACapture final selfish note urging us all to wish for rain, or at least cooler temperatures to help calm the fray. The Butte fire is burning the hell out of Heidi’s favorite place, and grew so rapidly yesterday the firefighters actually lost ground. The land my parents brought when I was 7 and built a home to retire on for the last 25 years isn’t out of the woods yet. As a child I built and maintained a coral there to keep in my imaginary horses, and it is the place that Jon and I escaped to the snowy night we were married, lo these many years ago. The fire is mostly expanding away from our property but there is one wicked lick at the back that is marching up the canyon towards the wild place I know best in the world, so keep your fingers crossed.

It’s been a year for catastrophes, and sometimes that is contagious.