Archive for the ‘Beavers’ Category

Of course it’s a beaver! Why do you ask?

Posted by heidi08 On September - 22 - 2014ADD COMMENTS

Beaver footprints found along Allegheny River bank, not gator

What has big hind feet and leaves a trail into the river that can be mistaken for an alligator slide?

A beaver.

That’s the consensus among wildlife experts and trappers about tracks found on Thursday on the Allegheny River bank in Cheswick.

He said he wouldn’t expect an alligator to leave a “trough” 3 to 4 inches deep like Gerhard described.

To leave a track that big the alligator would have to be very large, which means it likely would have been raised then released as an adult because a juvenile wouldn’t survive our winters.

The other telltale sign is that a close-up photograph that Gerhard took of one of the tracks shows three toes and a rear foot pad.

It more closely resembles a beaver track, rather than that of an alligator, which has more toes.

Why wouldn’t there be an alligator in Cheswick Pennsylvania? Never mind that it snows two feet every year and alligators are cold blooded. The witness is sure of it! Better ask a trapper for advice. Whatever it is, we’re sure that it’s icky. So killing it is our only possible recourse.

Was it a soldier beaver? (PA will never live that down. I think that was one of my top five favorite posts of all times.)

Mean while in the Duck Creek subdivision in Chicago they’ve had 6 inches of rain in two days, and homes are flooding. (Homes built illegally in a flood plain mind you, but never mind that.) They’re sure the flooding is caused by – what else? A beaver.

 Beaver dam removed, but flood issues remain for Duck Creek homes

PORTAGE TOWNSHIP — The township trustee says Porter County officials told him they’ve removed a beaver dam that caused severe flooding recently in the Duck Creek subdivision, but residents have more questions and a regional water expert said other measures could be taken to reduce flooding problems.

Trustee Brendan Clancy said county officials told him that beavers built a dam near a standpipe in one of the nearby ponds, which worsened flooding of the subdivision’s streets and some homes about four weeks ago, when the area was hit with 6 inches of rain over two days.

6 inches of rain in two days? Good thing Global warming is a myth. I guess hundreds of thousands showed up for the myth march yesterday. On a related note, I have something VERY interesting to share about climate change and the Public Trust, but I’ll wait until tomorrow. In the meantime, here’s a great BBC radio program on reWilding that aired yesterday and was put up by Peter Smith of the Wildwood Trust. Enjoy!

Beaver Resilience

Posted by heidi08 On September - 21 - 2014ADD COMMENTS

Dry Guadlupe River: Roger Castillo

So this is what most of the Guadelupe River looks like this summer. Too bad for the remaining fish and definitely too bad for the thirsty wildlife. You’ll remember there were three beavers on the creek in 2013, and they made an historic splash. One was seen with a packing strip trapped around her waist and she was rescued so it could be removed and released to the exact same spot.

Not surprisingly, those beavers never showed their faces again. Although sometimes they still see sign of them.


Beaver chewed tree on the Guadelupe River: Steve Holmes

On Friday I got several very distressed emails from the friends of Los Gatos Creeks that they had discovered a beaver in great despair, living under a pipe in the dry river. They were ready to call in rescue to get him out. And what did I think? Later emails said he was ‘living in a pile of his own feces’ and was obviously sick. I was able to piece together that he was living under a culvert with a tiny leak and trying to use that water. And Greg Kerekes of urban wildlife took this photo.

Beavers using culvert in drought

Beaver in the Guadelupe: Greg Kerekes

This photo made me happier than any I’ve seen recently. Look at what that resilient beaver decided to do with the tiny drip! Waste not: want not. He has made a dam to keep the water inside the pipe since it won’t soak up the water, and if he needs water to drink or eliminate, there it is. In a few weeks it will be deep enough to hide him from unfriendly eyes. Remember that beavers are herbivores so even if he was in a puddle of his own ‘sawdust’ it wouldn’t be cause for alarm. But when I talked more to Roger Castillo about what he saw I realized the ‘filth’ he had seen the beaver sitting on was a scent mound that he was making to mark his ‘home sweet home’. Even though this looks alarming to us, he’s fiercely proud of his ingenuity and doesn’t want to share!

He’s sleeping to the right beside his accomplishment, in a little bed of reeds during the day. CaptureHis hidden stash of water means coyotes or bobcats are unlikely to come and get a drink, and he seems ready for the long haul. Who knows? Maybe he’ll even get company? A beaver pioneer in the dry Guadelupe river. How different would California look during a drought if we had millions more like him?

stickerYou’ll remember that beavers were one of the first species back after Mt. St. Helen’s errupted. And were among the first to reclaim the land in Chernobyl after the nuclear reactor disaster. Here’s Leonard Houston’s opening remarks from the 2013 State of the beaver conference.

“Within this strangely pastoral setting the animals go about their business, sometimes finding uses for what we’ve left behind. The wolves rise up on their hind legs to peer through the windows of houses, looking for routes to the rooftops, which they use as observation posts for hunting. Eagles build nests in fire towers. Deer, elk, bison and wild horses flourish in abandoned farm fields.

 As to the beavers, they have shown an amazing resiliency to some of the worlds most cataclysmic events, in large surpassing sciences understanding of what we call sustainable habitat. Beavers, forced out decades ago when the landscape was engineered for collective agriculture, have already undone much of man’s work converting polluted swamps to free flowing rivers and restoring one of central Europe’s great marshlands.”

So I wouldn’t worry about that little pioneer beaver. He’s doing just what he’s supposed to – what we all should, really.  How careful would we all be of water if we didn’t think any more was coming? I mean out of the sky, out of the tap, out of the bottle – ever. Wouldn’t we all build little dams around every drop to eek it along?


Last night we saw some very lucky beavers expanding their territory to Ward Street. I thought you’d like this footage of dad and the new kit.

Friday Funnies

Posted by heidi08 On September - 19 - 2014ADD COMMENTS

CaptureThis is one of those ‘come to Tennessee for our great fishing and have the vacation of your life” websites. I just happened upon it when I saw this photo with this very surprising caption.

While using a trolling motor to venture up Manskers Creek close to the dam, I saw two muskrats swimming underwater chasing fish. Later, when leaving the creek, there was one on the bank eating a fish.

Ahh, Vernon, you seem like a nice guy. But there are three little problems with your finely curated caption.

1) That’s not a muskrat
2) That’s not a fish and
3) He’s not eating it.

That’s a little beaver sitting on his tail to groom. I’ll grant you, you aren’t the first one to think beaver tails are a little scaly. (The Bishop of Quebec in the 17th century actually classified them as fish so good Catholics could eat beaver during lent.)

Beaver_fish_tailSo you’re in good company.

One more funny from Lory and the times last week and a kit photo to start the weekend right. Our Scottish beaver friends are disappointed but 85% voter turnout is nothing to sneeze at, and I know you’ll get there one day.

cedar salad

Kit at ward street Kit at Ward Street: Photo Cheryl Reynolds



10 things you might not know about beavers

Posted by heidi08 On September - 16 - 2014Comments Off

Touring for Beavers:September 2014

Posted by heidi08 On September - 14 - 20142 COMMENTS

Sulpher Creek is a secret jewel hidden away in the crowded residential hills of Hayward. It’s entered by a curling driveway between homes that wraps into a loop around a thickly concreted creek arched by a myriad of trees. A narrow bridge crosses the creek to take you to what could be another world, the animal hospital on the right, and the classroom at the left. In between are a cluster of animal pens where unreleasable wildlife are held in airy comfort. We saw foxes, hawks and a screech owl. The class room looks like every classroom you’ve ever seen, with carpet squares on the floor where the little ones sit for learning time, and bigger chairs with adjustable tables in the room after that.

The entire facility has the feel of a delightful ranger station – the old pre-Reagan ranger stations from your childhood where there was always SOMETHING wonderful going on. This makes sense because the land and buildings are owned by the parks department. We were met by the coordinator Sylvia Franke and set up in the well appointed little room.

It was a small group by beaver standards, but very wildlife-savvy and eager to learn more. I felt perfectly at home as I talked about beaver benefits to the appreciative crowd who knew some of the story from the news. I had met Joellen, a docent, years ago at the beaver dam and she had been instrumental in getting us invited. She was there yesterday and kindly said that she still reads the website every day, so if you’re reading this, THANKS!

Now we’re off to the wine-country to talk beavers at Cornerstone. Stop by and say HI!


The unfinished thought

Posted by heidi08 On September - 13 - 2014Comments Off

A beaver lodge sits next to the partially drained pond, water from which was used to control dust from construction of a golf course near the Trinity River Audubon Center.

Editorial: Drained Trinity pond drains confidence

The work recently went off the rails when contractors began draining an environmentally sensitive pond in an effort to control dust elsewhere.

 This pond is a gem of the forest, where threatened wood storks like to fish. The contractors hired by City Hall siphoned it like a swimming pool. A witness, Ben Sandifer, said he saw fish huddled in the mud and remaining water with their backs exposed.

 Assistant City Manager Jill Jordan wrote that, while officials agreed to let contractors use water from the pond, they “never realized the contractor would be so insensitive as to attempt to drain an entire pond.

Right, because  contractors are usually such sensitive souls. I know mine went through a whole box of kleenex watching nature programs when our shower was installed. This is what you did to the Audubon center?  This is bad even by Texas standards.

The good news is that folks are mighty upset about it, so there’s a good chance something might change for next time. Too bad for the beavers and the wood storks though. I guess someone else will have to deliver all those babies to dallas?

(Have you ever seen a wood stork? They are deeply striking birds with featherless black heads and great long beaks. Here’s a photo I took in the everglades. You can bet something enjoyed an all-you-can-eat sushi buffet with all those huddled victimized fish – and we know it wasn’t the beavers!)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANow, is it me or has the Huffington Post finally maxed out on beaver innuendo?

HPNobody likes a stinky beaver.

 Just ask the people of Cumming, Georgia, who had to endure the filthy stench of rotting beaver carcasses, after one resident allegedly left them in a parking lot.

Police are fingering Chad Artimovich, 43, as the lead suspect in the case. Artimovich was arrested Aug. 23 after customers of a TitleMax complained about decomposing beaver carcasses in the parking lot, WSB-TV reported last week. Responding officers found several large bags full of maggots, fluid and rotting beaver, which gave off an “atrocious” smell, they said.

Get it? “Stinky beaver”, police are “Fingering” the suspect. Isn’t that hilarious?I mean if you’re a 12 year old boy?

Less funny is the tail bounty offered in Georgia that leads  to someone knocking off a few beaver, snipping free their reward hastily in the parking lot, and hurrying off to collect their 13$ a tail.

No word on when the Huffington Post will be reporting on that.

Oh, and speaking of wasted publications and and incomplete thoughts, how about Nina Keenam columnist for the Andulusia Star News in Alaska whose burning curiosity drove her to exhaustively research beavers – during which effort she determined they were BUSY.

Beavers worthy of ‘busy’ slogan

What animal do some people consider the “outstanding engineer of the wild” and the mammal next to man that alters the environment most to suit its needs? If you answered “a beaver,” you were right.

When I covered meetings of the Covington County Commission for The Andalusia Star-News, one of the commissioners often related stories about beavers in constant battle with his road crew. He said beaver dams caused flooding along county roads and bridges. As fast as crews destroyed a beaver dam, the beavers reconstructed it the same night.

 Beavers are definitely clever and persistent. I learned that beavers cut down trees, gnaw off the limbs, cut the main trunk into the right size, and dig canals so it can float to the dam site. Then it plasters the logs together with mud.

 I would say that the expression “Busy as a beaver” rings true.

I can just imagine those late nights of study, drinking iced coffee and charcoal biscuits next to a pile of ruffled volumes that lead you to this stunning conclusion. No wonder you didn’t have  time to talk about how important they are to salmon, or wildlife, or rivers. Your considerable research skills were already consumed by the jaw-dropping discovery that beavers are “busy”.


Seeing is Believing

Posted by heidi08 On September - 12 - 2014Comments Off


The Chesapeake Bay is an estuary lying inland from the Atlantic Ocean surrounded by the states of Maryland and Virginia, the largest such body in the US. And look who’s on the back cover of their newsletter? Thanks Malcolm Kenton for sending it our way!CaptureSure there is nothing about beavers actually IN the newsletter, or partnering with beavers for restoration to repair damaged streams,and that neat tanbark sure looks like the home of a kit in captivity, but heck, it’s a start, maybe the beginning of one of those conversations that keep you up well into the night. There was a nice story from them on living with beaver last year when they noticed they’re population was going up.

Fortunately, there is an easy way to solve the conflicts without killing beavers, Griffin said. The answer is: beaver deceivers. These are cage-like devices that prevent the animals from blocking the stormwater pipes. The Humane Society has been meeting with state and local governments across the region to convince them to use this and similar technology – including underwater pipes – as affordable and non-lethal ways to foil beaver dams, Griffin said.

“A study we did showed that, over time, it is far more cost beneficial to install and maintain these devices than to kill beavers and then constantly go and clean out culverts over and over again,” said Griffin.

 One of the governments the Humane Society helped to convince to use the devices is Rockville, Maryland, which is planning to install a beaver deceiver in a stormwater pond behind Richard Montgomery High School, according to Heather Gewandter, stormwater manager for Rockville. There, a family of beavers gnawed down several trees, and built a dam and a lodge in a roughly 100-foot-wide urban stormwater control pond behind the school’s bike paths and trash cans. The dam is blocking the pond’s stormwater drainage outflow, threatening an adjacent road with flooding when it rains, and reducing the effectiveness of the whole runoff pollution control system, Gewandter said.

 ”We’ve noticed a real increase in the beaver population in the recent past,” she said. “But we have a live and let live policy for all wildlife – and so that includes deer, coyotes, and beavers. So we want to do everything in our power to co-exist with the beaver. We also do want to honor our obligations, when it comes to water quality. So we are really hopeful that these beaver deceivers will work.”

 The city is also wrapping the trunks of young trees in several parks with short bamboo curtains, to prevent the beavers from cutting them down. Trees, after all, are important not only for scenery and shade in the parks – but also to cool and filter streams.

No word in the article about how beavers are helping the streams you’re trying to save, and filtering the water you’re working to clean, but hey, I’m thrilled you’re using flow devices and wrapping trees. I’m sure you’ll catch on to the restoration story eventually.

On a lighter note Bobby posted this footage of a kit tailslap on the river Tay in Scotland and I had to share. Look at his muscles tense and twitch while he’s obviously gearing up for this heroic feat.

Much more talented than our kit, who wasn’t much younger. Not only does fail to get the required SMACK sound, he uses so much effort that he almost does a back flip in the water!

‘A’ for effort, though. That’s what I call enthusiasm.

Speaking of great effort, here’s a photo just sent from Rusty in Napa  at the beaver pond he’s watching up there. This green heron got lucky, and probably will again soon. I think he’s enjoying a bullfrog tadpole, which means there are more where this came from. If he waits a while he can get some with feet!

green heron catch

Green Heron Catch: Rusty Cohn