Archive for the ‘Beavers’ Category

Congratulations Napa, it’s a BEAVER!

Posted by heidi08 On May - 27 - 2015ADD COMMENTS

Rusty sent this very excitedly last night. He was thrilled to meet this youngster for the first time, and believe me when I say I know just how he feels.

tail kit napa

New kit Napa: Rusty Cohn

napa kit

New kit Napa: Rusty Cohn








Just a reminder that we were lucky enough in Martinez to have kits with our old mom four years. And this will be the new mom’s fourth year too. We’ve had four kits twice, three kits twice, and one kit twice. I think that means this year the odds are in favor of having two kits. Don’t you?

dates1 It’s amazing to me to think that we’ve had our new mom almost as long as we had our old mom. And also to notice that our new mom is a little more attentive and protective of the kits than our original. They’re supervised longer and stay in the lodge longer. But it goes without saying that we will always love our original mom of the special tail best.

Because she was our first.

The importance of being semi-arid

Posted by heidi08 On May - 24 - 2015Comments Off

Georgia reader BK alerted me to this article in on a recently understood hero in climate change management. Apparently it’s not just for rainforests anymore.

Savannahs slow climate change

Tropical rainforests have long been considered the Earth’s lungs, sequestering large amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and thereby slowing down the increasing greenhouse effect and associated human-made climate change. Scientists in a global research project now show that the vast extensions of semi-arid landscapes occupying the transition zone between rainforest and desert dominate the ongoing increase in carbon sequestration by ecosystems globally, as well as large fluctuations between wet and dry years. This is a major rearrangement of planetary functions.

An international study released this week, led by Anders Ahlström, researcher at Lund University and Stanford University, shows that semi-arid ecosystems—savannahs and shrublands—play an extremely important role in controlling carbon sinks and the climate-mitigating ecosystem service they represent.

Tropical rainforests are highly productive, and this means that they take up a lot of carbon dioxide, but rainforests are crowded places with little room to fit in more plants to do more photosynthesis and to store carbon. In addition, the typical moist, hot weather conditions are ideal for growth and do not change much from year to year.

In savannahs it is different. As productivity increases there is room to fit in more trees whose growing biomass provides a sink, or store, for carbon sequestered from the atmosphere. In addition, savannahs spring to life in wetter years, causing large fluctuations in carbon dioxide uptake between wet and dry years. Large enough, Ahlström and colleagues show, to control the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

So we need the rain forests, but it’s the returning wetlands that really make a difference. Because of the sudden bloom that comes when a semi-arid region turns green. Gee, are there any semi-arid regions in California? Survey says yes. But what’s the point of discussing it on this website? Because a few well-placed  beaver dams could easily trigger this seasonal greening.

CDFW says that California is one of the few places where five major climate types occur in close proximity. Here, the Desert, Cool Interior, Highland, and Steppe climates border a smaller region of Mediterranean climate. Here’s their map of the different zones. You can see that the semi-arid regions stretch across the central valley from Stockton to Bakersfield and everywhere in between,

CaptureThese dry, warm areas are the places where a tree in standing near the house really make a difference to your family’s comfort. It turns out that a bunch of trees, bushes and foliage on the riparian really matter to the carbon we need to get rid of. So let’s just look at our depredation map and see how California is treating these bounty-makers in semi-arid regions. Something tells me it isn’t going to be good.

depredation permits in caUh-oh lots of dark blue in the modesto region. I guess those semi-arid places got even more arid shortly after those beaver were killed.  Oh well, it’s not like Climate change is real or anything. Besides they were interfering with the landscaping.

Once again beaver heroes are prevented from solving the problem they’re uniquely equipped to repair. And it’s another dry Sunday in California.

Words fail me. How about about a rhyme and graphic?





beaver limrick

 12 Angry Beavers


Tails in the City

Posted by heidi08 On May - 23 - 2015Comments Off

the missing pieceI found this picture when hunting around for an underwater shot of a beaver dam and just couldn’t resist. (I actually just noticed there IS an actual beaver on the right, but it’s still fun.) Apparently there are sadly no split shots on the internet of beaver dams, so someone please fix that, okay?

Speaking of missing things our beavers were missing last night, we saw no one come from the footbridge, one from the old dam and last year’s kit blithely hanging around ward street like the old days. I have to think its tidal. But it made me wonder if mom hasn’t moved her kits again. And where would she move them? I guess the old lodge next to the creek monkey.

We know she likes to move them around. That’s why I was able to get this two years ago.

Beaver kits are like easter eggs. You have to hunt around and find them yourself!

I saw this video posted on Facebook by our Idaho beaver friends. I notice when I first watched it a little ‘caution float’ as the beaver seemed to sense the photographer. My observation was confirmed by the tail slap that followed. That and this photo got me thinking about tail slaps in general. It was posted by photographer Lee-Anne Carver in Canada and is a beautiful look at the windup. This is the poise before the actual slap surrounded by unbelievable colors. She’s a really talented photographer.


Getting ready for the tail slap: Lee-Anne Carver

I was remembering when I filmed my first tail slap, a million years ago. It must have been this time of year in 2007, which means I knew nothing about beavers at the time. I went down to film the beavers in the morning and saw a huge otter sitting on the old lodge. I wasn’t even sure at the time what it was. A young beaver came and started slapping and slapping until that otter left. I remember I counted that he slapped 19 times, and was able to film the very last one, which is why you hear me say THAT, I GOT in this video.

It made me think that it was about time for Rusty to film his first tail slap in Napa. I guess my powers of beaver prediction are considered pretty honed in some circles, but even I was surprised to receive this from him last night.

It all happens so fast I thought a little slowing down would help. When you sail past the equator they give you a baptism with salt water. When you film your first tailslap you just get this. Congratulations Rusty!

World Wildlife Federation promotes Beavers

Posted by heidi08 On May - 22 - 2015Comments Off

CaptureSara Moore is a Sonoma-based climate writer and blogs for the WWF climate report. Guess what she decided to talk about in this issue?

California: The Rebeavering

The California case for beaver reintroduction is picking up steam.

Specifically, the case is being made for the benefits of beaver dams and their ponds to California’s high Sierra, where a disappearing snowpack is threatening the state’s summer water supply—and overall economy.

California faces peculiar beaver-reintroduction barriers not faced by other western states where people are starting to think of beaver ponds as a landscape restoration and surface water retention tool, like Arizona, Colorado, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming. And drought-plagued California might gain particular benefit from a new surface water retention tool.

Sara goes on to do a fairly deft recap of the beaver nativity issue and the research we did to prove it, and then even makes room for one particular city that decided to live with beavers.

Although individual cases of conflict can be solved (as they did famously in Martinez, CA, now the home of an annual Beaver Festival), there is a lack of information in favor of beavers as a way to solve problems. 

Thanks for the mention, but I think you’re wrong about missing information. We have tons of research on beaver benefits to salmon and riparian and carbon. What we’re missing is broadcasting and persuasion. There was a time I thought that more information would change peoples thinking, but now I realize that when people say ‘more research is needed’ they’re usually just stalling or looking for funding. There are about 20 people in the entire state whose minds could be changed by research about beavers. The rest are going to learn by watching, seeing, or getting public pressure. Come to Martinez and see for yourself.

The article ends on a cheery note:

So, the CDFW is cautiously showing interest in what the beaver believers have to say. There appears to be momentum behind locating and evaluating populations for possible increased protection. Sierra mountain meadows and their far-downstream neighbors, thirsty ranches and farms, may eventually see the benefits.

Hurray for beavers! Hooray for Brock and hurray for WWF. We need folks all over to be seriously thinking about this issue, at this starts the conversation nicely. If people want to learn more Sara has a great list of references at the end for further information and this introduces folks to the issues  very well. When you beaver photo gets into the WWF calendar I’ll consider it a real victory!


Can I complain now?

(I spoke with Sara back in April and our conversation was kind of unsettling. Of course I referred her to all the sources named in the article, and gave her background about all the states that allowed relocation. To tell the truth though, I’m surprised Martinez made it in at all, because she really wasn’t interested in solving beaver problems. She was interested in Relocation and couldn’t understand why I didn’t think it was the best idea EVER. As you can see, Worth A Dam, or my actual name appear nowhere in the piece, even when she refers to the papers we wrote on which I was second author (grr) – I guess I should be happy to get a link, and several links to articles on this website, an information source apparently so useful it isn’t even mentioned.)

This is me shaking it off. (Video of grooming beaver from Rusty Cohn at Tulocay beaver pond in Napa.)


Martinez Beavers go to Pacifica

Posted by heidi08 On May - 18 - 2015Comments Off

June 6th is my final beaver talk for a while and will be at the San Pedro Valley Park visitor’s center in Pacifica, ending one of the busiest 6 months of beaver-speaking I’ve known. It started with the SF waterboard in Oakland, then the State of the Beaver in Oregon, then the salmonid federation in Santa Rosa, then Trout Unlimited in Coloma, then SARSAS in Auburn and Safari West in Santa Rosa. Now there’s just one left and then I can focus on the festival.

San Pedro Valley SPV is a county park in the peninsula hills described as A vast area embracing the middle and south forks of San Pedro Creek, which are Steelhead spawning grounds, this park is nestled amongst the Santa Cruz Mountain range and the foothills of Pacifica. “ They also happen to be interested in having beaver, and originally contacted me thinking relocation might be an option. I explained that the only way to get beaver in California right now is to let them come to you and they invited me to come talk about benefits and solutions. They did an awfully nice blurb on their newsletter. I especially like “repatriated”.nice bioThey might not have all that long to wait. We have a beaver sighting 5 miles east at the water treatment facility, and a beaver killed on the highway 5 miles south. Since several forks of the San Pedro Creek flow through the park, the odds are good beavers will find their way eventually. underwater adaptions Since it’s a new crowd I thought I’d work on some new graphics, which is always fun.  This should remind me not to leave anything out when I discuss their physical adaptions! And this could be a good prompt for discussing beaver chewing of trees and why not to panic.

chewedBut the last was the most fun to do.  And really will be the most powerful. Because, in the end, it isn’t science that saves beavers. Even though it should. People don’t change their minds because of data.  We all learned first hand in Martinez, it’s not brains that convince. It’s hearts.

kits get a lift

A silly thing and three special things

Posted by heidi08 On May - 17 - 20151 COMMENT

First the silly thing….

Beaver cuts tree down, starts grass fire south of Saskatoon

Capture SASKATOON – A beaver caused a large grass fire Saturday, according to the Saskatoon Fire Department. The blaze was located near Valley Road, south of the city near The Berry Barn.  The fire department says the animal chew ed down a poplar tree which fell on a power line.

Those beaver arsonists are the worst! Smoking in bed, starting fires with their appetizer course, with zero regard for personal property. They obviously don’t know how hard it is to put up those power lines in the first place.

Now, let’s share in the wondrous developments at the Napa beaver pond, where Rusty has been patiently waiting for a glimpse of the new kits. Of course while he’s waiting there’s lots to see. Check out this weekends bounty.

He even got video of two otters at the sight having a little tussle. Megan of ROEP thinks it mighthave something to do with mating. How exciting!

Now for this truly stunning photograph brought to my attention by someone I can’t yet bring to your attention. Isn’t this BEAUTIFUL?

kit ride

This is the kind of photo that every wildlife watcher dreams of getting. That perfect moment when opportunity crosses your path and everything goes right. He writes that it’s a mother carrying her kit, which is a fair assumption. But we in Martinez know it might not be true. The most stunning footage I ever got was dad carrying both kits. And we only know that because of mom’s beautiful tail clue.

This is the kind of photo that saves beavers, so I hope Jeff doesn’t mind too much if I share. You can see Jeff’s remarkable work on flickr here.

And finally the best for last. Now pull up a chair and gather close because this is really important. First, a little background. In the films about Grey Owl they describe him doing a special call to bring the beavers. The way a duck call brings ducks. Which I would have ignored as silly if I hadn’t also read in a book about someone who hand-reared kits in Canada who said that their brother was a trapper and he taught her to call beavers. She noted that it was so powerful she would never teach anyone else because she didn’t want trappers to use it. So I was curious.

And then there’s Bernie Krause’s amazing recording of the beaver after the dam and his family was blown up. It sounds very much like he is mourning. But I after I heard it I always wondered if he was calling to find them. (Which is what we would do if our homes were blown up and we weren’t sure if our family members were inside.) I discussed this idea with him, but he was fairly disinterested. But then yesterday – out of NOWHERE – I stumbled on this.

I know that readers of this site mostly don’t click on the videos. Life is busy and who has time? Believe me when I say you want to see this. (I was so scared it would end badly I practically watched it with my eyes closed the first time. But nothing bad happens, trust me.) And this is really, really worth your time.

(I trust if you know any trappers, you won’t show it to them.) And honestly, don’t practice this call on our beavers because they’ve been through enough. But isn’t that amazing? Do you realize what this means? It means parents call kits. And beavers call each other. I am sure this is a youngish beaver, looking for his family. What surprised me was not only that it existed, but how very different the sound is from a kit whining. Almost like loud nasal mooing. Also I could hear the similarity in the young beaver answers, and hear how similar it is to our kits whining. It made me think that beaver kits are imitating adult speech – just like children!

Honestly, this is a big deal. Such a big deal that I got an email last night from Bernie Krause himself.

Beavers don’t have Lodge Owners Associations

Posted by heidi08 On May - 14 - 2015Comments Off

Family of beavers face eviction from their adopted pond in Ada subdivision

ADA TOWNSHIP, MI – A family of beavers that has moved into a pond at the Ada Moorings subdivision may soon be evicted, despite the impassioned protests of neighbors who live in the surrounding houses.

The beavers have endeared themselves to nature-minded residents after building a lodge in one of the ponds dug to collect rain water in subdivision, located near the south banks of the Grand River east of Ada.

“The Beavers Have Returned!” cried a neighborhood newsletter that celebrated the return of the furry beasts to their historic habitat.

That’s not how the beavers are being welcomed by the board of the Ada Moorings Condominium Association, which governs the ponds and grounds for 151 homes in the site condominium development.

 The busy beavers’ efforts to block an outflow drain on the pond have upset neighbors, who worry the dam will cause water levels to rise in the connected ponds and create flooding in the neighborhood.

 Chris Beckering, the association’s president, said the neighbors have had to remove the dams almost daily to assure the flow of water through the ponds to the Grand River.

 ”As an association, we are concerned about damage to our infrastructure and potentially, our homes,” Beckering said.

Visible beavers! Supportive residents! And a negative administrative response! Could there be a better combination for a beaver drama in Michigan? Maybe Martinez can help – we’ve certainly been there, eight years ago when our beavers were busily stirring up terror in a town afraid of flooding. Neighbor pitted against neighbor in the single biggest event ever to happen to Martinez. This is right out of our playbook. Just look at this deeply threatening nonresponse from Mr. Bickering;

On Tuesday, May 12, the condominium association’s board reiterated its decision to contact the state’s Department of Natural Resources about the best way to remove the beavers, their homes and their infrastructure, Beckering said.

 ”They have put us in touch with a trapper,” said Beckering, who declined to speculate on how a trapper might resolve the problem.

 ”It’s not our place to tell them,” Beckering said.

That’s right. We just contact them, retain them and pay for them. We can’t be responsible for what they decide to do. Just like people aren’t responsible when they hire a hit man. Oh wait, that’s right, courts tend to think they are.

Well I tracked down everyone I could find and sent off the information and resources about what we did in Martinez. I even sent this Michigan radio program on beavers from a few years back just in case they could listen better to one of their own. If you never heard it I think you might enjoy it.

hileplay_audioOh and it’s getting to be summer and time for more beaver horror stories, how many new outlets do you think this will be on by tomorrow? It includes a grisly photo of the dead beaver, which you will have to go look at yourself.

Woman is savaged by an angry beaver: Neighbour stabs animal to death after seeing it tearing at his friend’s leg in Russia

 A woman in Russia who had her leg ripped open by an angry beaver was saved after a neighbour came running over and stabbed it in the head.

 But she felt a terrible pain in her leg and looked down to see a large animal had bitten into her calf. Miss Eliseeva said: ‘I was in complete shock and had no idea what it was at first.

‘I thought it might have been a dog that had jumped on me. It was quite dark but it seemed to be standing on its tail as it was so tall.

‘Then it he got on all fours and charged at me again. Its teeth were in my leg and it was furiously shaking its head from side to side.

‘I was screaming like a maniac and this man suddenly appeared out of nowhere and attacked the beaver.’

The woman’s rescuer, local man Hleb Yefremov, 54, said: ‘I heard the girl scream and saw this giant hairy beast attacking her.

‘I didn’t stop to think what it was, I just pulled out my knife and plunged it into the creature’s back. It was only later I realised it was a beaver and not a dog.’

I know there are rabid beavers in the world, and that beaver teeth are sharp. But why are these ‘unprovoked’ attacks always in kit season? Doesn’t that make it seem like there might be some perceived provocation on the part of the beaver?