Archive for the ‘Beavers’ Category

Not dead enough

Posted by heidi08 On August - 30 - 2014ADD COMMENTS

Recently beaver friend RE did a public records act request for all the beaver depredation permits issued in the last 20 months. She received 254 permits which specified the authorized deaths of 954 beavers plus 131 unlimited permits. No one knows how many were actually killed, because obviously that’s not important enough to report, but that’s how many permission slips were given for their death.

A girl like me would think, that’s enough right? I mean that’s like 47 beavers a month not even counting the unlimited “all you can eat” permits. But that girl would be wrong. Because it turns out that this is only SOME of the permits that were available electronically. There were plenty that are only submitted by paper and to see those she’s just been told she needs to go in person to a dark file cabinet in Sacramento.

“There are essentially two systems, the paper system and the WIR system. Some of our staff use one, some use the other. I was under the impression that we’ve almost entirely switched to electronic, but that does not appear to be the case.”

RE will be allowed to scan or copy them if she brings her own equipment. But there’s no indication they’ll be categorized by species let alone by year. She has to prearrange the date at their convenience and I’m sure they’re hoping that she just goes away. I’m reminded of the precious opening paragraphs of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

 “But Mr Dent, the plans have been available in the local planning office for the last nine months.”

 ”Oh yes, well as soon as I heard I went straight round to see them, yesterday afternoon. You hadn’t exactly gone out of your way to call attention to them, had you? I mean, like actually telling anybody or anything.”

 ”But the plans were on display …”

 ”On display? I eventually had to go down to the cellar to find them.”

 ”That’s the display department.”

 ”With a flashlight.”

 ”Ah, well the lights had probably gone.”

 ”So had the stairs.”

 ”But look, you found the notice didn’t you?”

 ”Yes,” said Arthur, “yes I did. It was on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying ‘Beware of the Leopard’.”

 (Ahhh Douglas Adams you were so brilliant.)

I’m thinking RE will need a research assistant or two.  Cheryl says she’s interested and willing which means she can bring her iPhone and do this:

At the other end of the spectrum Brock and Kate from the Occidental Arts and Ecology Center will be giving a beaver talk next week in Santa Rosa which I encourage you to attend.

Beavers to the Rescue

Partnering with the Beaver to Restore our Watershed and Recover Salmon

Learn about beavers, a vital part of our local ecosystems with Brock Dolman and Kate Lundquist of the Occidental Arts and Ecology Center at a free lecture on Friday, September 5th at Pepperwood. The lecture begins at 7pm, preceded by an open house and light refreshments starting at 6:30pm. No advance registration is required. For directions please visit

Dolman and Lundquist will share the historical plight of this “keystone” species, which was once on the verge of extinction, as well as insights about its remarkable biology and many ecological benefits. Learn how beaver can help both urban and rural communities across California restore watersheds, recover endangered species such as salmon, and increase climate change resiliency. Dolman and Lundquist will share recent findings from their beaver research and explain how you can be a part of the Bring Back the Beaver campaign.

Hooray for Brock and Kate! And congratulations on spreading the beaver gospel in Santa Rosa! I never heard of Pepperwood before, and am very intrigued by its mission. Curious about the sentence “both urban and rural communities across California”. I wonder who they’re talking about when they say URBAN?

Well the attendees are in LUCK because when they’re super excited to hear about beavers on Friday, they can come on Saturday and see beavers in person!

12. “Worth A Dam – Beaver Safari in Martinez” 6:00PM – 7:30PM Martinez

 Visit the active beaver family in Martinez with the guides who know them best. You will almost certainly see the beavers – as well as turtles, herons and maybe an otter or two. The gentle stroll through an urban creek is ADA accessible and some of the best beaver viewing in the State. Get ready for a dam good time.

One last bit of beaver news is that I finished our grant for the “Keystone species children’s art Canvas” this week and went it off with our blessings.  I included a sheet to explain what a keystone species was and thought you’d like to see it.Keystone species

6825195-large[1]English beavers face wipe-out for the second time at the hands of humans

Wildlife ‘control’ could mean the beaver is lost from the English landscape before it gets re-established. Beaver expert Derek Gow mourns its likely passing.

 As the beaver families on the River Otter snuggle together today in their cosy nests of shredded willow they cannot conceive that they are about to participate in a remarkable historic event.

At the beginning of the 21st century, in the time if the “greenest Government ever” their removal at the hand of Defra’s trappers will ensure that they become the first ever native English mammal to have been exterminated by humans twice.

 I should have known better to be hopeful about the broadly-attended public meeting in Devon. I should have realized that the fact that DEFRA didn’t bother to be there spoke volumes. This article does an amazing job of targeting their asymmetrical illogic point by point and concludes that in this instance facts and public opinion and economics don’t matter.


Children and senior citizens, students and business men stood up at the end of the presentations to state their wish to see the beavers remain. Letters of support from farmers who could not attend were read out by councillors.

 Many people cited their appeal as a tourist attraction, others pointed out the hypocrisy of our national position whereby we lecture others on the conservation of threatened species such as tigers or elephants while making no effort to restore our own depleted wildlife. At the end of the evening a show of hands was unanimous in its support for the retention of the beavers on the River Otter.

 Defra did not attend the event. On the same day their field staff were collecting from Scotland the traps they require to remove the Devon beavers. To date despite considerable media attention, representations to senior civil servants and ministers, national petitions which have attracted over 30,000 signatures and the clear will of the local community they have made no effort to attain or consider a balanced approach on this issue.

 Did you catch that?  While the citizens of Devon were bravely assembled to talk about beaver benefits and problem-solving, bright-eyed children and craggy old farmers and gray haired dears all coming together to talk about making Devon a better place, DEFRA in their infinite badger-killing wisdom was getting ready the beaver traps. The deceptions of a certain Grinch spring to mind.

And when Cindy Loo Hoo went to bed with her cup.
He went to the chimney and stuffed the tree up.

This makes even a battle-scared rodeo clown like me feel sad and hopeless. It’s hard to believe that Devon could do everything right, the  meeting, the science, the overseeing trust, the media, the farmers, the school children, the shop owners, and it doesn’t matter at all because DEFRA will do whatever the fuck it wants to do. No matter what.

Did mention this is depressing?

Rolling with the Punches

Posted by heidi08 On August - 25 - 2014Comments Off

It was bound to happen, that awkward moment when your day job as a legal secretary for Lerner and your evening passion of playing drums in a alter-punk club collide. Surprising at first to have your boss see you hammer the snares with a stud in your nose, and then unbelievably liberating to finally have it all together in one place.

I’m very proud of this interview. I never was allowed before to talk so much about my experience on the beaver subcommittee and it was so healing to do. For me this is a vibrant red poppy growing on the dusty battlefield where much blood was spilled 7 years ago. I think it starts slow, but you have to at least listen to the John Muir part. That story relaxed me and it gets a lot better.

Episode 145: The emotional lives of advocates

You may know Dr. Heidi Perryman as the beaver believer from Martinez, California, or the defender who hosts the Worth a Dam website and podcast series. But between her evenings of working with municipalities, landowners and the general public on beaver protection, she’s a successful clinical psychologist.

 Dr. Perryman joined Defender Radio for a unique conversation on these emotions, what they mean to us and how we can manage them in our day-to-day lives as advocates.


Cheryl sent this lovely photo of our kit on vacation at Ward street.


2014 Beaver kit: Photo Cheryl Reynolds

And speaking of emotional lives, just in case you wondered, this is what resilience looks like: courtesy of Meadow Lane in Napa.


Posted by heidi08 On August - 24 - 20141 COMMENT

high tideCheryl took this video with her iPhone last night above the Ward street bridge. The kit came out of a bank hole up there and was a little too eager on his approach. Since we saw him there and his uncles there a couple days ago but by the primary on the 9th I’m assuming he’s been “staying abroad” since the last big high tide which was on the 16th.

In the mean time we know he has family to keep him company and plenty to eat so we’ll assume he’s good. If mom doesn’t come fetch him he will either walk home or take the next high tide on the 30th. Stay tuned.

Speaking of the unexpected, that was quite a ride last night. I checked in with our beaver friends in Napa, they are all OK but cleaning up what fell at the moment. Robin is so sweet she actually went down to check on the beavers!

It was frightful!!! Haven’t heard from the others yet, but I’m fine with just some minor damage (dishes).  Started feeling increasingly panicked, so grabbed a big flashlight and some loppers and headed to the dam. No sign of the beavers–probably huddled together in the lodge, poor babies!—but everything was in order. Eerie, but in order. I think some algae had moved. I do wonder what they thought.

Ahh, I’d be more worried if it happened during the day. At 3:20 am they were probably all swimming happily about and probably just noticed waves. I found these helpful observations from the Washington DC zoo when they had a big quake. On exactly this day in 2011 we learned how beavers respond to earthquakes.

D.C. Pandas Don’t Care About Earthquakes

The Zoo staff released a list of some of the animal responses as the ground started rumbling. The apes had some warning and didn’t mess around:

Beavers took to the water:

 The beavers stopped eating, stood on their hind legs and looked around, then got into the water, too. They all stayed in the water. Within an hour, some of the beavers returned to land to continue eating.

 The Heidi house rolled for a good long time, and several books were knocked off their shelves, but we’re fine. I thought it telling that wooden letters reading PEACE fell from one doorway. But as of this morning we carefully put them back.

PEACE has officially been restored.

Too many updates

Posted by heidi08 On August - 23 - 2014Comments Off

Lots of beaver news this morning, I heard from Scott Artis the designer of this website that he would be happy to do an update for us. Now he’s local again and working for Audubon Canyon and displayed for his new non profit Urban Birds Foudation at the festival.  I, for one, can’t wait until this tired old jalopy is transformed back and into a sleek cyber  Mercedes. Thanks Scott!

Congratulations to Cheryl who just found out yesterday that her lovely photo of two kits will be in the 2015 watershed calendar. It’s the loving work of artist John Finger with snippets of photos all through the dates, and useful information scattered throughout. We are especially proud because in addition to being a beautiful calendar. it hangs in every public works department and county supervisors office for the entire year and reminds them to be nice to beavers.

(And believe you me, most of them need reminding!)


Here’s the fantastic photo that will appear some month in the future. She is between computers at the moment and lacking funds so if a reader of this website just happened to get a big inheritance you might think about helping her get back to full photo capacity soon. You can even ear mark it as a donation thru Worth A Dam and get a tax deduction?

Think of the children!

Cheryl ReynoldsIMG_7316

Now many county supervisors need reminding but apparently not all. Yesterday the county supervisor/former mayor of Napa wrote me that he loved the beaver information I sent, passed it along to everyone,  and he was so excited he was asking flood control to put together a ‘beaver symposium’ next year!

Someone pinch me, I think I’m dreaming.

arch canvasI have been strangely afflicted with planning at the moment, and can’t seem to stop scheming for next year’s festival. I want to hit up the fall grant cycle for funds and was trying to think of an art project that would be educational enough to open their tightly closed purse strings. Around 4 in the morning on Friday it hit me. Our indefatigable artist FRo could paint an archway on a canvas tarp and then kids  on the day could paint in the animals with the beavers as the keystone! It teaches a complicated ecological concept, honors kids contribution, involves the community and it would be sooo cute! And then afterwards when its all dry and finished. We could use it as the backdrop in our display for years to come! FRo and I chatted about the idea yesterday, and she gave me a list of materials and how it would need to be prepared and stored.

Keystone arch here we come!


I’ve been bothering lots of people lately.  I even wrote Ian Timothy’s mom to see if I could lure her into sketching something. Remember Karen Boone was the designer behind the stunning Kentucky Derby graphic pictured below.  Can’t you just imagine the suggestion of a beaver head and beaver tail on a flag or a t-shirt? Me too. I have the dream but not the talent. So I thought maybe I’d write her.

Thinking about your beautiful Kentucky derby art, I’m wondering if you ever considered a beaver outline sketch? We would love to do a tshirt some year that was a beaver head on front and tail on back, but can only imagine the artistic wonders of a minimalist sketch outline? Maybe someday you’ll be inspired to give it a shot?

Karen Boone  wrote back this morning. “I would be happy to do that for you! Plenty of work in, but will put it on my fun to do list.”

Thank you so much Karen for putting us on the FUN list! That is really exciting and would be so full circle if it works out!

On a final note, the friend of a friend who agreed to process our depredation permit stats turns out to be the very respected statistician for Acorn, a psychometrics firm usually handling important questions like does cognitive behavior therapy reduce symptoms more quickly than Lexapro? But now, amazingly he’s committed to handling beaver data. He asked for me to include stats on population density, acreage and sq miles of water so he could run a full regression analysis. It took every waking spare moment I had this week but I finished the updated list yesterday at 3.00 pm and I’m sooooo excited. This means we can partial out effects like how much water an area has, or how densely packed the human population is,  and just zoom in on how murderous the CDFG officer was who signed the permit. Which means I can write the Chuck Bonham with our findings and specify with greater credibility the changes he needs to  make.

I can’t wait.

Baffled Beavers!

Posted by heidi08 On August - 22 - 2014Comments Off

Thomas Tamayne, Stephen Sangle, and Gary Oppenheimer (l to r) investigate the beaver pond that is flooding the wetland at West Milford’s Mary Haase-Roger Daugherty Environmental Center. The members of West Milford’s Environmental Commission plan to install a beaver-proof device to drain the wetland back to normal levels.

West Milford Environmental Commission has new weapon for beaver battle

The local Environmental Commission is employing a new weapon in its battle with the environmental boardwalk’s beavers.

Called a beaver baffle, the device being prepared for installation by the West Milford commission at the Mary Haase-Roger Daugherty Environmental Center near Maple Road School is designed to act as tap on the backside of the beaver dam. Once operational, it should lower the water level in the dammed wetland enough to make it unsuitable for beavers, forcing the current residents to relocate, and protecting the recently-renovated boardwalk from further damage, according to commission Chairman Stephen Sangle.

“It looks promising and maybe one or two more days of work should finish the project,” Sangle said Sunday.

Last weekend, commission members set the project’s groundwork by scouting the area to find a suitable place for the upstream end of a pipe that will serve as the tap. The spot has to be deep enough and large enough to contain a trapezoid-shaped cage made out of epoxy-coated mesh that will prevent beavers from clogging the pipe, Sangle said.

 Let’s hope the reporter got this wrong. They sometimes assume the point of installation is to make beavers move. Why else would anyone bother? But you and I know that if the beavers did move, the conservation commission would have wasted its time and money. The idea is that you compromise and the beavers stay and keep others from moving in and doing it all again.

I thought it was funny they described installing a beaver ‘baffle’ – and wondered if this had anything to do with the Unexpected Wildlife Refuge just 3 hrs away, also in New Jersey. Or whether they were just using the term ‘baffle’ generically, like ‘deceiver’ which they also use. The baffle isn’t often employed. But here’s an interesting project I found on beaver bafflers I think is a few years old. The video will show you how they work – or rather how they don’t work actually, because I think that tiny cage is never going to prevent beavers from feeling suction and they will quickly cover the entire thing with mud.  Just watch the video to see all about the Vermont cooperative beaver baffle project. Capture

Beaver Baffles

From Outdoor Journal Vermont PBS

When it comes to making things out of wood no animal is more persistent and more proficient than the beaver. Beaver dams provide valuable wet land habitat for several species of fish and wildlife. But these same dams can cause a lot of damage to roads and septic systems. In this segment, we look at a unique project called the “Cooperative Beaver Baffle Demonstration Project” that uses water control structures to properly manage beaver dam water levels.

Good luck with that.Oh and just in case you don’t believe beavers could mud that entire cage around the perforated pipe, here’s what one did to Mike Callahan’s single intake once.

plugged filter

6 foot filter entirely plugged with mud.Photo – Mike Callahan Beaver Solutions

A picture’s worth 1000 words

Posted by heidi08 On August - 21 - 2014Comments Off