Archive for the ‘City Reports’ Category

Naturally Curious about Beavers

Posted by heidi08 On October - 29 - 2014ADD COMMENTS

CaptureNaturally Curious: Ecosystem Engineers

Wetlands are crucial — roughly 85 percent of all native North American wildlife relies on them — and throughout most of North America wetlands are highly correlated with beavers.

 When the beaver population plummeted due to fur trade in the 18th and 19th centuries, the number of beaver wetlands did as well. Today, beavers number around 6 million to 12 million, and the number of ponds is estimated to be between 1.5 million and 7.7 million. This had an enormous impact on the flora and fauna in and around these wetlands, changing the distribution and abundance of many plants and animals.


Naturally Curious: Ecosystem Engineers
Beavers are one, if not the only, species capable of changing the geological, chemical and biological properties of the landscape to suit their needs.

If you want to know why the state of New Hampshire is having such positive public support for beavers, it’s entirely because of articles like this. Mary Holland is a talented author and breathtaking photographer who donated generously to our silent auction in the past. She likes to write about beavers sometimes, but this is the most glowing advocacy I’ve seen from her yet. I’m hoping that we influenced her work in some small way. There is so much I want to share I can barely pick and chose. Make sure you click on her article  just so she gets credit for this remarkable work. Here’s a treasure hunt for motivation: there is one thing she got wrong. But only one. See if you can find it.


 Studies have shown that by increasing the diversity of habitats, beavers increase the number of species of herbaceous plants. By expanding wetland habitat, beavers provide an ecological opportunity for new plant species. The riparian vegetation — plants on a pond’s banks — not only increases in number of species, but the vegetation becomes denser as a result of beaver activity.


A beaver dam slows the current of a stream and increases deposition of nutrient-rich sediment and organic material in the water. This plays a key role in the development of insect life. The variety and density of species increases, providing more food for fish, birds and mammals.  Although one would think that the presence of a beaver pond might increase


 As one would expect, there is a shift in fish species, just as there is in insect species, as the rapidly flow ing stream is converted to the stillness and increased warmth of a pond. Studies have shown that fish species richness increases with the size of a pond, but even very small beaver ponds can have higher than expected richness compared to ponds of a similar size not impounded by beaver dams.

 Contrary to popular belief, beaver ponds have been shown to have a beneficial effect on trout and salmon populations. Loss of beaver ponds has been correlated with a significant reduction in salmon production. Beaver dams are typically not barriers to fish — they find ways of passing through them, except when stream levels are very low.

Amphibians and Reptiles

dt.common.streams.StreamServer.cls Beaver ponds create an ideal habitat for amphibians. Reptiles also fare well in beaver ponds, especially older beaver ponds. There is greater species diversity of snakes and turtles in older ponds than younger ones, but even younger beaver ponds usually have more species than undammed streams.


 A wide variety and number of mammals uses the lush vegetation around beaver ponds as food and cover. An increased production of woody plants (vigorous shoot growth at beaver-cut stumps) and aquatic vegetation attracts browsing moose and deer. Water-loving muskrats, otters, raccoons and mink frequent beaver ponds for food and shelter.


dt.common.streams.StreamServer.cls1 The creation of an aquatic habitat necessarily will attract different species of birds than a forest habitat. Significantly more bird species have been found at active beaver ponds than abandoned beaver ponds and control sites with no history of beaver occupation. Waterfowl use beaver ponds for nesting and rearing young, and as stopover sites during migration.

Mary’s Closing argument:

Humans may disagree about the advantages and disadvantages of having beavers as neighbors, but there is no disputing the fact that beavers play an important role in preserving biological diversity.

And THAT’s what the New York Times SHOULD have said. (By the way I just heard that the NYT beaver article is tracking as the 6th most emailed!)

Thank you so much Mary for singing beaver praises with such passion and timbre! We are grateful for your eloquence, talent and veracity. I’m sorry the grey lady pushed your work out of the spotlight for a whole day, but I am so thrilled to promote your work now!

And if you need a little more illustration to the argument that beavers create habitat, here’s some recent footage from Rusty Cohn in Napa showing an unexpected visitor to the beaver dam. He wondered, fox or coyote? So I sent it to the expert. This morning Camila wrote back: COYOTE!

We have been so inspired by his work we tried our own trail cam last night for the first time, but all we got was the “Lesser-spotted-Moses” hard at working cleaning up a tree so the city wouldn’t be annoyed at the beavers. Recognize this species?

Turkey before Halloween?

Posted by heidi08 On October - 25 - 20142 COMMENTS


Beaver comeback continues in Windsor-Essex on Turkey Creek

Nearly a century after they all but disappeared, beavers continue to make a comeback in Windsor-Essex County.  The latest sighting has come in LaSalle, along Turkey Creek.

 Ron Harway found the beaver in his backyard.

 Earlier this year, Harway noticed the bark from a tree 60 centimetres in diameter in his backyard had been torn off. Now, wood chips lie in a pile on the ground.

Let me say, if that picture is your beaver, he’s a teeny tiny insect of a beaver. CaptureLooking at the later photo of the chewed tree I’d say it looks more like  porcupine chewing or muskrat, just not much damage to show for all that gnawing. I suppose if it is a tiny kit who has no idea what he’s doing that means someone killed his parents and he’s an orphan, that’s IF its a beaver I mean. Which I doubt. Anyway Ron needn’t worry. he has a smart Turkey biologists nearby who know all about them.

 Biologist Dan Lebedyk with the Essex Region Conservation Authority says more beavers may not be a good thing in Essex County.

 Fifty years ago, the region had some of the lowest amount of tree cover in Southern Ontario. It’s been a long, slow recovery.

 ”So our resources are getting better but it’s not good to have an animal like this because we don’t have the actual resources to sustain a [beaver] population yet,” he said. Beavers can cut down up to 200 trees per year.

 Lebedyk is also concerned about the local watershed.”Because all of our water courses are basically drainage systems for our agricultural industry, we don’t want to see dams created on our water courses. it would create flooding and damage property,” he said.

I feel fairly certain Dan might get a letter from me. And in the meantime you should really amuse yourself by watching some footage of beavers that Napa has been smart enough to welcome. How wonderful to have good friends in Beaver places! The first is from Robin Ellison and shows a young beaver chewing on the branches of a willow tree they brought down the night before.

The second is from Rusty Cohn who has been experimenting with a trail camera to catch work at night. Notice the two beavers on the right and a muskrat or mink at the left hand corner of the screen swimming by at the end.

Three scoops of stupid

Posted by heidi08 On October - 22 - 20143 COMMENTS

Every now and then we pass through a news cycle that is so full of beaver benefits and so absent of stupidity I begin to feel like we’ve finally turned an important corner – that all across the country people are understanding more about the good beavers do and why they should solve problems without trapping.

Then there’s a day like today when I remember that people from one side of this country to the other (and everywhere in between) are still deeply committed to their stupidity about beavers. And it shows zero sign of evaporating.

We can start with the tail bounty they’re increasing in Winnebago County in Iowa. From now on, every person who brings in a cut tail will get 50.00$ instead of 25.00. Don’t worry, they have to prove it was from that county. I don’t know how. Maybe the beavers in Iowa have license plates?

Dorchester Struggles With Beaver Troubles

Then we can march 1000 miles across the state to Salem, Maryland where they’re tossing around ecological phrases to justify killing beavers by aiming the USDA at them. These are my favorite quotes.

“They’re damaging the ecological forests, as well as the timber value, because no one is going to be able to go in there and harvest that timber now,” said Libby Nagel of Salem.

“It’s killing the trees and the branches that absorb the nutrients. It’s killing a lot of habitat, mainly causing flooding in fields,” said Eberspacher.

Ecological forests? Absorbing nutrients? Did someone drop out of college after ecology 101?  We should all be reminded of Alexander Pope’s Essay on criticism.

“A little learning is a dangerous thing.
Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian Spring;
There shallow draughts intoxicate the brain,
and drinking largely sobers us again.”

Apparently someone stopped reading before they sobered up.

Capture1Click on the photo if you want to see the newscast. The only good news from Dorchester is that when I first saw the story last night they were running it with my very favorite  KIT PHOTO by CHERYL!  I summoned all my doctoral indignation and wrote the station manager that if they were going to rifle through our website and STEAL anything they wanted they might at least have read the information while they were there.

This morning it’s magically swapped for an NPS photo. I thought it might be, so I took this screen shot last night.

changedAnd just when you thought the world couldn’t be any more ridiculous about beavers, there’s this.

Ravens, beaver cause power outages in Willow

According to MEA spokeswoman Julie Estey, the main outage — first reported on the MEA Facebook page just after 11 a.m. — cut power to roughly 3,700 customers. Estey estimates the second incident temporarily left fewer than a dozen people in the dark.

 “It was actually caused by two ravens,” Estey said. “They were actually in a substation, and they took out one of the breakers.”

 The Douglas substation where the breaker was located covers much of Willow all the way north to Talkeetna. Estey says the outage was first detected at 10:56 a.m., with power restored by 12:18 p.m.

 A second, smaller outage reported between 9 a.m. and 10 a.m. affected fewer than a dozen people on Willow Fishhook Road. While crews were quickly able to repair the line, the area was within the substation’s coverage area — which meant customers there lost power twice.

 “A beaver cut down a tree and it actually fell onto the line,” Estey said. “So they got their power restored, and then they got hit by the ravens.


Time Travel and Beavers

Posted by heidi08 On October - 20 - 2014Comments Off

Believe it or not, this program aired this very Saturday on the Children’s BBC program “Wild”. It was obviously filmed before DEFRA had made up its mind to ruin everything so there is no mention of beavers being illegally released or carrying parasites. It’s just an irresistible story of beaver adventure. I’m guessing someone at the BBC got a memo Monday morning and scrubbed it because if you search for the program online you get this.

CaptureFortunately for us, stalwart beaver protector Peter Smith had already uploaded it to Youtube and we get to watch it first hand. I think I have a crush on host Naomi Wilkinson, because her enthusiasm for beavers is entirely infectious. Meanwhile pay attention to the language. This is alarmingly accurate for beaver-TV! If I were you I’d watch it today because tomorrow British government television might  come lumbering along and swallow the youtube version next.

Wasn’t that amazing? The other amazing thing that came across my desk this weekend (besides a memory card problem, did you know your computer can actually send telegraphic messages and beep to tell you why it broken? Me neither!) was the Moorhen Marsh Study done in 1998 on the beavers at Mt. View Sanitation. For years we’ve been running into the odd person at displays who has mentioned that they were on the volunteer beaver study group between the Lindsay Museum and Mt. View Sanitation. I was fascinated by this and stunned that no information or observations about this study existed or ever found its way to our beaver sub-committee. That is until Kelly Davidson was cleaning out her desk and sent us this.

CaptureThere’s a description of their methods and the some 15 volunteers who participated, as well as an excellent species list of 26  in all. It doesn’t say much that is startling about beavers and sadly there are no photos attached, but it did have a description of the behaviors they observed, all but one of which we see in Alhambra Creek. See if you can spot they outlier?

Beavers were observed swimming, chewing, diving, eating reeds, laying on their backs to eat, carrying stick or weeds in their mouth, patrolling or circling the ponds, shaking their heads, wiggling their ears, rubbing their faces with their paws and splashing.

Those beavers built a full lodge in the marsh and two kits were observed at the site. What I love best is thinking that one of those kits was probably one of our original parents. Bear with me here, but those beavers didn’t live in the bank and none of our 22 beavers have ever built a lodge but our original mom. In fact she built two in the span of three years and no one has done it since she died. This would make her 12 when she died, which is a nice life span for a wild beaver. So I’m going to assume it was mom that grew up in Moorhen Marsh. I’m reading this report as if I were looking at her baby pictures, which is a lot of fun. I will upload it to the website or you can read it here yourself.


Carbon Dating Beavers in Northumberland

Posted by heidi08 On October - 19 - 2014Comments Off

There is a passage in  J.B. Mackinnon’s “The Once and Future World” that I often remember. It’s the part about 17th century conviction that no species could be made extinct by the work of man because the number of species on earth was the prerogative of God alone. He wouldn’t allow it to happen and he was in charge. The part that impressed me most was the speed at which public opinion seamlessly transitioned from “It could never happen that human harvesting of any God’s work could make it extinct” to the defensive self-justification of “We don’t think that species ever existed here anyway,”

I swear, that’s what he wrote, and I was stunned and read it over and over. Even now it pops into my mind when I think about Beavers in California or Panthers in Florida or Climate Change.  Even during the recent bruhaha in England you read comments blithely insisting that beaver weren’t native and didn’t belong in the River Otter anyway.

Well the good guys just got some ammunition.

Northumberland beaver discovery sheds light on the missing link in river management


Beavers were living on the Tyne catchment 400 years later than had been previously believed, a new discovery has revealed.

A piece of birch wood which had been gnawed by a beaver was found sticking out of the eroding bankside of the Scaup burn at Kielder Forest in Northumberland.

Now the wood has been radiocarbon dated, showing that it was chewed in the 14th Century.

Experts say this is conclusive evidence of the presence of beavers in the upper Tyne catchment in the 14th Century and is the most recent radiocarbon date for the animals in Britain.

The previous most recent radiocarbon fix for beavers was on bones at Glastonbury, which dated from between 800AD and 1000.

I had to look at a map to remind myself that Northumberland is way at the tippy-tippy top of England, almost in Scotland. Which means this is good news for everyone in the United Kingdom from our friends in Cornwall to our friends on the river Tay. I love that this chew was found on a scouting trip and whisked away for carbon testing.

(And lets be completely honest here, I like to imagine that the idea of carbon testing this wood had something to do with the carbon testing Chuck James presented on at the State of the Beaver Conference in Oregon, and that we published two years ago.)

He believes it adds support to calls for beavers, which create wetland habitats for other wildlife, to be reintroduced in the future.

“They are eco-engineers, who would add interest to our wildlife and could be an economic benefit in terms of tourism,” says Angus.

 The later presence of beavers in Northumberland supports the idea of reintroduction, he believes.

“It would benefit the environment and help in issues like flood protection. Beavers are the missing link in river management.

Well said sir! I’m going to guess that Mr. Kielder is a friend of our friend Paul Ramsey the beaver believer whose clever wife was the keynote speaker at the State of the Beaver Conference – or at least that if they aren’t friends already, they will be soon.

Beavers change things. It’s what they do.

Bad News, Good News, Beaver News

Posted by heidi08 On October - 16 - 2014Comments Off

Cochrane’s beaver management has its challenges

The Town of Cochrane is asking Cochranites who peruse the pathways to be mindful of signage indicating beaver management (trapping) in areas throughout the Ranche Site and Glenbow this fall season.

See? I told you the phrase “beaver management” is a euphemism for murder. Like “Ethnic Cleansing”,  “the Jewish Problem”, or “Manifest Destiny.”

According to Gerry Murphy, parks manager for the town, when town staff observes beaver damming occurring, they reach out to town-contracted Eagle Creek Wildlife Control; the town has managed beavers within the town for many years.

 Eagle Creek sends out licensed trappers to identify areas to set live and lethal traps and the town assists with signage.

“When the beavers are trapped, they come out and remove them,” said Murphy, adding that people should avoid going near the traps and keep dogs leashed in areas where signage indicates beaver trapping is ongoing.

Ron Hanson started Eagle Creek some 20 years ago, followed by 30 years of service as a Fish and Wildlife officer.

He is no stranger to beavers, also known as ‘the largest North American rodent’, and the extensive damage they can cause — including damming culverts, softening road beds and railroad tracks and removing trees.

Hanson said his trappers set both live and lethal traps but that beavers are managed through euthanization — which he said is the most humane form of management.

“From a moral standpoint, moving (relocating) beavers at this time of the year is just not an option,” he said, explaining that the beaver population is at an all-time high.

If there’s one thing I value, it’s the moral teachings of a trapper and ex-game warden.

Never mind that Cochrane is about three hours away from Dr. Glynnis Hood who is the premiere beaver researcher  in the entire world. Never mind that her students are doing beaver management in Alberta and you could be next if you weren’t so beaver-dam stubborn. Never mind that if you kept these beavers in your creeks using mitigation you’d never have to hire Ron again to solve this problem, because they’d be using their own territorial behaviors to keep others away. And you’d have more fish and wildlife (oh, and water) in your town.

Honestly, sometimes all I can think of is Gollum, writhing with pain at the elven ropes crying “It hurts us! [the beaver stupidity], it hurts us,’ hissed Gollum. `It freezes, it bites!”

“In my opinion, the town parks department has done a spectacular job of beaver management in the Town of Cochrane over the past 20 or more years,” said Guy Woods, director of Bow Valley Habitat Development.

 Hanson said they use the beaver carcasses to supply bear bait for local Fish and Wildlife officers.

facepalmThen there’s this today from Belllefontaine, Ohio. You just know this ended well.


Bellefontaine Police Officer Glenn Newland uses a snare to trap a beaver this morning in the parking lot of Fontaine Plaza shopping center, as Logan County Dog Warden Benji Avila waits with a trap and Police Sgt. Allen Shields holds another snare. The beaver had taken up residence around the shopping carts outside the Big Lots store,1760 S. Main St. The officers believed the beaver may have come from a pond behind the nearby Lowe’s Home Improvement Warehouse where they intended to set the animal free. (EXAMINER PHOTO | REUBEN MEES)


The saving grace good news is that I got a surprise present from Fur-bearer Defenders Radio yesterday I just had to share. It’s part of the most recent episode with very famous psychologist and eminently published author Marc Berkoff (who writes about animal feelings and feelings for animals in Psychology Today among other places). The interview starts by proclaiming the successful launch of their podcast. The very cool part is that I had sent Dr. Berkoff my own modest interview a while back and he had politely responded that he was interested in listening but never had time to do it. (Poor Heidi. Not even a beaver bridesmaid!) I knew it would be relevant but even I can’t chase a man more thank twice, so I had given up making my debut as a beaver-saving psychologist.

But now Fur-bearer Defenders is doing it for me right in Marc’s episode!

three second1

You know you want to click on this…

Oh and he’s donating a copy of his new book “Rewilding our Hearts” for the silent auction.

Beavers Far and Wee

Posted by heidi08 On October - 14 - 2014Comments Off

Beaver fence aims to stop pathway flooding in Fish Creek

A beaver appears to be missing a paw from a trapping mishap in Fish Creek Provincial Park. (Ingham Nature Photography )

A beaver appears to be missing a paw from a trapping mishap in Fish Creek Provincial Park. (Ingham Nature Photography )

Calgary officials are trying out a new way to manage beavers that are causing problems in Fish Creek Provincial Park.

The rodents keep packing mud and logs against a culvert in a city-owned storm pond. If left, the dam would cause the pond to overflow and flood a popular pathway.

In the spring, the city’s water services department is going to install something called an exclusion fence — a trapezoid shaped fence made of wire that prevents the beavers from plugging the culvert.

The city used to deal with situations like this by trapping and killing the beavers, but it reviewed that policy after an incident in July. A beaver got caught in a trap, but didn’t die and was spotted struggling to free itself.

Fish Creek Park Beavers

The area in Fish Creek Provincial Park where city officials tried to trap and kill the beaver over concerns it would flood a bike path. (Carla Beynon/CBC)

Upset animal lovers launched a petition to stop trapping in the city. That prompted the review, which revealed that debris got caught in the trap, causing it to malfunction. Since then, the city has been working with the Association for the Protection of Fur-Bearing Animals to come up with non-lethal alternatives.

“We want to go a different route so we don’t actually have to kill beavers,” said water services spokesman Randy Girling. “We don’t want to be known as killers or anything like that. We want to do the best we can for the wildlife in our parks.”

Hurray for Adrien and Fur-Bearer Defenders! They managed to convince the good folk of FCPP that it was better to try something new than claw their way out of any more bad press and public wrath. Adrien says it was hard, hard work. Like pushing a grand piano through a transom. But they persevered and were granted permission to install a beaver deceiver  now. Gosh, I’m so old I can remember when Adrien installed his first leveler!

Sniff, they grow up so fast.

Speaking of the long arm of beaver defenders, I got an invitation this morning to present at the San Pedro Valley Park in Pacifica on beavers. A month after I’ll be talking in Auburn. That’s 133 miles apart for beaver defense. 1670 if you count Utah and Oregon. And Cheryl just visited Big Break in Brentwood where she snapped these videos of our work at the visitors venter!

Pretty cool to be long-range beaver preachers!