Because the beaver isn't just an animal; it's an ecosystem!

The Martinez Beavers

Category: Beavers

The captured charming beaver strikes again. This time on Inside Edition.

Unusual Pet Named ‘Justin Beaver’ Makes Dams Out of Household Items

This adorable pet beaver makes dams out of household items! The 7-month-old rescue animal was orphaned as a baby. Justin Beaver is often caught gathering cuddly toys and everyday objects to build his creations. But he won’t be inside for long. The hope is to raise enough money to build him his own outdoor enclosure with a pond.

Hey, you know what would be neat? If everyone stopped MAKING orphan beavers all the time by killing off their parents.



We are in a golden bubble where so many good things are happening for beavers I’m not really sure where to start again. The wonderful teacher from yesterday friended me on facebook and has been saying that her children want to go on a fieldtrip to the threatened dam in Richmond. The story of Port Moody deciding to co-exist with beavers was everywhere yesterday including the CBC! And the cutest baby beaver in the entire world made the today show.

Is that enough to start?

B.C. city to create new beaver management plan after baby beaver drowns during relocation

The City of Port Moody is creating a beaver management plan after a baby beaver died during a relocation operation in December, leaving residents “heartstricken.”

The kit and its family had been living in a storm drain pipe near Pigeon Creek since the fall. City officials said their dam was beginning to block the culvert, so the animals needed to be moved to avoid flooding.

Two adult beavers and one of their offspring were successfully taken out of the pipe in December, but the second kit drowned after workers set a trap.

Please note the photo. The CBC has considerable photo archives at its disposal and can pick any beaver photo it likes. When the story is a negative one saying beavers cause flooding or ruin crops you would NEVER see a photo like this. It would be chewed tree or an adult eating on the bank. Something that looks like a problem.

This photo looks like a parent.

After public outcry, Coun. Meghan Lahti asked city staff to create a plan that recognizes beavers as part of the community and recommends that beaver colonies should remain undisturbed whenever possible. City staff are now preparing an official plan to present for council’s approval. 

Hurray for Port Moody and the beaver management plan! Hurray for any news stories that see a beaver family as parents instead of problems! What a wonderful note to end the week of wonderful news!

If there is one thing I regret about our beavers, it’s that we were never able to use all that public response to get a promise to secure their safety, or to coexist with future beavers. The council just NEVER was willing to say a decision had been reached to keep them safe. Ever. Ever. Ever.

But they were safe anyway,  So I guess we didn’t do too bad.

Meet Justin Beaver, a rescued orphan who’s eager to build dams out of toys

JB, as he’s known, was orphaned last summer when he was about 8 weeks old. Now he lives with wildlife rehabilitator Brigette Brouillard, the 45-year-old founder and director of Second Chances Wildlife Center in Mt. Washington, Kentucky.

JB was orphaned so young that he doesn’t really know how to be a beaver. So he can’t be released into the wild. Instead, he’s licensed by the federal government as an “educational animal.” That means he’ll stay permanently with Brouillard, and go with her to places like schools and libraries to help teach people about wildlife..

Ahhh good ole’ Kentucky. They keep obligingly making SO MANY ORPHANS that there must be a heckuva lot of educational animals with flat tails. (And plenty of other kinds of tails too,)  Well, these photos are really cute so we’re just going to agree that he’s the luckiest beaver in the ENTIRE state and leave it at that.

Now stop being sorry for him and go watch him try to build a dam with pillows, dammit.


Did you watch? You’re crazy if you don’t watch. That little beaver lost his family and his freedom so saying AWWWWWWWWWWWWWW is the least we can do!

Final wonder is that Amelia finished designing our Bay Nature Ad for the festival. She’s so awesome. Isn’t it lovely?

Any reader of this website knows the magic of a beaver pond, and what it’s like to sit or stand in its shadows just watching the teaming life at its borders as heron, fish, frogs, muskrats, waterfowl and otter enjoy the bounty it offers. It’s delights are freely offered and free to enjoy, from sea to shining sea. Here are three recent news stories of folks who enjoy beaver ponds in other states.

We can start in Alaska with our old friend Mary Willson who braves the cold to visit a pond in the snow.

Winter trailside observations

Mid-December, Eaglecrest. Lovely soft snow covered the ground, so animal-tracking was really good. Shrews had been very busy, running over the snow from one bush to another. Lots of other mammals had been active, too: deer, weasel, hare, porcupine, red squirrel, and mouse. Sadly, we found no ptarmigan tracks at all.

• Mid-December, Dredge Lakes area. After a deep freeze, a warm spell had melted ice cover and opened up some of the ponds, and beavers had become active. There were new cuttings in the woods, new twigs in the winter caches, and some of the perpetrators were repairing their dams. The Beaver Patrol was called out of its own winter torpor to make notches in a few dams, lowering water levels in certain ponds so that nearby trails were dry , permitting passage of any late-spawning coho and allowing juvenile salmon to move up and down stream if they chose to do so.

I guess retired ecology professors of any age still don snowshoes and wander around beaver pond? Thanks Mary for the crisp magical description! But beaver ponds aren’t just an Alaskan treasure. They are also enjoyed 4000 miles away in upstate Grafton.

Grafton’s well-visited, and quieter, points of interest

At first glance, Grafton doesn’t seem different from most rural towns. You could drive through on Route 2 without giving it much thought. I have been to the Dyken Pond Environmental Education Center, owned by Rensselaer County and featuring 6 miles of trails through beech-maple forests and spruce-fir swamps, by beaver ponds and vernal pools. It’s worth a visit, but be prepared to navigate to 2 miles of rutted dirt road to get there.

 Grafton is a place for people who love nature. There is often not much else to do in Grafton.Maybe not. But the world need places where there is not much to do.


Imagine how dramatic it would be to tour the entire country by JUST hopping from one beaver pond to the next! That would be a wonderful way to see the wild places that no tax dollars support. How about a visit to the Grace Estate on Long Island, where the beaver pond is still a destination even after the animals themselves are long gone?

Revisiting The Scoy Pond Beaver Site

During last week’s thaw, before the ground and pond ice melted significantly, I revisited the pond in the Grace Estate Preserve where a beaver had resided over the three years from 2006 to 2009. But sometime in 2009 someone with a lot of time and energy on their hands, and a problem with beavers, dismantled the lodge’s roof and caused the beaver to flee the area. I was curious to see what remained a decade after its construction activities: a lodge, dam, and two narrow channels excavated through a shallow shrub swamp from the pond’s edge to the lodge’s two underwater entrances.

Remnants of the dam are still visible, and it seems to be maintaining the pond at a level noticeably higher than its pre-beaver level, but not at the level that I recorded in 2006: approximately one to two feet higher than today. The narrow dam at the pond’s ditched outlet is easily overlooked, at first glance resembling a jumbled brush pile. Closer inspection reveals a significant mass of bottom sediment—mud and peat—buttressing the upstream side of the wooden lattice.

Perhaps something that the nearby river otters could refurbish as a den to have their young. I was wrong. The only clear indications of where the lodge once stood were the two channels that the beaver had excavated. Everything else had been recycled back into the peaty soil. But there was another interesting aspect to the beaver’s choice of location for the lodge that I had not noted in 2008: two groundwater seeps nearby that had enough relatively warm groundwater flow to remain ice-free during the cold snap.

Beavers draw attention even in their absence it seems. We shouldn’t be surprised, because we still meet folks coming to see the the site of our old beaver dams and asking about their story. I guess archeologists visit the sites of early man thousands of years later. Why shouldn’t there be teams of beaver archeologists? Come to think of it, where do I sign up?



Maybe it’s just me. But if I lived in a very low-lying area that required extensive levees to even make living there even possible, and I had to make the levees out of soil because it was what I had the most of, I sure would cover that earth wall with fencing or rip-rap or something that burrowing animals couldn’t dig through. At least below the water line where I couldn’t see it. An ounce of prevention, you know, is worth a pound of cure. Or any amount of GPS.

Doesn’t that seem relatively straight forward?

Study of behaviour muskrats, coypus and beavers kicks off

In a new study just launched by a number of Dutch district water boards and knowledge institutions, a team of scientists including statistical ecologist Emiel van Loon of the UvA Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics will be researching the behaviour of muskrats, coypus and beavers. The two-year project is titled ‘Dyke Diggers in Focus’.

standing of beavers’ behavioural patterns and territorial use, meanwhile, would make it easier to detect beaver damage and perhaps even ‘steer’ them away from burrowing in dykes.

To gain a clearer picture of these ‘dyke diggers’, the research will use transmitters equipped with GPS location and activity sensors. The project’s strength lies in pairing of science with practical techniques, with a hands-

Digging in banksides and dykes by muskrats, coypus and increasingly also beavers is causing significant safety risks, economic damage and structural maintenance expenditures in the Netherlands, where flood control is a constant concern. While capturing muskrats and coypus remains as important as ever, better insight into these rodents’ habits may enable faster and more targeted detection and ultimately allow a reduction in not only the number traps that are deployed, but also unintended by-catch and the needless killing of animals. Improved underon component for students, too. Use of this new technology will enable district water boards to answer the pressing question of how to prevent waterside damage through practical insight into the behaviours and territorial use of muskrats, coypus and beavers in the Netherlands. In future, the new technology will also be available to track and study other animals.

Emiel van Loon has been engaged to advise on the design of the experimental transmission component and will focus on questions such as how many animals should be tagged with trackers and where they should be captured. Additionally, Van Loon will be responsible for interpreting the tracking data and creating and validating the movement models to for example predict the use of space for the whole animal populations.

Nothing gives the whiff of modern science that air of prestige like saying it has GPS tracking. Science nerds just go crazy for that, (it’s like labeling anything retail with the words “bluetooth enabled”). People will be more likely to buy it whether it’s useful or not. Far be it from me to make fun of the vividly named Dr. Van Loon or question usefulness of putting a chip inside beaver heads to “STEER THEM AWAY” from burrowing into a wall, but tell me this. If they don’t burrow into your dykes, where are these creatures going to sleep instead?

Maybe creating a floating safe zones that would appeal to these animals would be more useful than this GPS thing? You know, some where to hole up and escape too or for a family to raise its young. Oh and use a couple of those graduate students to find out why no one can tell these species apart will you? Just sayin’.

Left: (Nutria) Castor Impostor ——- Right: Beaver (Castor Canadensis!)

I just got word from Carol Evans of a wonderful presentation she will be doing with rancher Jon Greggs to talk about their awesome work with restoring sage lands with beaver January 30th, 2018. The conference is mostly about ranching, but their part will be in the morning starting at nine. I have such respect for this work. Carol goes right into the lion’s den to deliver her message. You can sign up here.

This is an FYI as some of you have expressed an interest in hearing about the material Jon Griggs and I will be sharing at the National Society for Range Management meeting in Sparks, NV.  I’ll be talking a lot about the effects of managed grazing and beaver colonization on valley re-hydration in the Susie and Maggie Basins.  Jon will also be sharing his perspectives on all of this.  

Restoring and Managing the “Emerald Islands” of the Sagebrush Sea: New Science, Sticks and Stones, and the Eager Beaver


Well, even though Wisconsin eliminated ALL air quality regulations Friday, there are things to enjoy about the return of beaver in the state. Starting with this article.

Something to chew on: Beavers regain toehold as popularity of the Milwaukee River grows

The American beaver is discovering that the lower Milwaukee River is once again becoming desirable real estate.

There are increasing signs of the beaver’s presence: Gnawed trees for miles up and down the shoreline; a ramshackle dam that sticks out of the ice in Lincoln Park; and the most tale-tell sign of all — a beaver lodge near W. Hampton Ave.

The inroads by the largest rodent in North America have been unmistakable, says Cheryl Nenn of Milwaukee Riverkeeper, who has worked for the advocacy organization for 15 years.

“They’re definitely becoming more prevalent,” Nenn said.

Beavers were a fixture in the lower Milwaukee in presettlement times. They are still common in the far upper reaches. But they are making a return to the river on the city’s east side.

“The corridor has become a better place,” Nenn said. “There is improving tree diversity — that’s important — and the water is improving. It’s all of those factors.”


Isn’t that a wonderful temporary house they built Chip? So smart. I’m glad Milwaukee is being visited by more beavers. and that there are  new cleaner rivers for them to inhabit. They can help maintain those streams, you know. If folks stop being so trap-happy and let them do their job.

A nice look at the job they can do comes from this month’s permaculture magazine, which is available online now. You will recognize some of the names in it and I dare say ALL of the photos. (Because apparently everyone wants to borrow from us). The article starts with a short piece I wrote with Mike Callahan years ago, and then goes into a nicely detailed description of flow devices, beaver management, and why beavers matter. When author Timothy Sexauer contacted us in the summer, Cheryl agreed that this was exactly the kind of article where her photos belonged.

Go read the whole thing, it’s worth your time.

Beavers: The Ecological Restoration Agents

For many millions of years, in what we now call the Applegate watershed of southern Oregon, beaver have been the senior landscape engineers. At least 12,000 years ago, humans arrived and established permanent culture alongside the beaver. In the language of the Takelma, the Applegate is called “sbink,” meaning Beaver Place.

By the time the Takelma were violently displaced by the gold rush settlers, fur trappers had already nearly exterminated the beaver. As a result, rivers and creeks flowed faster and wetlands had become meadows, drastically changing the landscape and ecosystems.

That’s a pretty nice way to start an article.  It goes on to talk about how when the beaver population recovered they found that the land had been settled, culverted and  laid with concrete. Conflict often arise. But there are MANY ways to solve them. The author talks about working with Jakob Shockley to keep a basement from flooding. And the story ends by thanking Mike Callahan for his work and celebrating the launch of the Beaver Institute.

Jakob Shockey says the key is mitigating human-beaver conflicts so we can retain beaver where they choose to reside. When they are secure in their chosen spot they will naturally disperse their children further up tributaries where we most need to restore water retention. It is up to us to educate ourselves and others about the many benefits of beaver to the land and, importantly, the ways that we can non-lethally deal with these conflicts.

It is an honor to announce that Mike Callahan recently launched The Beaver InstituteTM as a means to catalyze public awareness at a continent-wide scale. The Institute’s mission is “to be a catalyst for advancing beaver management by providing technical and financial assistance to public and private landowners experiencing beaver conflicts, supporting scientific research, training mitigation professionals, and increasing public appreciation of the beaver’s critical role in creating wetland ecosystems.” The vision is to have “all beaver-human conflicts resolved in a science-based manner to maximize the many benefits that beavers contribute to the environment.”