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

The Beavers of Better Days

Posted by heidi08 On September - 1 - 2017Comments Off on The Beavers of Better Days

As you will notice by the bold sign in the left margin, the metaphorical cat is ‘officially’ out of the bag. Yesterday we were invited to Kiwanis and went public in the most possible way about our returning beavers. City mogul’s were in attendance, including Leanne Peterson and Cathy Ivers so we know the mayor will know soon, if he doesn’t already. Something else that will likely get his attention is that two not-beaver-friends at the meeting stood up and said publicly how negatively they had felt about the beavers originally, and how surprised they were how much I helped them learn with my patient, positive attitude (ha!) that taught them so much. And how they were truly GRATEFUL for my help in changing their minds and understanding why beavers mattered. No, really.

Jon and I were kind of stunned by that, which was way better than we hoped for.

I came home and boldly announced on FB that the beavers were back, and there are 63 likes this morning, with lots of folks sharing the news. I am counting on the fact that word will spread all through the town because last night I was called by the Gazette about the return. I know its impossible to be sure about their safety, and everything will get harder before it gets easier, but I feel I’ve given it a good initial shot. Even though my instinct is to hide them forever and keep them safe, I know that beavers themselves don’t keep secrets. They’ll make their presence known soon enough to the folks living along the creek. So the best chance we have is to enlist the public support and see what happens.

Cross your fingers.

I saved from yesterday’s glut of good beaver news. We wish there was a little more method to their madness, but we’re very happy they’re catching on, or giving the appearance of it.

‘Beaver deceivers’ a promising solution to Cumberland’s dam problems

CUMBERLAND – Town officials and wildlife advocates say they’ve uncovered a potential long-term solution in fighting destruction from beavers: a wire mesh system that keeps water flowing in local waterways.

But in February, the Land Trust found luck with “pond levelers” that control waterlines behind the beaver dams. Cumberland Highway Supt. Frank Stowik told The Valley Breeze that one day’s work has changed everything in drying out local trail systems and preventing damage.

“An article out of Vermont regarding their beaver problem showed there’s a cage made out of a wire mesh,” he said, describing what he called the “beaver deceiver.” “You put a pipe in and extend it beyond the edges of the trail. The beaver doesn’t go near it.”

The cage technology keeps beavers from noticing the permanent leak through the dam and controls floods. For a couple hundred dollars, Stowik’s team purchased a roll of chicken wire, a pipe and a few pool noodles to keep the cage afloat. A backhoe pulled out 100 feet of chewed logs and forest debris, then the pipe was submerged halfway underwater with the 4-foot mesh box preventing any clogs and disguising the leak through the dam.

I’m having such a mix of feelings right now. We are THRILLED that the Cumberland Land Trust realized that killing beavers wasn’t a real solution. And very glad they learned other ways. But I’m more than a little concerned about this floating box of chicken wire. They can only have researched the issue with both hands over their eyes not to learn that their was an actual DVD to teach them how to do it correctly? My prediction is that the chicken wire is going to plastered with mud very soon, and that the floating cage is going to whip off in the first storm. There are good reasons Mike and Skip use 6 inch wire fencing and anchor it firmly to the bottom of the pond.

Cumberland Land Trust President Randy Tuomisto first examined what he believes is the first pond leveler installed in Rhode Island in North Smithfield. He emphasized the need to cohabitate with beavers rather than trap and kill them. Local licensed beaver trapper Brett Malloy lent his expertise too, noting that only a licensed professional can remove the animals.

“It will keep repeating itself once you have beavers,” said Frank Matta, of the Land Trust. “If you trap them, you have to euthanize them. Being an environmental group, that was not an option we were going to go with. We’ve been trying to do our best to accommodate them, and I think that’s what the town is trying to do with the Monastery.”

Multi-agency monitors now are studying the damage control efforts. For the Land Trust, when another dam rose just a few feet away, they installed another cage. The bog bridge boardwalk at the preserve took shape earlier this month, and has been keeping hikers dry through the first leg of the swamp.

“Right now the two pond levelers are maintaining the level we want and have been functioning as designed,” said Tuomisto. “I’m happy with the success we’ve been having.”

The Monastery’s cage has been in place for a month with the same favorable results.

“We go out every couple weeks right now because it’s new,” Stowik said, noting the hundreds of hikers who explore the area daily also share the legwork. “If there’s an issue, usually the phone rings right away.”

Stowik also hailed the cage technology’s humane alternative to extermination. And for the Land Trust, which also examines the beaver’s role in wetland maintenance and storm abatement, it seemed the only solution.

“I don’t believe the beavers are going away,” Matta added. “If you took out a family of 10 or 12, within a year they would be repopulated with their extended family. That’s why we have to learn to deal with them.”

I’m so confused. I can’t decide if they really want to solve this problem humanely and they just made several innocent rookie mistakes or if they are just pretending to want to solve it that way and waiting for it to fail so they have an excuse to trap with impunity. I was so hopeful about Cumberland’s public response when I wrote about it back in 2013. Now I’m not so sure. Obviously these tools are working in the summer because they’re not being challenged by storms.  The fact that it’s floating must keep the beavers from plugging the cage for now,  but it won’t matter once it gets flung by the storm.

Gentlemen, there is no need to reinvent the wheel here. It’s round for a reason. Buy a copy of Mike’s DVD and watch how this is really done. I may be an old cynic but I predict that when these fail you are going to brush your hands together and tell the conservationists “Well, we tried it your way, but I guess we have to kill them now.”

Just so you know, it’s not considered trying until you use the correct tools, correctly.

GO HERE and learn what you’re not doing.

I just wrote them a note too. I guess we’ll soon find out whether they really want to help or just want cover from those crazy beaver huggers. Poolsnake? Honestly?

Yesterday I saw this on Facebook and had to share. Great work by Methow, once again!

The other greatest story ever told!

Posted by heidi08 On July - 30 - 2017Comments Off on The other greatest story ever told!

necklace displayYesterday was an unbelievably delightful and challenging journey through the year’s accumulation of goodies getting everything ready for today’s meeting with Leslie and Deidre for the important ‘bagging and tagging’ of items for the silent auction. We were reminded how many, many unbelievable treasures we received courtesy of enormously generous souls from as far away as Rhode Island, Kent, Calgary and Melbourne. Here is our small and precious collection of beaver jewelry which we were eager to display. This year we were given less jewelry and more art. Far more. There are 38 stunningly creative images this year in the auction, with everything from beaver ballerinas to otter notepads and avocets in flight.

The hardest job of pulling and sequencing is done. Believe me when I say some colorful language was spoken yesterday. Today will be reviewing, oohing and ahhing, and sticking numbers on items. 89 in total. Not bad for a beaver charity!

In the meantime there is PLENTY of good news this sunday, starting with a fairytail report from Calgary where folks are protesting the removal of a beaver dam and subsequent loss of habitat because of a proposed road building. I like every single thing about this story, but especially the name of the town, which sounded almost like candid camera was trying to see how I’d react.

Construction of southwest ring road will destroy popular beaver pond, protesters say

Protestors concerned about wildlife habitat loss due to construction of the southwest ring road led a walk to a popular beaver pond in the Weaselhead area Saturday.

The biggest issue is the realignment of the Elbow River and construction of a bridge overtop, which could mean the loss of a popular beaver pond, said Diane Stinson, a bird watcher who regularly frequents the area in the southwest corner of Calgary.

“They’ve proposed to fill in 24 wetlands between Highway 8 and Highway 22X,” she said.

“Four of those wetlands directly impact the beaver pond and the beaver pond is a local treasure. People go there all the time to see the wildlife and if the wetlands are filled in as the contractor has applied, the beaver pond will cease to exist.”

Ahh the chills up my spine when I read a sentence like that! You can’t imagine. Or when I see a photo like this:

“People are obviously concerned,” he said during Saturday’s protest organized by the group, YYC Cares.  “Any damage that might happen to any wildlands, we compensate it three-to-one. We work with Ducks Unlimited and other organizations.

“In the original plan, our project would have come much closer to the beaver pond, but we’ve actually moved the road and changed the plan, so we’re going to have a pretty wide buffer between the two.” Johnson said trees and other vegetation will also be planted to strengthen the buffer between the road and beaver pond.

That’s right. We work with Duck Hunters to trade the destruction of habitat by our bulldozers for some more wetlands for duck hunters. That seems fair, right?

The $1.42 billion southwest ring road project will link Highway 8 with Highway 22X and is slated to be completed in the fall of 2018. The resident group has also filed letters with the province’s Environmental Appeals Board about the design, without success.

“We’ve had two different levels of appeal and our first appeal was dismissed,” Stinson said. “We just heard [Friday] that our second appeal was rejected. They’re saying we’re not directly affected by this.” The style of bridge being used to cross the Elbow River is also a problem for some members of YYC Cares.

“We were never aware until just recently that instead of an open-span bridge like Stoney Trail in the northwest, this is a cut-and-fill earth and berm dam,” Stinson said.

Something tells me there’s a reason you weren’t informed about this, Stinson.

Founded in 1965 by Grant MacEwan, the Weaselhead is one of three protected parks in Calgary — the other two being the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary and Griffith Woods Park. The Weaselhead is a source of Calgary’s drinking water and is “incredibly biodiverse,” said Paul Finkleman, president of the Weaselhead Preservation Society.

“We at the Weaselhead Society call it Calgary’s largest outdoor classroom,” he said.

“We have thousands and thousands of kids every year learning about water ecology, forest ecology, water biology and environmental stewardship. It’s just such a wonderful place, not just for families to enjoy, but for children to learn… right within city limits.”

Thousands of children, and some very wealthy-looking protestors. My odds are on the beaver dam. Great work friends of the beaver pond! You have all our support and spirit! Send your happy thoughts to the plucky folks of WEASELHEAD which, in addition to being the kind of name a newspaper loves to write over and over, is also about 3 hours over the border from Montana.

A protester, left, speaks to Ian McColl with KGL, the company building the southwest ring road, during an event Saturday organized by YYC Cares. The group says construction of the southwest ring road will negatively affect wildlife in the Weaselhead area. (Julien Lecacheur/CBC)

There are two more prizes this sunday, the first will be adored by all, and the second might mean nothing to anyone but me. Here’s the first, which was posted on my FB page by beaver buddy Lee Lawrence of Oregon. No back story provided, but honestly, none needed.

20480018_340596816363503_4787114414645823099_nThere are cute babies an there are oh-my-god-I-wanna-die cute babies. And I believe you know how I would classify this one.

Now onto the Heidi amusement, which comes because I stumbled across this nursery rhyme in the context of our current presidential administration. Everyone knows the first line but few remember the poem it comes from.

Birds of a feather, Flock Together
And so do pigs and swine
Rats and mice shall have their choice
And so will I have mine.

There were two things that struck me about this jingle. The first was that it should obviously be about beavers, which I’ll get to later. The second was that its rhyme is SO off. Obviously there’s an internal rhyme scheme in the first line with feather and together, but what happens to that in line three? In what crazy world do ‘mice’ and ‘choice’ rhyme?

Jon and I brainstormed a bit about this mystery and he thought there was a chancethey rhymed in the Cornish dialect. So of course I marched straight to beaver expert Derek Gow and asked him. Guess what he said?

“Here in Devon and Cornwall there is a tendency to pronounce things like mice as moice. Same applies to the other words so maybe the connection is there.”

Ah HA! Mystery solved! Rats and Moise will have their Choice! Heh heh heh…Thank you, Derek! Now for the other problem.

Birds of a feather, flock together
Both closely and beyond
Bugs, frogs and fish, are all they wish
Beside a beaver pond.

Asked and Answered

Posted by heidi08 On July - 18 - 2017Comments Off on Asked and Answered

We’ve entered the phase of the festival planning where things are falling into place. The brochure proof from the printer was ready yesterday and it’s fully ADORABLE. Our grant from Kiwanis arrived in the mail and an unexpected treasure floated our way in the offer of help from this group.

Have Fun, Give Back, Run!

I was surprised I’d never heard of this group before but read they were formed this very year, which is as good a way as I know to demonstrate the beaver spirit still exists in Martinez. Their lovely website says:

The Martinez Beavers Run Club (MBRC) was established in 2017 as a way to bring people together through a shared interest in running. The club is a fun way to meet new friends, explore new areas and continue to strengthen the sense of community that is being cultivated by the people of Martinez.

Which makes enormous sense because if the Martinez beavers symbolize nothing else, they surely  represent a sense of community! With glowing eyes, I immediately suggested a million jobs for which they could be wonderfully appreciated, and maybe they had a flag or shirts with their logo and wanted to run in the parade? I know Jon would be VERY happy about any cheerful worker who wanted to help set up or take down the event! This is the kind of thing that makes the beaver festival seem imminently possible. Here they are gathered for their coffee run in May.

I hope the Martinez Beavers Run Club is around for many, many years and reminds people cheerfully of the plucky spirit of our beavers which did what no one thought they could (or should) for a decade. They brought out the community in Martinez, and truly they brought out one other thing. Which is the subject of our NEXT discussion.

Alan McDonnell: Do beavers have to be made into a political issue?

It is less than a month since we discovered a family of beavers on a river near Beauly. Watching footage of two kits playing in the water near their lodge, we did not foresee how abruptly their fate would be determined by politicians’ need to be seen to be doing something. We know beavers have been controversial on Tayside, but this corner of the Highlands isvery different.

There is no way of knowing where this population has come from. It is possible they were released, but we think it is more likely they have escaped from a private collection. From evidence along the river, we know beavers have been in the area for at least five years and do not appear to have caused anyone any problems. Trees for Life has supported the return of beavers to Scotland for 25 years. They can improve the health of rivers and lochs, reduce flooding, and create wetlands that benefit many species. So following the announcement from environment secretary Roseanna Cunningham’s last November, that reintroduced beavers can remain in Scotland, we have been looking into the scope for establishing a population in the Highlands.

When we found the beaver family near Beauly, we spoke with Scottish Natural Heritage and proposed engaging with local people to discuss whether these animals could be allowed to stay where they are or look at other options that could work well for both the animals and the community. But shortly after the news reached the Scottish Government, Ms Cunningham announced that the beavers are to be trapped and removed. She is determined to avoid a repeat of the experience on Tayside, where arable farmers have seen crops damaged by an unauthorised beaver release with no measures in place to manage the impacts the species can have on farming. This is understandable – but we disagree with the idea that this should drive a decision to remove a beaver family in a completely different area.

Actively managing how their natural behaviour can affect farming and fishing has been key to these successes and has allowed them to benefit from the positive ways beavers affect the river environment and added to an area’s appeal to visitors.

A knee-jerk response to remove this beaver family will do nothing to address the impacts of beavers in Tayside, but it may deprive the Beauly community and environment of something very special. We have an opportunity here to have a different kind of conversation about wildlife – one that doesn’t lead to conflict and stalemate.

We need to listen to the concerns of farmers and fishermen, but let’s consider the opportunities beavers bring and see if any solutions can work. What have we got to lose?

Alan McDonnell is conservation projects manager at environmental charity Trees for Life

Nicely done Alan! Great letter. And I’m interested in the response you get for that. I’m not convinced they came from a escaped private collection OR an illegal release, since waterways are highways and beavers go long distances even over land. But who knows? It actually makes me think Scotland might be the very place to answer the question no one else could ever manage. Namely: What habitat do beavers prefer?

The impression I got from watching our beavers all those years, and seeing the beavers that tried to break into the habitat, was that beavers PREFER being in a small creek where they can dam, and have a lodge and a pond of their own, but when none is available they’re content to live in a bigger waterway where no dams are possible. (Like  the carquinez strait.) But Dr. Duncan Haley said that he thinks beavers PREFER to be in a large river and only move upstream and do all that work to live in smaller ones when things are over crowded.

The relatively untapped puzzle can best be settled by following a population of beavers in an area where there have been NONE for 500 years so there’s no competition. You see why Scotland is the perfect place to answer this question? Bring on the researchers!

But as for your original question, “Do beaver issues always have to be political?” After a decade of careful research, Martinez can tell you firmly that the answer is

YES.