Archive for the ‘Beavers’ Category

Beaver Victorious

Posted by heidi08 On November - 25 - 20162 COMMENTS

thistleYesterday was a RED-LETTER day in beaver fortune, as the ministry of the environment in Scotland finally handed down her judgment on the fate of their beavers. And it was GOOD news!

Beavers to remain in Scotland

 24/11/16 14:59

Species set to receive protection, but will require careful management.The Scottish Government is minded to allow beavers to remain in Scotland, Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham has announced.

Ms Cunningham has said the species will have to be actively managed, in line with practices in other European countries.

Work has now begun to ensure beavers can be added to Scotland’s list of protected species as soon as possible. It will be the first time a mammal has been officially reintroduced to the UK.

Scottish Ministers have agreed that:

  • Beaver populations in Argyll and Tayside can remain
  • The species will receive legal protection, in accordance with the EU Habitats Directive
  • Beavers will be allowed to expand their range naturally
  • Beavers should be actively managed to minimise adverse impacts on farmers and other land owners
  • It will remain an offence for beavers to be released without a licence, punishable by up to 2 years imprisonment and an unlimited fine

“I have been determined to find a pragmatic approach, which balances the biodiversity benefits of reintroducing beavers with the obvious need to limit difficulties for our farmers.

“I want to put on record my appreciation of the efforts of the Scottish Wildlife Trust, NFU Scotland, the Royal Scottish Zoological Society, and Scottish Land and Estates who have worked in partnership to set out a way forward.

“Beavers promote biodiversity by creating new ponds and wetlands, which in turn provide valuable habitats for a wide range of other species.

“We want to realise these biodiversity benefits while limiting adverse impacts on farmers and other land users. This will require careful management.

Management techniques to prevent beaver damage, such as controlling flow through dams, or protecting valuable trees can be carried out without a licence.

More intensive management techniques, up to and including lethal control, are permitted under the Habitats Regulations for specified purposes and subject to there being no other satisfactory solution, and no adverse effect on the conservation status of the species.

The Scottish Government will provide advice and assistance to farmers in understanding their options and helping them implement mitigation and prevention measures.

The truth is, that if I had sat down and written a wish list of things the Scottish government would decide in determining the fate of the beavers, that is about pretty darn close to what I would have written. Beavers get protected status, check. Both the fancy official trial beavers in Argyll and the scrappy free beavers on the river Tay, check. People can use Mike Callahan’s training to install flow devices without a license, check. And farmers will receive education and assistance to manage problem beavers, check. If lethal means are needed they need to get approval √√√√!

Pinch me I’m dreaming!

Ohhh and guess what else? The beaver as been afforded ‘Native Status’ in the country, which it apparently lost after being absent for 5oo years. To which I’m pretty sure a beaver wold reply,
Mighty white of you, indeed” Ahem.

The good news was 1907433_10153301580531388_4434474127587187905_nblasted on the BBC and Guardian yesterday, and I’m sure several whiny farmers had very unhappy afternoons. But our good friends Paul and Louise Ramsay were thrilled, and their beaver group facebook page rang with congratulations far into the night. Paul ran a photo of a special shirt they’re taking orders for, and you might want one I think.

I, of course, had to mark the occasion with my own beaver braveheart FREEDOM speech, which I’m sure is more amusing to Americans than to Scots.

Honestly, this website has been so attentive to the beaver dilemma in Scotland for so long this victory feels personal. All the way back since the days when we were thrilled about the Argyll beaver trial  to the sad day when they decided they were going to catch all the ‘free beavers and put them in zoos’ to the woeful death of Eric in the Edinbur0 zoo, to the great news they were going to stop trapping while they made their decision, to the story of the first secret beaver conference abroad! I got my only strike on youtube for sharing a fantastic video that ran on Nature Nuts there, and made friends with so many of the heroes in this fight. Including professor Lavelle who wrote me yesterday over the moon with the good news!

I can’t believe all the campaigning, letters to MPs and MSPs ‎has finally paid off! Who knew politicians sometimes listen? I am so excited I will not sleep for the next week. This is the best political news of the year. Well, it would be the best news of any year, but given the disasterous year we’ve had this is even more welcome.

Forward brave beavers of Scotland!

Suilin xo

Dr. J. Suilin Lavelle. 
Lecturer, Philosophy, 
University of Edinburgh.

It was our second beaver festival when the children’s parade placed the clay beavers they had made on the map of Scotland, which I had signed by the minister I met when he visited the  John Muir site. It’s touching to see this now and remember how far we’ve all come.


And a child shall lead them…

Posted by heidi08 On November - 24 - 2016Comments Off on And a child shall lead them…

Mike Callahan posted these photos on the Beaver Management Forum page. This is a first year robotics team called the “Greenheads” with a leader that employed Mike recently to install a flow device and unflood a trail in Massachusetts. Vance the leader blogged about it nicely which I’ve excerpted. You can read about the whole project here:

This fall The Greenheads are taking on the Animal Allies Challenge.  The challenge is composed of Core Values, Project and Robot Game components.  For The Project, they were tasked with:

  1.  Identifying a problem when people and animals interact.
  2.  Designing a solution that makes the interaction better for animals, people, or both.
  3.  Sharing the problem and solution with others.

The team began by conducting some online research.  This led them to consult with beaver expert Mike Callahan from Beaver Solutions.  During their interview, Mike explained that beavers are a Keystone species and their work is critical for biodiversity.  He did a great job describing how the work that beavers do can be a nuisance for people but how simple solutions can be deployed to remediate common problems seen when people and beavers interact.  The kids proposed their idea of building a bridge to replace the current planks on trail 75 and Mike offered feedback on the pros and cons of such a bridge, along with the materials that could be used.

I couldn’t be more proud of The Greenheads.  Their teamwork was first-class, they had a lot of fun, and they learned a great deal about the importance of human and beaver interaction.  Their solution is certainly an improvement over the previous one and hopefully their efforts will improve the alliance between people and beavers by allowing the beavers to continue to improve biodiversity and water quality in the area while permitting people full access to the trails throughout the year.  The team is now sharing their work with the community and preparing for their upcoming robotics event later this month.  Go Greenheads!!!

They went on to teach other teams and their class mates what they did and why beavers matter. Look closely at their lovely folded beaver display because you might recognize one of the photos. (And no, I didn’t photo shop it in!)

15094490_10207721030807646_3424192691888347207_nFrom Vance G. in Ipswich, MA: “Just a quick update. Thought you’d like to see some pictures from their event this past weekend. They did a great job educating the judges and other teams about beavers.”

student-displayno-martinez-keystoneThat’s right, with a decade of blogging and designing, we’ve created a trickle down beaver economy that will keep pollinating itself long after we’ve gone! That’s my graphic in the middle using Scott Stolsenberg of Ohio’s awesome photo and about 20 other artists silhouettes because creation requires collaboration.

Even without beavers in residence I guess there’s still lots to be thankful for this year. Have a wonderfully thankful day!

thanksMORE TO BE THANKFUL FOR! This just in: Beavers approved in Scotland!

Beavers to remain in Scotland

The Scottish Government is minded to allow beavers to remain in Scotland, Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham has announced.

Ms Cunningham has said the species will have to be actively managed, in line with practices in other European countries.

Work has now begun to ensure beavers can be added to Scotland’s list of protected species as soon as possible. It will be the first time a mammal has been officially reintroduced to the UK.

Scottish Ministers have agreed that:

  • Beaver populations in Argyll and Tayside can remain
  • The species will receive legal protection, in accordance with the EU Habitats Directive
  • Beavers will be allowed to expand their range naturally
  • Beavers should be actively managed to minimise adverse impacts on farmers and other land owners

It will remain an offence for beavers to be released without a licence, punishable by up to 2 years imprisonment and an unlimited fine

Research has shown beavers, which were native to Scotland before being hunted to extinction in the 16th century, provide important biodiversity benefits.

Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham said:

“I have been determined to find a pragmatic approach, which balances the biodiversity benefits of reintroducing beavers with the obvious need to limit difficulties for our farmers.

We are soo SOOO happy for our Scottish beaver friends. I know for a fact it was a heck of a lot of working protecting them in a single city. Imagine how much harder it was to protect them in the entire COUNTRY!!!! Congratulations Paul and Louse et al al al!!!!

Actual Help vs Hired Help

Posted by heidi08 On November - 22 - 2016Comments Off on Actual Help vs Hired Help

Glastonbury Connecticut was settled in 1693 with just 13 families in Pyaug on the eastern bank of the CT river,  making it one of the oldest municipalities in the country. Just in time for Thanksgiving it really was obtained by negotiation the local tribes and the purchased for just 12 yards of trade cloth.  (I’m sure it was worth every penny!)

Glastonbury very kindly offers us this story in time for Thursday’s offerings.

Beavers Block Glastonbury Plan To Drawdown Blackledge River Pond

hc-glastonbury-beaver-drawdown-1122-20161121-001Beavers 1, Town of Glastonbury 0.

Last month, the conservation commission approved a plan by the town to empty Blackledge River pond. The town had hired Milone and MacBroom, a Cheshire engineering firm, to create a plan to remove the 19th-century dam and reconstruct the river directly east of Blackldge Falls Park.

Only one problem. The beavers that call the pond home had other ideas.

According to Daniel A. Pennington, director of physical services/town engineer, beavers have not only added a layer of sticks, branches and mud to the top of the dam to raise the pond’s water level an additional 6-8 inches, the rodents have also plugged up a release value with the same material making it too difficult for the town to release the water. The town threw up the white flag.

“The beavers have won this battle,” Pennington said.

Ha! The beavers may have won this battle but not the war, because I dare say you’ll be back in the spring and to trap them out. I mean why let some beavers restore a creek naturally when you can pay experts millions of dollars to do it for you?

The town is removing the dam to help migratory fish species, including Atlantic salmon, sea lamprey and American eel navigate more than two miles of habitat up the Blackledge to the Gay City State Park dam. The Blackledge winds through Hebron, Glastonbury and Marlborough before linking with the Jeremy River. The two waterways form the Salmon River in Colchester which flows into the Connecticut River in East Haddam.

The town has a deadline of June 30, 2018, to remove the dam. It is estimated the removal and restoration work will cost $1.2 million.

Well, readers of this website all know about the relationship between beavers and salmon, but I thought I’d do a little reading up on the lamprey which I’m less familiar with. Turns out beaver friend Duane Nash of Southland Beaver has a whole column about their important connection, so I’ll let him take it from here.
Lamprey may be so important that their continued survival may be pivotal to the health of salmon fisheries. How is that so? you might be asking They parasitize and sometimes kill salmonids?

Turns out the lamprey youngsters, which are called ammocoetes, are not parasitic at all. In fact they do not even eat flesh- they filter the water, cleaning up algae, detritus and other bits from the water – and also burrow into the substrate. For these reasons they are often dubbed the earthworms of the river.

At this stage, which may last 7 years, ammocoetes serve as food for a number of critters- especially salmonids. There are loads of examples of steelhead stomachs being found just crammed with these guys. So although later they parasitize salmon, for the majority of their life they serve as food for them. And through their filter feeding abilities they promote cleaner, and therefore more well oxygenated environments that we all know salmonids love.

And now let us all tie it all back together with the beaver. From the USFW page on lamprey: Shortly after hatching in freshwater streams, lamprey larvae or ammocoetes drift downstream into areas of low velocity and fine substrates where they burrow, and live as filter feeders for up to 7 years. Hmmmm….. low velocity and fine substrates….. where might we find such habitat? Does anyone know of certain buck-toothed rodent that might actually create such habitats?

Thanks Duane! Someone tell the selectmen of Glastonbury that this beaver dam is already doing more to help the lamprey and salmonids than anything Milone and MacBroom is going to excavate or construct. Not to mention all the life you will destroy or displace by draining the creek. Every place you allow beavers to settle they will architect slower, more complex streams that help fish and restore the ecological conditions you once enjoyed.

Plus they work for free. I’m pretty sure you can think of somewhere else to use that 1.2 million. Right?

Emotions should be used to defend gun rights, not wildlife.

Posted by heidi08 On November - 21 - 2016Comments Off on Emotions should be used to defend gun rights, not wildlife.

How odd, I was curious why there seemed to be no beaver news lately so I rechecked my google alerts. They had vanished! Well, fortunately I repaired them just in time to get the PERFECT alert for an artcaptureicle that deserves my comment perhaps more than any other in recent years. It is Len Lisenbee’s gloating commentary on the Montana Trapping Law’s failure to pass.  The headline itself is misleading, since it should read “Election bodes well for our right to kill wildlife”. But I couldn’t have mockwritten this article better myself. Even his photo looks like great work from central casting.

Election results bode well for wildlife

Many people might not know it but, besides Donald Trump’s rather amazing and certainly unexpected victory on Nov. 8, there were also several important conservation items on various state ballots. And there can be little doubt that our fish and wildlife resources also won important and rather surprising victories.

I am not referring to President-elect Trump’s well-publicized stance on gun control and his four-square support of the Second Amendment. No doubt that position, all by itself, won him countless votes from among like-minded conservatives.

Here is one important fact: Rarely does any wild species benefit from emotional voting questions. Animals that are protected from hunting, such as cougars and black bear in California, are still subject to the laws of nature that include continued breeding, population expansion and eventual adverse interactions with humans and their pets and livestock.

The “Montana Animal Trap Restrictions Initiative,” listed as I-177 on the ballot, was designed by anti-trappers to greatly reduce and restrict trapping on public lands within the state. It’s history is sordid, lengthy, and steeped in deceptive misinformation and outright lies. And in the end, Montana voters were 63 percent against the amendment.

This initiative was extremely wide-reaching, and would have banned all trapping on any public lands. That prohibition would have included all city parks, municipal golf courses and all state owned properties everywhere in the state.

That’s right, in addition to electing Donald Trump class president, the wisdom of which will soon explain itself, this november showed its intelligence by protecting the right to kill wildlife on public lands.  Because the right to SEE WILDLIFE on said lands is obviously secondary to the right to kill it, which must always, always come first.

I’ll let Len explain, since he understands this so well.

Enter the voters in Montana. They were not fooled by the rhetoric spewed out by the anti-trappers. Many paid close attention to the advertisements favoring existing Montana Fish and Wildlife management. The vote results were a landslide, and common sense in the form of scientifically-based wildlife management was able to overcome emotions on this important issue.

What problems would this initiative have needlessly incurred had it passed? Based on similar ballot initiatives successfully passed in other states, the results would have been devastating. Local communities, counties and the state would have had to spend millions of taxpayer dollars to deal with “nuisance” wildlife issues. Species such as beavers, skunks and raccoons would have become living problems in short order. Wolves and coyotes would have caused major depredations on livestock, and they would have decimated deer, elk and moose herds within just a few years.

Arizona, California, Colorado, Massachusetts and Washington are the only states that have enacted a ban on trapping. All were the direct result of ballot initiatives. And all of these states are currently experiencing major wildlife-related problems as a direct result of their misguided efforts to end trapping.

With this argument, Len firmly attests that failure to allow the sporty take of wildlife will result in public lands having to pay for the depredation of wildlife. Which might well be true, I suppose. States with more recreational trapping have less depredation, period. (Although it might be better for the stewards and park rangers of that land to decide which beaver colony is causing specific problems   flooding culverts  rather than letting Jimbob decide whatever beaver happens to be closest to the car.)

But I would argue that the difference for the beaver itself is actually negligible, since it makes very little difference to a him whether he’s killed for sport or for convenience. And, of possibly greater importance, the loss to the public that would have wanted to bird watch or photograph the beaver pond is hardly mitigated by whether the beavers were made into fur or just gotten out of the way. Right?

One example I like to use is the beaver problem in Massachusetts. The anti’s managed to get an emotion-filled ballot initiative against all trapping passed. Everyone who voted for it felt good.

But in just two years the beaver population increased dramatically and the complaints began to pour in. Backyards and basements flooding from beaver dam back-ups were the primary complaints. And the trapping ban on beaver was rescinded by voters one year later.

Wildlife management by emotions is never a good idea. But there always seems to be groups of individuals who, for whatever reasons, want to bypass scientific wildlife management. They always use emotions, deceitful information and lies to make their various points. And it is always wildlife that suffer in the end when too many people believe the lies.

Those crazy beaver huggers that want to bypass SCIENCE and use their emotions to make decisions. Now, I know what you’re going to say reader, but lets lay aside the fact that his example is false, MA never actually overturned the law, and bypass the fact that the entire gun rights lobby would disappear in a puff of logic if we ever made decisions based solely on science and not EMOTION – laying all this aside for the moment—- let’s just allow Len to demonstrate his keen grasp of the issues with his pointed discussion of climate change.

Considering that “climate change” used to be called “global warming” until the warming slowed and finally petered out completely, and also considering that our climate has been changing since well before the dinosaurs died out, and also considering that carbon dioxide is considered to be the major culprit of no longer mentioned global warming and yet is absolutely necessary for maintaining virtually all life on earth, I would hasten to suggest that there is ample room for more than one opinion on this subject.

Whoa! You know, the outcome of this crazy election is finally starting to make sense to me. Thank you for that. In the face of such a mind-blowing steely-surfaced argument I can only reply this:


A Capital News Letter About Beavers

Posted by heidi08 On November - 18 - 2016Comments Off on A Capital News Letter About Beavers

Ottawa is the capital of Canada and just a few miles over the border from Vermont. The Ottawa-Carleton Wildlife Centre is a major defender of wildlife in the region and has been one for 25 years. The co-founder and president is Donna Dubreuil, who I first friended during some nasty beaver operations in 2011. Since then I have worked to funnel beaver information their way, and Worth A Dam was the subject of an earlier newsletter. She understands that saving beavers saves many species and is a great supporter of our ecosystem engineer. Recently she was kind enough to give a really beautiful endorsement for the upcoming newsletter I’m trying to put together for our 10th anniversary.


Now the center is wrapping trees and installing flow devices. They recently worked with a private land owner, the city of Ottawa and Mike Callahan to install three flow devices on some 31 acres if flooded property.


The story is a MUST READ for its sheer tenacity and unbridled success in the face of fairly daunting odds, septic tanks, stubborn officials, and  busy beavers. The Ottawa-Carleton Wildlife Centre is a VERY wonderful education and rehab facility and you should really think about supporting their work before you settle down with your morning coffee and enjoy great story. It might take a second to load but be patient! It’s worth it.


Beaver Assisted Water Management

Posted by heidi08 On November - 17 - 2016Comments Off on Beaver Assisted Water Management

Bob Kobres from Georgia is the retired UGA librarian who keeps a special watch on science news and research published that may be relevant to beavers. He generally sends me two kinds of articles: reports that draw attention to the role that beavers play in biodiversity and water management, and reports that should include a discussion of beavers, but don’t.

Guess which kind this is?

beaver physHow to stop human-made droughts and floods before they start

Alberta’s rivers are the main source of water for agriculture in Canada’s Prairie provinces. But climate change and increased human interference mean that the flow of these headwaters is under threat. This could have major implications for Canadian gross domestic product, and even global food security.

A new study published in Hydrological Processes sheds light on sources of streamflow variability and change in Alberta’s headwaters that can affect irrigated agriculture in the Prairies. This provides the knowledge base to develop improved to effectively adapt to evolving river flow conditions.

“This study is a call for better understanding of the complex interactions between natural and human-made change in river systems” says the study’s lead author, Ali Nazemi, assistant professor in Concordia’s Department of Building, Civil and Environmental Engineering.

 Nazemi and his co-authors developed a mathematical process to examine streamflow and climate data and carry out a case study on eight streams within the Oldman River Basin in Southern Alberta. They discovered various forms of change in the annual average streamflow and timing of the yearly peak in Alberta’s headwater streams throughout the 20th century.

“We saw that change in streamflow can be mainly linked to temperature variance, as well as to human regulations through water resource management,” says Nazemi.

Obviously creek flow has a lot to do with river flow. And how we treat our smaller systems affects the bigger ones. When we drain our our creeks, incise them so they produce flashy water, or fill them with concrete we affect the water rivers get to work with. And when healthy beaver dams are stepped gradually through our creeks they gradually release water over time and regulate outflow into rivers in  way that helps human needs and agriculture.

We  apparently don’t have the cajones to tackle climate change any time soon, but beavers have all the skill they need to alter runoff right now.

If we just let them.

Nazemi hopes that this study will lead to the development of effective regional water resource management in the Prairies and beyond.

“The major river systems around the world are now highly regulated by human activity—and the natural streamflow regime is perturbed by climate change. This study can provide a scientific methodology to understand the effects of different natural and anthropogenic drivers on river flows. This is the first step towards development of effective management strategies that can face the ever-increasing threats to our precious freshwater resources in Canada and globally.”

Read more at:

Exporting beavers

Posted by heidi08 On November - 16 - 2016Comments Off on Exporting beavers

Now that the Russians have all finished with the American election and got what they wanted they are apparently turning their sites towards Russian Beavers. You see? I knew that Russian charity misprint wasn’t a “typo”.

Beavers face deportation to Kazakhstan and Mongolia

Tomsk region overrun with beavers and aims for a cull by hunters, or sending them abroad.

Beaver numbers have reached 6,000-plus, when a population of 4,000 is seen as avoiding harm to nature. 

They damage trees and turn agricultural land into swamps by damming rivers. 

The head of the Department of Hunting and Fishing in Tomsk Region, Viktor Sirotin, said: ‘The population has increased due to the absence of wolves.’

Hunters should be allowed to kill beavers during the spring hunt for water fowl, he said.

But scientists propose deporting the beavers instead, claiming they can be useful to the environment in Kazakhstan and Mongolia.

Researcher of the All-Russian Research Institute of Hunting and Fur Farming, Alexander Saveliev, said: ‘Where small rivers dry up, the beavers create dams, and part of the water flow is stopped.

Near as I can tell, the Tomsk region is part of Siberia that is most uninhabitable because of thick forests and marshland. Even before the beavers got there. Where on earth they got the idea that the region can safely support only 4000 beavers but now has 6000 is anyone’s guess. You know they didn’t send a team of scientists on a beaver census.

Someone wanted to shoot beavers and just made up the numbers accordingly.  You  can’t really blame the Russians. It happens all the time in America too. The article bemoans the fact that there are no predators left to eat them, and you can bet hunters are feeling restless. Give it up for the pragmatic scientists that suggest beavers might be useful at storing water in other places.

Although I’m going to wager they won’t be hiring Sherri Tippie to relocate family units together safely. I’m thinking they’ll put them in empty oil barrels and load them onto a train en masse.