Archive for the ‘Beavers’ Category

Ná leathnaigh do bhrat muna féidir leat á chosaint.

Posted by heidi08 On July - 19 - 2017Comments Off on Ná leathnaigh do bhrat muna féidir leat á chosaint.

Which is an old Gaelic proverb that means something like “don’t unfurl your flag if you aren’t able to defend it” OR don’t pretend that you are good for the environment and wetlands if you can’t back it up with the research. Fortunately for us, the beavers of Scotland are all they claimed to be, and the headlines are sweeping the nation. Literally.

CaptureEager beavers experts at recreating wildlife-rich wetlands, study reveals

The extraordinary ability of eager beavers to engineer degraded land into wildlife-rich wetlands has been revealed by a new study in Scotland.

Scientists studied the work of a group of four re-introduced beavers over a decade and found their water engineering prowess created almost 200m of dams, 500m of canals and an acre of ponds. The result was a landscape “almost unrecognisable” from the original pasture that was drained over 200 years ago, with the number of plant species up by nearly 50% and richly varied habitats established across the 30 acre site.

The researchers say their new work provides solid evidence that beavers can be a low-cost option in restoring wetlands, an important and biodiverse habitat that has lost two-thirds of its worldwide extent since 1900.

“Wetlands also serve to store water and improve its quality – they are the ‘kidneys of the landscape’,” said Professor Nigel Willby, at Stirling University and one of the study team. Earlier research by the team showed how beaver dams can slow water flows, reducing downstream flood risk and water pollution.

Beavers build their elaborate waterworks to create pools in which they can shelter from their traditional predators, bears, wolves and wolverines. The new research, published in the journal Science of the Total Environment, regularly surveyed the site near Blairgowrie in Tayside where two beavers were released in 2002 and began to breed in 2006. Beavers live 10-15 years in the wild and the average number of beavers present during the study was four.

“After 12 years of habitat engineering by beaver, the study site was almost unrecognisable from its initial state,” the scientists concluded: “The reintroduction of such species may yet prove to be the missing ingredient in successful and sustainable long-term restoration of wetland landscapes.”

Alan Law, another member of the team from Stirling University, said: “We know lots about the benefits of beavers in natural settings, but until now we did not know the full extent of what they can achieve in present-day landscapes where restoration is most needed.”

He said wetland restoration usually involves ditch blocking and mowing or grazing to maintain diversity: “Beavers offer an innovative, more hands-off, solution to the problem of wetland loss. Seeing what beavers can do for our wetlands and countryside highlights the diverse landscape we have been missing for the last 400 years.”

“I think as long as beavers have plenty of space to form a decent number of territories, there are enormous potential benefits,” said Wliby. “Sometimes the negative views of farmers can dominate.”

Lovely to see so many good things about beavers in an area that is doing it’s very best to bring them back. Alan must be the most fully discussed researcher in Scotland, although I’m guessing he gets a few mean looks at the Annual Angler’s dinner. I love how we get to learn this all again, because they’re learning it for the first time. When you teach, you learn twice they say. (Although it does make me chuckle a little to open 100 headlines in one morning saying basically “this just in! Beavers make dams which improve biodiversity!” No kidding? Next you’ll be telling me that  water is wet!)

Still it’s great news, and it might help the Beauly beavers a little too.

Take a moment to send your most positive thoughts to our good friend Beth Pratt-Bergstrom had to be evacuated from her hillside Mariposa home because it is in the fire path at the moment. Her husband and pets are hanging out at the shelter. We at Worth A Dam and the entire wildlife community wish you cooling rains, no wind,  and very hardworking firefighters.

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Looks like the kits outta the bag!

Posted by heidi08 On July - 16 - 2017Comments Off on Looks like the kits outta the bag!
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Rusty Cohn

The rule is only good news on Sunday, right? There’s a painstaking amount of beaver stupid going on right now but I’ll stifle my impulse to ridicule and focus on the positive. They are being treated to beautiful kit show in Napa since last weeks coming out party. Now the little peanuts are wandering far upstream on  their own and coming back whenever they dam well feel like it. Rusty has his work cut out for him, jogging up and down the creek to follow them, but he’s holding up bravely under the joyful strain.image009

Tiny Tail: Rusty Cohn

 

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2017 kit: Rusty Cohn

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2017 kit Rusty Cohn

Ohhh so precious. What adorableness! We think there are (at least) two because if you look closely one’s eye looks a little puffy and the other is bright and shiny. And just to prove they really are better than us, Rusty snapped this at the pond for good measure, sigh.

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Great Blue Heron in Flight: Rusty Cohn

I see Rusty is now posting the photos on facebook so I guess that means the cat’ser kit’s – officially outta the bag! Maybe you should take a field trip and see for yourself?


Onward to the generous donations from Suzi Eszterhas to the silent auction. She can’t be at the festival this summer because she’s leading a tour photographing humpback whales calving in the Tonga.(!)  So she wanted to donate and show her support anyway. You can see how committed she is to wildlife and making sure we take care of it. She sent three lovely books and a archival quality stunning print. Take a look for yourself.

The books are delightful accounts of hand rearing rare species that will be sure to encourage the budding naturalist in your life. But it was the print that really blew me away. A little back-story: very often during her time photographing the beavers on our creek she would tell us that she wouldn’t be there the next few nights because she had to nip down to Monterey or Morro bay to photograph some baby otters. And I would (as I’m known to do) give her a hard time for filming precious sea otter eye candy when beavers were way cooler and needed her more.

But suddenly, I almost understand why. Shhh don’t tell the beavers.

 

 

Paths that cross

Posted by heidi08 On July - 11 - 2017Comments Off on Paths that cross

Well the beaver gods were kind to me yesterday. The wonderful artist Amy Gallagher Hall wrote me back and said she was a great beaver fan and had seen the new kit THAT VERY NIGHT! She thought what we were doing was wonderful and wanted to help, but alas she was leaving for an extended back packing trip and would be gone for three weeks during the festival. She definitely would like to help next year though!

I also heard from Jake Chant of the Devon Wildlife Trust who was advised by Mark Elliot to reach out to me (ME!) specifically on the overlap between the river use between beavers and people along the River Otter. Issues included recreational swimming by people, dog walking, and fly-fishing. There had been a near beaver attack a few weeks ago on a dog that got too close for comfort. Did I have thoughts about what might help?

Okay, I confess, I was chuffed that folks 5361 miles away would as me for advice, but then I got serious and told them that the primary issue of dog attacks happened in June and July because the beavers were protecting offspring. If they could get folks to keep their dogs on a leash in the morning and evening during the summer months it wouldn’t be an issue. The rare cases where beavers attacked human swimmers were all beavers with rabies, which the UK has worked very hard not to have.

And as for the fly-fishers worried about beaver attacks because the scary beavers slap their tails at them in the water?

(What enormous sissies, I thought but didn’t say.) What I did say was that there are plenty of fly-fishermen in the US who love beavers and introduced him to Dougald Scott. Dougald is on the board of directors for the NCCFF and the salmon restoration federation and wrote a great article on the importance of beavers  in the 2012 newsletter. I sent him a copy and said he should go looking until he found an un-phobic beaver friend that loved to fly-fish- because education requires allies. And if you can’t find one, make one!

And then I sat down and realized I should have had this thought years ago.

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