Archive for the ‘Beavers’ Category

Reaching and Teaching

Posted by heidi08 On October - 27 - 2016ADD COMMENTS

captureAnd it came to pass that the CBC picked up the story, making it known in all of Canada and beyond that four men in Wolseley did something heinous for sport.

People in Wolseley, Sask., upset after beaver killed with chair

There is zero new information on the crime but that cute photo of a beaver doesn’t hurt the cause any, so thanks for that.

In the meantime I guess this beaver’s battle is lost but the war goes on. And Worth A Dam is on the front lines as always. On Thursday we were asked by a the Helen Schuler Nature Center in Alberta, Canada regarding use of bottom teethCheryl Reynolds great photo of beaver teeth for an educational display on beaver adaptions. To which she graciously agreed. And yesterday I was asked by the preserve manager of The Nature Conservancy in Rhode Island if my poster was copyrighted and could anyone use it? To which I replied they were welcome to use it for educational purposes but the name Worth A Dam should appear somewhere on it because it was our design.pyramid

I would just point out that these two recent examples represent an educational broadcast range of some 4000 miles that our hard-won beaver knowledge has informed, which ain’t too shabby for a small-time organization that was formed to save a few beavers. Both organizations have large backing and structural support but they are asking this little mom-and-pop  beaver group for assistance.

Which is pretty dam cool.

Cruel and Unusual

Posted by heidi08 On October - 25 - 2016ADD COMMENTS

Remind me never, ever to say October is a great month for beavers again. That was a  stupid thing to say.There is no great month for beavers.

captureSo the little Hamlet of Wolseley Saskatchewan is reeling today after the surveillance camera outside a bakery found footage of four men beating a beaver to death with a chair.  If you can stand it go watch the news report above and if you can’t stand it at least read this and write a letter.

Many people in the small community of Wolseley are disgusted and disappointed after hearing word that a beaver was brutally beaten to death Friday.

“I’m sad to think we have people that would do that sort of thing,” said local resident Joselyn Linnell.

Residents of the community say surveillance video from a local bakery showed four men leaving the local bar, then grabbing a chair to beat the beaver.

“The beaver hissed at them and they beat it to death with a chair,” said Linnell. Many residents in the town are upset that the incident took place.

“Very ashamed, this is a good town with good people in it,” said Candice Malo of Wolseley. “Doing that to an animal is disgusting.”

Linnell said the beaver has been wandering around the community for about a year.

“We have beavers in town because we have a lake and a dam,” said Linnell. “They are here naturally, so he was seen as a friendly guy.”

RCMP say they’re investigating. According to Animal Protection Services, if any animal is inhumanly killed, the guilty party could see a maximum penalty of 18 months in jail and/or a fine of up to $25,000.

chairYou won’t be at all surprised to lean that Wolseley is in Saskatchewan- the region most notoriously ignorant about beavers in the entire hemisphere and a place that for the last five years has held bounties and kill contests to eliminate them.  Four drunken men don’t swing a single chair, and if there was an ounce of social decency or pressure in the entire community the other three would turn him in. But of course that won’t happen because beavers are ‘pests’. And why not kill a pest with a chair?

I started my day by writing the town administrator, the environmental minister of Saskatchewan and the head of the region. Maybe you should to? At the moment there are only TWO news stories about this horrific event on the entire internet, and I think that needs to change right away.


Here’s the open letter our friends at Furbearer Defenders just sent.

Dear Premier Wall,

It was with sickening sadness that we read the news of a group of men using a chair to beat to death a beaver late last week.

We have no doubt that your government will work with police to ensure that those involved in this deplorable act of animal cruelty will be swiftly identified, charged, and convicted for their crimes. The Fur-Bearers, a national organization with more than 70,000 supporters, is today contacting the RCMP detachment investigating to put forward an offer of a reward to assist their efforts to identify the culprits.

Although your government would never condone such actions, we fear that attitudes leading toward such behaviour is endorsed by policy.

Beavers are a keystone species that are essential to healthy ecosystems. They are sentient, family-oriented animals that create and maintain habitats that encourage biodiversity and provide invaluable ecological services to a country that, in many ways, idolizes their hard work and perseverance. But promotion of ongoing beaver culls, and a lack of humane education or compassionate planning options have, even if subconsciously to the public, encouraged the idea that beavers are disposable pests or commodities.

We urge you, Premier Wall, to speak out against these actions, and show the rest of Canada – and the world – that the people of Saskatchewan are compassionate and believe in co-existence.

The Fur-Bearers would be proud to work with you or your office in developing educational materials at no cost on co-existence, compassionate conservation, and science-based policy.


Lesley Fox

Executive Director

The Fur-Bearers

Thank goodness their letter was picked up by Yorktown this week and they are offering a reward for information on the assailants. Help the out by donating here:

I’ll be more outraged tomorrow, but this morning I’m just heartbroken. I hope that little unlucky beaver died right away.

The good news and the bad news…

Posted by heidi08 On October - 21 - 2016Comments Off on The good news and the bad news…

We haven’t seen our wayWard™ street beavers since the last week of September. Jon has been down faithfully in the evenings and we have looked all over in the mornings from Green street to the corp yard. I was starting to feel like they had left us and getting a little sad.

Then I got an email yesterday from “Leslie” who wondered how to discourage beavers from chewing her trees. I get these kind of queries all the time from the web site so I thought nothing of it. I wrote back about how to wrap them and asked her as an afterthought what part of the country she was in just in case I had a local contact that could help her more.

MARTINEZ, she answered.

img_1587Turns out she lives around the junior high where our AWOL beavers have been hanging out for the last week.  Jon went to check out the damage. The beavers had taken two rough barked willow trees from the bank near her house. Meanwhile I scrambled to contact the maintenance crew there and get something out  to the neighbors about protecting trees.

Here is what I sent out as post cards yesterday.


Our two beavers were there last night and this morning again. Our friendly beaver-spotter volunteer can watch them from her deck. While we’re happy they’re still around we aren’t exactly thrilled about the odds of getting every single resident in the area excited about having beavers, and there is really nothing we can do to make them move down stream where its safer. She said they took the trees 5 days ago which would have been during the heavy rain when it must have been easy for them to swim up far.

Lets hope the next big rain doesn’t leave them at Arch street!

In the mean time I assume this means they didn’t have offspring because I can’t imagine they’d go exploring with kits. I’ve racked my brain to think how to get them down here and can’t think of anything yet. I guess they might try building a dam up there because the walls are so narrow and steep it will seem easy, but the first big rain will blow it out because there’s just too much water pressure up there. And that might eventually convince them its a bad idea.

That’s about all we have in our favor at the moment.

In the meantime if you have any friends or contacts in the area please give them a heads up and we’ll cross our fingers.  And I’ll keep trying to make friends with the Junior High.

Really nice beaver reporting from Vermont Public Radio, the home state of Skip Lisle. You really should find time to listen.

Outdoor Radio: Inside A Beaver Lodge capture

Mountain men didn’t ask for directions, either.

Posted by heidi08 On October - 19 - 2016Comments Off on Mountain men didn’t ask for directions, either.

There’s going to be another historical post. It cannot be helped. There is only one way this works and that is if I get to write about what I’m thinking about beavers every day. Even if I’m thinking about something that happened 175 years ago that affected beavers. Trust me, this is going to be fascinating.

I had suspected that reading through Zenas Leonard’s account of the passage through the Sierras would be like reading the Odyssey – dry with details and slumber-inducing. Instead it was like taking a kayak through the rapids. Zip! Zip! Zoom! So much amazing distance covered in such a little time and very hard to climb out of.

One of the first things I noticed is that mountain men didn’t ask for directions, either.

While they’re starving on the mountain skree, struggling to find a pass, and eating their starving horses at a considerable rate, a scouting party comes across an indian hiking purposefully through the snow. Do they ask him how the heck to get over the mountain? Or where he is going? Or maybe just follow him and see for themselves?

No, they shoot him and creep back to camp.

Another pair of Indians they meet later are so startled they drop the basket of acorns they were carrying and run away. They don’t follow these either. But they do take the basket and eat roasted acorns that night, which made a nice change from horse. They had very little regard for or interest in the native peoples, describing them as ‘slothful’ ‘ignorant’ and ‘filthy’.  This is even though they marveled at the pumpkin,  corn and squash they saw being grown once they made it over. Zenas was especially suspicious of the tribe he meets later in SF because even when the troop rode closer the natives continued with their fishing and didn’t pay attention to the white men at all. (Imagine!) At one point Leonard observes that they ‘all seemed to be from the same tribe‘ since they were the same shade and spoke the same language.

(Sure. I’m pretty sure that common native tongue was later identified by the scholars as ‘Notenglish‘).

But back to the Sierras, eventually they crawl through enough snowy terrifying spaces that they find themselves on the other side and Zenas notes tellingly,

redwoodAhh this is what made folks think they were in Yosemite. But there are four other stands of Giant Sequoia and historians have argued over whether they might have ended up at Calaveras instead. They quickly started thinking about trapping again to pay for their trip, and hunted about for beaver sign. Leonard describes beaver as ‘scarce’ in the area.  But never mind, I got more interested in what they saw as they headed down that mountain. The night of November 12 the sky seemed to explode with falling lights and the men and horses were terrified of certain death.


Apparently, coming out of the trees they had the bizarre fortune to witness the largest meteor shower the country has ever known. Starting a little before midnight on the November 12th, 1833 and continuing until dawn that morning, a meteor shower occurred that was visible across the entire United States. Typical Leonid showers have a rate of something like 5 meteors an hour. This had more like 100,000. Famous poets, abolitionists and pastors all described it in horror and awe. Fathers woke their wives and children to pray because they were sure it was the end of days. Even Abraham Lincoln wrote about it years later.

And even though you didn’t think you knew about this amazing moment in history it is captured in a famous song you did know, with a title from the book of the same name published shortly after the event.

The odds of them surviving the Sierra pass at all are pretty incredible. The odds of them living on cricket and starving horseflesh and acorns aren’t good. But the odds of them arriving out of the dense redwoods in time for this extravaganza were stunning. Consider that for a moment. The very next day the men were terrified to hear a great crashing all around them,  and were sure some huge animal was bursting through the trees to chase them. It seemed to get louder the faster they rode away from the treeline.

But we know what it really was, right?

The crash of ocean waves was proof of the success of their journey and divine assurance that America really did have a “manifest destiny” after all.  They rushed down to the shore in time to see a very rare three mast ship far out to sea. Again the odds of such a meeting were stacked against them. There weren’t many ships sailing around the Pacific coast at the time. This was a whaling ship named the Lagoda from Boston. When they hailed it by fashioning a  large flag the captain sent out longboats and invited them aboard for  dinner.

Most of the 57 men went aboard and had a grand feast drinking cognac from Captain  Baggshaw’s private reserve. Later Zenas commented that it was the first bread, butter and cheese that any of their company had eaten in two years.hospitality

So they made buddies with the crew and captain and agreed to meet up again in Monterey. They got all the gossip on the natives and the Spaniards they were likely to meet along the way. Leonard doesn’t say whether they talked about the Meteor shower but they must have. It had to be at least as terrifying at sea as it was coming out of the forest. Maybe even more so.

Afterwards they slept off the cognac and started their way down the peninsula through what is now the Bay Area. And the craziest coincidence of all? When they were leaving San Francisco and picking their way over the marshlands they came across the skeleton of a narwhale.

No, really.


You can never step in the same river twice – or can you?

Posted by heidi08 On October - 16 - 2016Comments Off on You can never step in the same river twice – or can you?

Shaun Clements, research scientist for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, tests the waters of the upper Deschutes River for environmental DNA. Scientists are now collecting eDNA to tell what species are present in aquatic populations.

What if you could take a thimbleful of water in Alhambra Creek and analyze it to learn what species lived in the water before now? Were there beavers? Coho? Wayward dolphins? With eDNA you can learn all that and more. And the science is just getting started.

Technology, DNA, may revolutionize fish and wildlife monitoring in streams

Enter the latest technology – environmental DNA (eDNA).

It’s actually been around for years, but the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s research branch is the latest to embrace science-fiction-become-reality.

From a test tube of untreated water taken in a river (lake, reservoir, etc.), scientists can determine what various species live in or near the water, based solely on the DNA they derive from microscopic particles found in the water.

“Environmental DNA … is naturally released by all living organisms (including people),” read a recent department news release. “The water in rivers and lakes contains millions of DNA particles, each with a unique signature. By sampling the water and decoding the DNA, researchers can tell if some … came from a coho salmon, beaver, spotted frog or other species.”

Isn’t that cool? Think about what it will be like when the science gets a little more specific and can tell you WHEN the population of leopard frog was greater or when beaver first appeared in the area.  I imagine it like DNA rings on an old tree – we’ll eventually get better at counting them and then the sky’s the limit.

“We are working towards a future where our biologists can collect a water sample, analyze it on site, and determine which of Oregon’s native and non-native aquatic species are in the general vicinity,” said Dr. Shaun Clements, research scientist for ODFW. “eDNA has the potential to revolutionize fish monitoring.

What they aren’t as sure of yet are how the eDNA moves, where the fish (frog, beaver, etc.) emitted the sample or even whether it originated in the same water.

While the department’s effort is new, the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management have been monitoring DNA from streams for several years across western Oregon and Washington.

There are plenty of mysteries I’d like eDNA solutions to. Like evidence of beavers historically in the sierras for example. In the meantime a girl can dream can’t she?

Our Beaver-buddy ‘Sylvie Biber’ from the Save the Tay beavers FB group posted this yesterday. Footage of the ostentatious ‘Mrs. Bob’ beaver and her five (yes five) new kits. Special moments of loveliness to watch for include the kit’s tail-up swim in the beginning, Mom’s four visible teats which I haven’t seen this late in the year here, the lovely eye whiskers/vibrasae in dawn lighting, the adorable mutual grooming between mom and kit, and the beautiful ‘kit reach’ at the end as the faulty visual tracking and depth perception of a young beaver clashes with the ever growing appetite and he reaches for a branch that is beyond his grasp.

Not to mention the LOVELY background noises of quail and dove that sound nothing like the ambient trains, garbage trucks and homeless cursing we get in Martinez.

I’m am deeply jealous of this moment. But I keep telling myself to be grateful. Martinez had a ‘long turn at the trough’ as they say.

Sir beaver-killer

Posted by heidi08 On October - 8 - 20162 COMMENTS

And so it goes. The day after the BBC published the best articlec in the history of the world on why to keep beavers , the Telegraph ran this charming piece.

Eccentric baronet offers £1,000 reward to kill beavers on his estate because they are ‘devouring’ his trees

After being extinct in the UK for centuries, the recent reintroduction of beavers into English wildlife was celebrated as a “change in our relationship with the natural world”.

But now an eccentric baronet has threatened to scupper the £750,000 plans by posting a £1,000 ‘dead or alive’ reward for beavers he claims are ruining trees on his estate.

Sir Benjamin Slade, who owns Woodlands Castle, a 17th century house within 12 acres of private parkland in Somerset, says the animals are committing “crimes against trees” and breed “like rabbits”.

wantedWhat a fine example of British stewardship!  No beaver has chewed a tree on that land since 100 years before the castle was built, but rather than greet this return with the awed joy it occasions he wants to pay someone to shoot it for him. Because that’s what rich people do in England, I guess. After buying the outfit, of course.

A colony has subsequently been established in the River Otter in Devon, from where it is believed the beavers on Sir Benjamin’s land may have migrated to the nearby River Tone.

A spokesman for the Devon Wildlife Trust told the Telegraph the five-year plan could cost up to £750,000.

The Trust’s Steve Hussey said: “We would like to make contact with the landowner to see if we can come to another solution that does not involve killing beavers.

“It is true that beavers will cut down some trees but they are not going to fell forests or woodlands or anything like that. You can take very easy straightforward protective measures to stop beavers felling trees.”

Ahh but where’s the fun in that? I mean wrapping trees isn’t NEARLY as cool as shooting beavers. Or pretending to shoot them.  But Hurray for that brave little disperser slipping up the river Ptter to try out life on the river Tone. He’s got 500 years to make up for!

Now of course there’s a poll and you NEED to vote because at the moment the assholes in funny clothes are winning. Since I already voted I can’t tell if this link is active anymore, but if its not click on the article and scroll down.

“You get people shouting about how beavers are wonderful,” he said. “But they are not. They are a nuisance.

“They eat the trees and strip them of their bark. They’re not endangered. They are endemic. They breed like rabbits and are all over Europe. They put bite marks everywhere, it’s just terrible. The trouble is that if you chase them they disappear under the water and you can’t get them.”

The 70-year-old, who made his fortune as a shipping magnate, has no children and has previously said he would bequeath the Maunsel House estate to whichever stranger most closely matches his DNA, provided they were not Guardian readers, communists or drug users. He has frozen his sperm and still hopes to father a child.

Well, well, well. How very sorry are we that your stock will die out in a few years. That is unless any of you ladies are tempted by is spermscicle.  Apparently the castle is rented out for weddings and corporate parties. You know the sort. Let’s hope this round of advertising has a very decidedly negative effect on business.

Too bad. Because Beavers Mate for Life. It could be a theme  you know. Ecotourism with a little pagan good luck charm thrown in.

What am I saying? You’re obviously an idiot and incapable of learning new things. Tell me this though, I’m dimly curious. Why would a hunter in green rainy somerset need desert camouflage?



Move over HCN, this might be the best beaver article EVER.

Posted by heidi08 On October - 7 - 2016Comments Off on Move over HCN, this might be the best beaver article EVER.


Come in and close the door. Are we alone?

I’m going to share something fine and rare, like a glass  of the extraordinary 1811 Château d’Yquem. And your job is to snif the boquet, hold it up to the light, and slowly savor every amber moment. Do not guzzle this down and look for the next article or the one after that. This is the best article.

The. Very. Best.

Beavers are back in the UK and they will reshape the land.

Alex Riley: BBC Earth

On a June morning with a thin cover of cloud above, I was here [in Devon] to meet Richard Brazier, an environmental scientist from University of Exeter, and his post-doctoral colleague Alan Puttock. They are running a one-of-a-kind outdoor experiment.

Today, things have changed. The undergrowth is overgrown. Lopsided willow trees dominate, sending hundreds of shoots and stems into the air, each pining for the light above. A thick blanket of green foliage erupts from the peaty soil. Flora is blossoming, fauna flourishing. With their long cascade of pink bells, foxgloves rise high from the purple moor grass below. Butterflies and bees flutter from flower to flower.

home“The biodiversity is booming,” Brazier tells me as we approach the wire fence through a field of coarse grass and rushes. “It’s alive.”

Behind this fence, every species – plant and animal– depends on the behaviour of just one: the Eurasian beaver. Since their introduction in March 2011, a breeding pair of these large rodents has been as busy as, well, beavers.

They have raised a family. They have built a lodge to live in and gouged deep canals through the land for getting out and about. And, of course, they have chopped down trees and built a series of 13 dams from sticks and mud. The woodland stream has been, and is being, transmogrified into wetland.

It is easy to see why beaver are known as “ecosystem engineers”. But it is Brazier and Puttock’s task to find out what these large rodents are engineering exactly.

“When this animal existed in the tens of millions in Western Europe and Eurasia, it was a dominant landscape force, in the way that wind and water and fire are,” says Derek Gow, a beaver and water vole consultant from Devon.”

Honestly, this was such flowing beatitudes and well-written prose that I honestly paused and thanked the lucky stars that England has been unreasonable as long as it has. Where else would we possibly get such persuasive and well crafted descriptions if it wasn’t for the stubborn bureaucrats who required endless persuasion? Take this section about coppicing for instance.

The homebody beavers are instead content to gnaw on willow trees from dusk until dawn, within the confines they have been allocated. By coppicing these trees, beavers promote new shoots to form on old trees.

It is an old relationship. Humans have been coppicing willow for 8,000 years in the UK, but beavers have been doing it for around 10 million years.

Not only does the willow get a new lease of life, but beavers benefit too. When placed within their dams, willow shoots continue to grow, creating a natural and self-reinforcing building material.

Ahh. Just imagine what the scarred earth would look like if beavers were allowed to work their magic in peace?

“Where water would travel 180m in tens of seconds at maximum velocities, now you’ve got a situation where that water’s taking hours if not days to move through this site,” says Brazier. “And it can only be attributed to these dams.”

Beavers dampen any hydrological extremes, reducing the peak flow of water and making it stay longer in the

area. In contrast, the drainage ditches that line the surrounding fields sweep rainfall downstream in a flash.

Flooding occurs. Water from headwaters accumulates quickly when the land levels off, not only breaking the banks of rivers but also the bank accounts of many homeowners. The infamous UK floods of 2007, for instance, caused an estimated £6 billion of damage.

Beaver can help, Brazier says. By slowing the flow – while storing 650,000 litres of water behind each dam – these mammals are a natural method of flood prevention, before the flood has even started. They can protect our homes, by building their own.

And by mastering the art of imperfect engineering, beavers also stem downstream droughts. The dams are not watertight. Water is slowed and stored, yes, but it is not stationary and made stagnant. “It’s so slow,” says Brazier, as he points out how each pond is a metre lower than the one before. “It’s like a big escalator staircase with water gently moving through.”

ecosystemAre you imagining? I sure am. What if our dry California creeks were moistened by beavers and the flashy overflowing paths of the east coast storms were slowed by beaver dams. The country would be a different place entirely, and the wrath of climate change would be less drastic.

“The more you look at beavers, the more you understand the other species that exist in the habitats they create,” adds Gow. “Beavers are basically the generators of life.”

A beaver is not just an animal. It is an ecosystem.

Aaand SCENE!

In ten years of writing about beaver writing that is the single finest sentence I have ever read. Thank you, Mr. Riley for defining a movement with your pen. My clipping an snipping doesn’t come close to doing the piece justice so make sure you head over to read the original right now and send it to everyone you know because its THAT good.

And when its all finished go read it again because there are lovely uppercuts to the fishermen and references to the new Bridge Creek study as well. Mr. Riley did his homework, and we all get the benefit.