Archive for the ‘Beavers’ Category

Would you care for some WHINE with that Mr. Quinn?

Posted by heidi08 On February - 6 - 2016ADD COMMENTS

The fine report by the Vancouver Park Commission is taking some heat. Something was printed this morning from Stephen Quinn, the host of On the Coast on CBC Radio One. Obviously the paper felt the entire airwaves wasn’t space enough for him in which to broadcast his petulant opinions, and granted him a full page to write whatever he liked. In my head I hear the voice of Niles Crane writing this over an expresso, see if you don’t agree.

Biodiversity report wildly exaggerates the alleged upside of critters in the city

I have read with interest the so-called draft Biodiversity Strategy you released earlier this week and I have to tell you, it’s not sitting well with me. Frankly, it scares me, particularly the sections outlining measures that could lead to more wildlife running around our city. I urge you to take a more cautious and measured approach.

Let’s begin with beavers. While the Park Board apparently sees the increase in the city’s beaver population as a positive signal, I assure you it is no such thing.

I had never seen an actual beaver until a few weeks ago. Have you seen one? It was huge, like a giant flat-tailed rat with hideous teeth and beady black eyes. It was swimming upstream in Still Creek right beside the Superstore parking lot. I can tell you that just a short distance away there were mothers walking with their children! No one should have to face this sort of threat at eight o’clock on a Saturday morning in a place that is supposed to be nature-free.

Day-lighting the creek was a huge mistake! Your own report says salmon have returned and are spawning and then dying and if I may quote, “provide food for otters and mink.” So attracting more wild animals?Where does it stop? Bears? Wolves?!Capture

It goes on at some length, because word restrictions are only necessary for us persona non grata peons, not for celebrities like Mr. Quinn who’s afraid of beavers, wolves and bears. It all reads like those paragraphs so you can get the idea.  For my money the best line is, why would anyone want to daylight a creek anyway?

My hair was on fire this morning when I read through this tripe and burned out my response, but now I can see the humor of it. It’s almost  offers the best argument against itself by very quickly becoming absurd. If he didn’t have a national radio platform to beat his drum every day I could laugh this off. Hmm.

Your report also celebrates the “healthy populations” of other mammals like raccoons and skunks. Have you seen what

the mammals you love so much have done to my lawn – which already looked pretty terrible thanks to your ban on cosmetic pesticides? They have reduced it to mud, I tell you!

And then you say that 674 racoons have been killed by cars since 2001? Does that not tell you that animals like raccoons don’t belong in our city? I find it interesting that your staff can keep such an accurate count of dead raccoons but still not know how many coywolves are out there.

I had no idea that this golf course mentality existed in Canada. I thought it was uniquely American – a product of places with green lawns and clipped hedges. Thank you, Mr. Quinn for opening my eyes.

Of course I sent my letter to the editor. You should too.

Sometimes life in the beaver-biz is very rewarding. And sometimes it just annoys the stuffing out of me. Take this article out of Whinging-ton Ma for starters.

Hopkinton selectmen vote to trap beavers

HOPKINTON — Selectmen have agreed to hire a beaver trapper after flooding became a problem on the recently purchased Pratt Farm and neighboring properties.The board voted 5-0 on Tuesday night to pay for a plan to eliminate the beavers.“We decided we need to protect the town’s land,” Selectmen Chairman Ben Palleiko said in an interview.

Palleiko said the plan will likely cost about $5,500 — $4,000 for the trapping and $1,500 for taking apart seven dams. The board decided on an option known as a kill trap. A live trap would be as twice as expensive and the beavers would be euthanized at a later time, not released elsewhere, officials said.

How surprising! The folk in Hopkinton seemed so darned open-minded and committed to humane solutions! (Not). They have been gunning for those beavers since day one, and they kept promoting their death in the paper until they tipped the argument just enough. I especially admire the duplicity necessary to get this quote from their ‘beaver expert’ printed in the paper.

“Due to the beaver activity, an accurate flagging of wetlands may not be possible at this time, which will stall the work of the team,” she wrote in a letter to the board.The board made its decision after hearing from Malcolm Speicher, a beaver specialist, who has done work in town, including Legacy Farms. The town needs to seek bids for the work.

Speicher said it is only a matter of time before the town’s aquifers feeding to the town’s wells will be contaminated with bacteria from beaver feces.

Palleiko said Speicher believe there could be up to 40 beavers in the area.

Now mayfacepalmbe you’re wondering where they found this illustrious specialist. We are talking about MA, so maybe he’s at Cambridge? Harvard? MIT??? Ohhh no he’s a trapper who happens to specialize in beaver and fisher. So of course he knows all about beaver stools causing bacteria in the water.



And now this. Things  just got real in Mountain House. Now its time to bring out the big guns. Folks were shown Mike’s video about how to solve problems so they tried to think of an unsolvable one. We in Martinez know erosion trumps flooding. That’s why, after Skip’s flow device worked well and no one was worried about drowning anymore, the lawyer sent a letter about the foundation slipping because of unseeable burrows and that’s how Martinez got to buy 350,000 worth of sheetpile.

Obviously, this is deja vu all over again.  Officials are now saying the biggest problem is these.

20150923_145033You can guess how true I think this is. Coal mining beavers?

But I think it’s always good to ask smarter minds than mine. Glynnis Hood says that beavers in her research do cause tunnels that collapse and its possible that a bank lodge this big could exist if the beavers have been around for some time. And Mike Callahan says its theoretically possible if there are tunnels inside leading to the water.

But I think if in 10 years of having beavers in Martinez they ever excavated anything like that, the mayor would have personally thrown me in it. Michael Runtz says a bear could do this, but he doubts beaver.

Stay tuned, I’ll tell you when I hear from more folks.

Apparently beavers are going on Broadway now, with Alan Cummings new musical. This made me howl with laughter – especially the leaping ballet beavers at the end. Enjoy!

A few more gifts arrived yesterday, and I’m thrilled for beavers good fortune. The first was some promised plates from this adorable set at thirdhalfstudios. How fun are these?

And the second is a beyond lovely sterling silver floating necklace that arrived from Winterchild. Like this but with a beaver symbol and on a breathtakingly delicate sterling silver figaro chain. I’m not sure I can keep from bidding on this. You definitely shouldn’t.

Nature in the City Everywhere.

Posted by heidi08 On February - 4 - 2016ADD COMMENTS

The grand plan in Vancouver is sweeping the media at the moment and there are plenty of follow ups to the story if you want to see them. Try here and here.

Yesterday I was contacted by a member of the Grosse Ille Nature and Land Conservancy about the beavers in the Detroit River. She was very happy about what the return meant, and wanted to pull together some advocates to keep things headed in the right direction. The funny thing was, I remembered writing about this back in 2012 and saying: sure they’re happy now, but wait until those beavers start chewing trees of blocking culverts.

Beavers: marginally better than pollution!

Ahhh how Nice. Okay, mark your calendars and set your clocks, because as encouraging as this article is I predict it will be a matter of months before we start reading stories about neighborhoods with blocked culverts and chopped trees. Folks are excited when beavers come BACK to an area because they assume it means they did very good things to make it possible. Hughlet Hornbeck once explained to me that the beavers coming back to Alhambra Creek was proof that EBRP had been doing the right thing for 50 years, for example.

Then industrial pollution in the mid-20th Century made the Detroit River too toxic for beaver and many other species to return. The cleanup of the river in recent decades has seen many species making a comeback.

“This is one piece of evidence,” Hartig said of the latest beaver sighting. “But if you add in there the return of lake sturgeon, the return of lake whitefish, the return of walleye, the return of bald eagles, peregrine falcons, osprey, beaver, wild celery, it’s one of the most dramatic ecological recovery stories in North America.”

Beavers are still exciting enough along the Detroit River that the reporter does an excellent job researching their history and providing context.. Enjoy it while it lasts though, because in the blink of an eye they’ll be reporting that gangs of four foot tall beavers cut down all the trees and caused tularemia.

So it’s been three years and its time for folks to get worried about their challenging handiwork, I’m glad friends are starting to get ready for an argument. We of course will help any way we can.

Speaking of helping, I got these fun photos from the Mountain House beavers in CA, and will be working with a supporter to help her put together a beaver article for the local paper. How cool are these photos for thinking about urban beaver!


mountain house lodge

Mountain House Beaver Lodge: Caitlin McCombs

And this fine example of dam building with reeds. You see beavers use material on hand.

mountain house dam

Mountain House Dam of mostly reeds: Caitlin McComb

Yesterday I learned that the city’s primary concern is that they believe the beavers are digging tunnels under the road. The city has already filled some with concrete. For the life of me I can’t think of any reason a beaver would do THAT, so I’m guessing this story is about to get very interesting!

New donation yesterday for the silent auction from Mink Works, by animator and Illustrator Marielle Rousseau of New York. How adorable is this? I ask you honestly. Go check out all her stuff. It’s delightful and she’s a self-professed wildlife lover in addition to being a real talent,

Find beaver help near you

Posted by heidi08 On February - 2 - 2016Comments Off on Find beaver help near you

My vision is to have a beaver resource page with clickable links that can take you to help in your area. I just tried out a new toy to make this work. My goal is to make it clickable with lots of links embedded, but apparently only the premium version of the toy uses links, so I’ll do the scrappy version too. There are lots of empty states, but I’m sure it’s better than it was.

I’m so frustrated the links don’t work on the new toy, but at least it gives me an excuse to post this.

Right to Beaver-Life Movement gains Momentum

Posted by heidi08 On January - 31 - 2016Comments Off on Right to Beaver-Life Movement gains Momentum

There are some grim advances on the effort to get the farmer-fueled beaver shootings into the public eye in Scotland. Early in 2015 there were reports of this happening and a flurry of requests for the government to intervene and grant protected status to the animals. After some foot dragging, it looks like they finally found the right words to get it reported by the BBC. I can’t embed the news report but click on the photo to watch it on their sight.



Pregnant beavers shot by landowners in Tayside

Beavers that were heavily pregnant or had recently given birth are among those shot by landowners in Tayside. The news has led to demands for restrictions on shooting during the breeding season and renewed calls for Scotland’s beavers to receive legal protection

Experts at Edinburgh Zoo have now carried out post-mortem examinations on 23 beavers from Tayside. They concluded that 21 had been shot, although other sources have said the total number of animals killed in this way is significantly higher.

  • Two pregnant animals were shot. The size and weight of the foetuses indicates they were very near full term
  • Two other females which were shot had recently given birth
  • There were concerns about the length of time it would have taken some of the 21 animals to die
  • At least one animal contained lead shot. It is against the law to use lead shot to kill an animal in water.

Scottish Green MSP Alison Johnstone, deputy convener of Holyrood’s cross-party group on animal welfare, has called on ministers to “get off the fence”.

“Scottish ministers need to get off the fence, accept that beavers have a positive role to play in terms of biodiversity, and that they deserve legal protection.

Go read the whole thing, as this is a fairly thorough report. The FOIA really did its job in finding the grisly facts that would get this noticed. There has been considerable debate amongst the Tayside supporters as to whether it ultimately might make the beavers safer to offer some appropriate way to depredate legally OR whether they should just insist on humane solutions only.  I understand the dilemma.

For the record my advice is to emphasize mitigation first, but once humane solutions are exhausted to allow for responsible depredation, because folks need a reminder that there are options if all these good intentions fail. It took me a while to tolerate language like “sometimes trapping is necessary” but I got there. Because it ultimately helps beavers for people to feel like they have an alternative.

I just think it should be a lot harder to get there.

Here’s some of  what I wrote for the conclusion of our urban chapter. As I don’t know whether any of it might survive editing, I’m going to share.

It is our hope that in the future, when the inevitable occurs, this chapter can serve as a reminder to fully consider potential benefits and costs before a decision is made regarding the fate of these uninvited guests.While lethal solutions may at times continue to be necessary, we believe our urban waterways are often failed by the inability to recognize other viable options.

We wish our good friends in Scotland the very best of luck figuring this out. But getting the issue into the public eye is, as usual, the most important step.

subcommitteeA follow-up to the Mountain House beaver issue discussed Friday. I heard from the concerned resident who contacted me that she was asked by the official I spoke with to pull together an ad hoc committee to study the arguments.

A Tale of Beaver in two Cities

Posted by heidi08 On January - 30 - 2016Comments Off on A Tale of Beaver in two Cities

These two cities share pretty much the same latitude, (a chilly 44) and are merely separated by 1400 miles and a great lake, but they couldn’t be more different. Especially in their attitude towards beaver activity. Funny thing is these stories appeared on the same day and are reporting about the same issue. Demographics are desitny. Let me show you what I mean.  I’m thinking we should compare and contrast, and maybe try new toy.

Capture 1

Milton Ontario

Shorewood Minnesota

“I want to clarify that regulating a creek does not mean we own it,,” said Hassaan Basit, general manager at CH. It’s gotten to the point where it’s not just the odd tree,” said Dick Woodruff, a Shorewood City Council Member. “It’s an epidemic.”

“This natural debris can play an important role in natural flood management and introduces important nutrients into the system, supporting its ecological diversity,” he stated.

“The beavers are aggressively taking down trees,” many of which have fallen on roads and power lines, Mayor Scott Zerby said.

And although it might look bad, even the dead trees on the ground are good for the environment.

“It is sad to see a big tree chopped down but it does provide opportunities for new trees to grow. It’s cutting down a renewable resource,”

About 36,000 beavers were harvested in the state last year. Officials are discussing which kind of trap would be as pain-free as possible, Brown said.

The waterlogged beaver lodges may begin to shrink, but they won’t entirely disappear because it’s hard to remove a beaver permanently from any Minnesota location.

 “Honestly, we accept and appreciate what the beaver does.”  “They’re amazing animals,” Brown said.

I would write something witty about missed opportunities and missed IQ points, but honestly this morning it just bugs the snot outta me. Minnesota sounds a little frightened of the animal lovers, but they clearly have zero idea why beavers matter. And that just means they’re working hard to maintain their state of willful ignorance.

Now for some good news. Our willow fascines and states are waking up from their sleep! Soon they’ll be some LOVELY and alluring new trees in our creek to hopefully summon the beavers back.

willow glrowing

Yesterday I happened to really look at their fancy well-funded logo and realized it needed some improvements. Do you think they’ll mind?


No, silly. Not THAT kind of ‘T’

Posted by heidi08 On January - 27 - 2016Comments Off on No, silly. Not THAT kind of ‘T’

T in the park day is a huge musical event in Scotland that attracts around 250,000. The venue began in the 90’s and last year had 70,000 of its attendees chose to camp out on sight. The T ain’t for thermoses of the english breakfast variety. It’s for “Tennent’s” the brewery that started the festival.

But this year it might just stand for “Trees”.

New wildlife threat for T in the Park? Beaver spotted at Strathallan raises uncertainty over festival layout

A BEAVER has been spotted on the site of the T in the Park music festival

It is understood the creature is living on Strathallan Estate in Perthshire, where the event will take place in July.

Beavers were reintroduced to Scotland in 2009 after a 400-year absence.

It is unclear what, if any, effect the animal’s presence will have on the festival layout.

That’s right, an uninvited beaver will ruin the whole thing, obviously. Apparently someone showed a photo of a beaver chewed tree, and now folks are in a panic that the whole event might topple. Fortunately there’s at least ONE wildlife writer who doesn’t think it’s time to panic.

Wildlife writer rejects T in the Park beaver claims

A leading wildlife expert has distanced himself from claims that beavers could topple this summer’s T in the Park festival.

The Scottish Sun today suggested organisers face a new wildlife threat after evidence of beavers at the event’s Strathallan Castle home.

But naturalist Jim Crumley — quoted in The Sun article — said today there is no cause for concern.

“All I have seen as yet is a photograph (of a fallen tree), so I don’t know if this is one beaver passing through or if there is more activity in the area which might suggest a family group,” he said.

Mr Crumley said there are major differences between possible beaver activity at Strathallan and the recent case of a rogue beaver at Pitlochry, which was moved by conservationists last week.

“Unlike the Moulin Burn beaver, which SNH trapped and relocated, there is no problem here,” he said. “And the fact that one beaver has cut down a tree in January does not mean that T in the Park will be overrun inJuly.”

Oh you reasonable fellow! People want a nice panic – must you deny them? It’s a well established factoid that beavers ruin parties. Didn’t you know that?

Unless this year the event is EVEN BIGGER because folks want to come see the beaver!

Onto the new donation from our friends at Nerdy Cute in Olympia Washington. If you have any of those ridiculous kitten posters with that saying “When you get to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hold on” you can go ahead right now and throw them out. Because obviously this is much better.