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

Thank goodness we got those beavers out!

Posted by heidi08 On July - 20 - 2014ADD 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.

Goofus and Gallant – Beaver Version

Posted by heidi08 On July - 18 - 2014Comments Off

Do you remember those days at the dentist reading Highlights as a kid? There was a cartoon describing a boy who did things right, and one who got everything wrong? (Before you ask, there were no girls at all, because we obviously weren’t important enough to have moral development).

I couldn’t help but think of that looking at this mornings beaver news from Canada. Let’s start with Goofus from (where else) Saskatchewan.

Red Willow Run and the need for beaver management

A combination of excess rains and beaver dams letting go led to a large mass of water flowing through the Red Willow Run in the northeast of Moose Mountain Provincial Park territory, which affected not only parkland but farmland and roads further down the run in the R.M. of Wawken.

Weatherald says there used to be trappers in the area who dealt with beaver east of Hwy 9 for the park, but that beaver management in this area hasn’t been a priority lately. The trappers who used to work in this area are mostly too old for the work and younger generations are not picking it up, which seems to be a trend in trapping.

Not only are those poor trappers too old to work. They are obviously  too old to LEARN. Just a thousand miles west they are a a lot smarter about beaver management.

Trying to get along with neighbours

Not far from a spot where a beaver toppled a tree on to a power line, sparking a brush fire last summer, four volunteers work to ensure the industrious rodents can’t chew through another pine.

They’ve spent the morning behind a townhouse complex which abuts Kanaka Creek wrapping trees with wire to protect them from a family of beavers.

“Coexistence is the new strategy,” says Leslie Fox, the executive director of the Association for the Protection of Fur-Bearing Animals.

 The “Fur Bearer Defenders” were called in after several trees nibbled by the semi-aquatic animals fell on to townhouses.

 Instead of calling a trapper, the strata opted for a more humane approach. “I think trapping’s days are numbered,” said Fox.  “One of the things we’ve noticed with trapping is the conflict it causes in the urban environment.

“What ends up happening is people’s pets get caught. It doesn’t solve the problem and it creates a danger for people who live near [the traps].”

But maybe you’re thinking, sure that’s fine for protecting trees. But what about the real problems beavers cause? Like flooding and blocked culverts?

Mission, like many other municipalities, had a long history of manually breaking apart dams, as well as trapping and killing beavers.

 But since last year, Mission has embraced methods that prevent beavers from building a dam in the first place.

 Besides tree cages and pipes in dams, Mission has also been building wire fences around culvert intakes, to interrupt the beavers’ natural instinct to build where there’s current and the sound of flowing water.

 Dale Vinnish, the public works operations supervisor told Black Press last year, the devices “work awesome.”

 “We don’t have to trap beavers. They moved elsewhere. They’re not causing a problem,” Vinnish said.

 The “beaver deceivers,” at $400-$600 apiece and built in one day, save the District of Mission thousands of dollars, because workers no longer have to pull apart dams.

 Previously, the municipality would break down two to three dams daily, several days a week, in addition to paying for the capturing and killing of about a dozen beavers annually.

And that’t the beaver version of Goofus and Gallant, which if you’re lucky is coming to a country near you soon. For our readers following along at home, which story do you like better? Who do you think is doing better  on the graph below?learning curve


Three New Obstacles to DEFRA’s Plan

Posted by heidi08 On July - 16 - 2014Comments Off


Wild beaver kits born in Devon’s River Otter

 A wild beaver which is due to be taken into captivity has given birth to three young. Two adult beavers, one juvenile and the three young, known as kits, are now believed to be living on the River Otter in Devon.

 The government had said the beavers would be rehomed, as they could be carrying a disease.

 But wildlife campaigners said they hoped to get permission for them to stay. Sightings of the animals in the River Otter were believed to be the first of their kind for centuries.

 What great timing! This whole escapade has a perfectly timed campaign-air to it. First make international news everywhere by getting a farmer to film beavers for the first time in centuries and then – just when DEFRA has argued that they need to be taken to the zoo, release video of the new KITS. Which will go viral very quickly. I can’t embed it but click on the photo to go to the BBC site and see for yourself.

I feel like this could mean something – not for DEFRA obviously because they’re soulless badger killers, but for the public campaign to tie DEFRA’s hands.  If I were an English beaver supporter I’d put this footage EVERYWHERE and install 5 more cameras to get more adorable glimpses into beaver life.

I think at the moment the scoreboard looks like this.


Seems DEFRA hasn’t forgotten it’s sinister lines yet…

The Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs said the animals could be carrying a disease “not currently present in the UK”.

 ”We are taking precautionary action by testing the beavers,” a spokesman said.

 ”This will be done with their welfare in mind.”

 He added the department would wait until the kits were a suitable age before testing them.

Call the WAAmbulance! More beavers hurting fish.

Posted by heidi08 On July - 11 - 20141 COMMENT

Hermosa Creek restoration to help native cutthroat trout

The Five Rivers chapter of Trout Unlimited is soliciting volunteers to help with a cutthroat trout restoration project Saturday on Hermosa Creek behind Purgatory.

The work involves restoring disturbed areas around the fish barrier built last fall on the East Fork of Hermosa Creek. Volunteers also will breach beaver dams and perhaps install “beaver deceiver” devices to stabilize flows.

 While cutthroat thrive on the upper end of the East Fork, non-native species have taken hold in the lower end and in other Hermosa Creek tributaries.

 Beaver dams harbor refuges for non-native species.

Let’s pretend, for the sake of argument, that you’re actually right. And that beaver dams make big hidey holes for non-native species. Let’s pretend we could go INSIDE those holes, under the water, and look around to see the bad bass and wrong kind of trout lurking next to all that woody debris. Terrible.

What’s that? Right beside them? Oh that would be the NATIVE SPECIES which also are sheltered in a beaver pond. In fact they are MORE adapted to the area because they evolved with beaver for millions of years and understand conditions and passages. One might even say the ponds are a REFUGE for them. Certainly during the dry summers. And the frozen winters. And all the days in between.

But why use logic. Just rip out the beaver dams. I’m sure that will make everything better. Well it will make everything drier. That’s good for cutthroat trout, right?

Protecting Banks from Money…

Posted by heidi08 On July - 10 - 2014Comments Off

Campaign to keep Devon’s beavers from being evicted

Yet despite this, the apparently thriving beavers on the River Otter are being handed an eviction notice. Last week Defra announced it would round up the errant beavers.

 “There are no plans to cull beavers. We intend to recapture and rehome the beavers and are currently working out plans for the best way to do so,” Defra said in a statement.

 The stated reason for their decision is that the beavers, if introduced from an eastern European country, could be carrying an undesirable tape worm.

 The tape worm called Echinococcus multilocularis is a nasty parasite, mainly if you’re a fox or a coyote. In North America and Central Europe, where it is endemic predators, can pick it up from rodents like mice. The worm slowly works its way into organs like the liver and can, if left untreated, kill. Very rarely it infects humans.

However, all the beavers imported into England are from Norway or Bavaria where the parasite isn’t found.

Wildlife groups say the parasite is a smokescreen for a government acting in haste to placate a well connected angling lobby that is opposed to the animals returning.

 For their part anglers told Channel 4 News they have nothing against beavers themselves, its their impact on England’s poor-quality rivers that must be avoided.

 “Beavers could have lots of benefits for rivers, like bringing in woody debris,” said Mark Lloyd, Chief Executive of the Angling Trust. “But our rivers have other problems like low flow, pollution and habitat damage. But by putting in barriers to fish migration right now beavers bring more minuses than pluses.”

That’s right, the fishermen of England have drawn a line in the sand and said, we’ll put up with concrete and pollution and shopping malls but dammit! We won’t tolerate beavers! Milling about and mucking our damaged creeks doing who knows what to our migrating salmonids.

How many times have I written that protecting fish from beavers is like protecting banks from money? A million?

Just because some crazy American (and Norwegian, and Canadian, and Dutch) scientists have consistently argued that beavers have a hugely positive impact on salmonids by creating deeper pools, more food, cooler temperatures and essential habitat, never you mind. English fish are different. They’ve been without beavers for 500 years and they like it that way!

“Mis-placed concerns over fishing have superseded all of this,” said Derek Gow. “There is a huge opportunity being missed here.”

 Mr Gow had just returned from a meeting with Defra ministers about the beavers. He said he was hopeful that a way could be found for the animals to be tested for the disease but remain, under close observation, in the wild.

DEFRA wrote me and everyone else this week defending their decision and pretending not to understand why it was outrageous. They are clearly hell bent on making the broadest mistaken intervention since we went to war with Iraq. And like that botched decision this one is being fueled by yes men, ignorant advisers and bad science. And will be paid for for years to come.

If I were DEFRA I’d be very, very careful moving forward.

Ask the Experts

Posted by heidi08 On July - 9 - 20141 COMMENT

Beaver proves to be nuisance neighbour for Bathurst-area man

Hazen McCrea wants the province to deal with beaver dam blocking a culvert for fears of flooding

Beaver dam blocks culvert by Hazen McCrea’s home

A beaver dam is blocking the culvert that drains Hazen McCrea’s property and he’s worried about flooding if the provincial government doesn’t do something to help. (Bridget Yard/CBC)

The structure is starting to interfere with proper drainage of the 81-hectare property and if the beaver continues construction, McCrea worries about where all the water will go.

A beaver dam is blocking the culvert that drains Hazen McCrea’s property and he’s worried about flooding if the provincial government doesn’t do something to help. (Bridget Yard/CBC)

But he says every time he calls the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure, he gets the run around.

Department officials told CBC News the beaver dam is not in the department’s right-of-way and suggested contacting the Department of Natural Resources.

New Brunswick is on the other side of Maine located about 500 miles from the inventor of the beaver deceiver which protects culverts (Skip Lisle in Vermont).  I’m not clear why New Brunswick is so totally unprepared for beavers, except that its very near PEI which is NOTORIOUS in dealing with beavers. Maybe all that helplessness and beaver stupid  floated in with the tides?

anne-trapping(Indulgent aside: This is one of my first and favorite graphics in the history of my beaver life. I couldn’t find it at first in my files – but no worries. I just googled PEI Beavers and it was the first image that came up.

Hahaha. I must be very popular in the region.)

beaver taking bath

Lory sent this photo the other day and it deserves our adoring attention. It also reminds us that it’s kit season and well-meaning rehabbers from  Calgary to Kentucky are inheriting the orphaned beavers of a trap-happy world. It turns out taking care of kits is a lot more complicated than most people realize. I do all I can to funnel information to our good friend and adviser Cher Button-Dobmeier of the Abbe-freeland Animal Sanctuary. She has rehabbed thousands of beavers and realizes the mistakes folks are most likely to make.


Cheryl and I have been begging her to write something for the rehab section, but she is resistant. “Every kit is different” she says. “And I don’t want people to feel like they are confident in what to do. I want people to ASK and keep asking, so that we can spot the problems before they become un-fixably fatal.”

It’s hard to argue with that.

Cher Button-Dobmeier, Director
Abbe-Freeland Animal Sanctuary, Inc.
8104 Terwilliger Rd.
Angelica, NY 14709

Beaver Independence

Posted by heidi08 On July - 5 - 2014Comments Off

Beaver Believers has hit the final 12 hours of their Kickstarter, and producer Sarah Koenisberg says she’s proud, humbled, and excited by how it’s gone! Someone has stepped forward and will match all  funds raised above $15k – pretty awesome!  So we have until 3pm today to make one final press to support this important film – the only film to feature our own Martinez Beavers and their festival! Please check your penny jar and see if you have anything left to spare.

Jon and I were on the bridge last night watching out for beavers with the massive foot traffic that was making its way down to the fireworks. Many surprised passers-by saw 4 beavers, including the little peanut who was taking advantage of the very high tide to get out of his playpen, over the secondary and swimming through the secondary to look for treats!  This is the most horrible footage in the history of the world with all the bouncing foot traffic on the secondary, but at least he had the good sense to go back inside after this. Fun to hear so many visitors saying they saw the documentary on PBS about beavers and they couldn’t wait to come back to this years festival! Even a family from Walnut Creek who were all members of the SF Scottish Fiddlers and wanted to play this year but there wasn’t room!

It looks like Derek Gow in Scotland is thinking about a legal battle over the Devon beavers and that’s music to my ears. The sinister part of DEFRA’s decision is that the conclusion of the Scottish Beaver Trial means the final decision will be made in 2015, which means beavers will be formally back in the UK and protected. So they want to get rid of these refugees NOW while they’re still unsafe. Isn’t that rotten?

Expert may mount legal challenge to Defra’s beaver removal plan

Mr Gow said: “The Eurasian beaver is a former native species. There is significant national and local support for the restoration of this species and a wider appreciation within society of the ecological benefits that would accrue from its presence. Britain is now the last large western European nation state where the species has not been reintroduced.”

 In conclusion, he said the beavers on the Otter should be captured and tested and – if clear of the EM disease – be tagged and re-released following a survey to ensure the river was a suitable home for them.

 Mr Gow added that he and his colleagues would consider a legal challenge if Defra went ahead with the capture and re-homing programme.

 Go Derek Go! He has been lone voice for beaver in the region for so long, but the tide is changing and he’s not alone anymore. And this is just the kind of negative ad campaign Martinez learned was so effective in raise public support for beavers! Nice work DEFRA!

I was a little more surprised to see the Austrian version of this story running Cheryl’s photo! But it’s on wikipedia so that means everyone in the world can use it. Your welcome!

Capture And even if you had your share of fireworks last night, you HAVE to watch this because it’s a historic first that was never possible before and may never be legal again. This was filmed by drone last night from INSIDE the explosion of fireworks in West Palm Beach Florida in May. It had a couple thousand hits when I first saw it last night, now it is cresting 2 million. Aside from being the single best use of a drone ever, watch all the way through, because it will blow every part of your mind.

Apparent this amazing use of the drone caught the attention of authorties and is illegal. Check out the disapproving article on Forbes. But if Jos Stiglingh does ever get in trouble for this his attorney only needs to show the video to the jury. Because it’s awesome.