Let’s pretend (and why not?) that you are a parent of energetic 7 year-old twins that you have to leave inside the house while you go mow the lawn. You tried to get them to come with you – talking them into raking big piles of leaves which they could leap in or pretend were monsters, but they are immersed in a mind-deadening cartoon about talking mason jars and hardly looked up when you opened the door. You are quite prepared to spend 20 minutes in the garden and come back to a chaotic pillow war where marsh mellows are used as ammunition. This isn’t your first rodeo. You know what to expect – lots of whining and name calling and ‘he started it’. But the lawn must be mowed or the neighbors will invite you for another miserable vegetarian BBQ to politely remind you, so you somberly slip out the door.
It’s a crisp fall day and the job is quickly done. Only when you come back inside, the house is immaculate. The TV is off. And the smell of waffles drifts from the kitchen where the children have a lovely brunch with unspilled juice and blueberries laid for you on the corner table. They are smiling and one of them even hugged you.
Now you know just how I felt when I read these stories.
Dear Johnnie: “I’m back, and I am hungry. As I fell each tree, the house value falls along the Oligarchy greenway west of Harvard.”
Yes, it is the beaver. How can we get rid of it? Do we take matters into our own hands (bang! bang!) or should the city fix it or the animals rights people get called in?
Anyway it looks very messy in our city to have just 2-foot-high stumps as a greenway. — Concerned
Dear Concerned: The city has a plan for beavers, and getting rid of them is not at the top of the list.
According to the city’s Standing Operating Procedure, “Longmont … maintains a wildlife management plan that strives to co-exist with urban wildlife whenever possible.”
The city’s primary concern when it comes to beavers is their ability to obstruct irrigation canals in town. When their dams threaten to lead to an overflow — which could lead to the flooding of homes — then the city will act to remove the obstruction.
The city also Longmont also has a concern for trees, as you do. According to Land Program administrator Dan Wolford, “the city, in the past has either wire wrapped or painted trees in this area to protect them from beaver, in particular those larger caliper native trees, worthy of saving.”
Removing a beaver would be a last resort, and is addressed in the SOP document.
Good lord, have I died and gone to heaven? Is this the newspaper of the angels? Where is this magical place called Longmont? Turns out its 28 miles from Sherri Tippie’s front door, so I’m guessing they have had LOTS of help getting this smart. In the meantime we should just pause and appreciate that this is the very first historic moment where I have EVER read about a city “painting trees” in response to chewing. I’m sure they mean ‘painting mixed with sand’ and I couldn’t be happier. Sherri invented that technique and was the first to publish it. Thanks Sherri!
Concerned, I’m sure you know that “bang! bang!” is not found in the city’s wildlife management plan. Even mention of “removal” comes with a reminder that “trapping and removal of an animal typically creates a ‘vacuum’ at the capture site, which in most cases is quickly filled by another animal of the same species.”
Did you just get goosebumps? I sure did. There’s more where that came from…
RMOW installs wire fences at tree bases
Score one for Whistler’s beaver population. A willow tree at Alpha Lake Park is now on its side, chewed over by one or more beavers living in the area.
The tree near the lake edge had a sign on it informing park visitors the Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) decided to let the beavers do with the tree as they see fit, as it was beyond repair. Sometime next year another tree will be planted in the area to replace the felled willow.
According to biologist Bob Brett with the Whistler Naturalists, beavers are a native species to the region. He considers them the symbol of Whistler’s valley bottom.
“I think beavers are fantastic,” said Brett after learning about the slow destruction of the lakeside willow at Alpha Lake.
A city biologist excited about beavers? Public works crews wrapping trees with wire? Hand me my smelling salts. I feel an attack of the vapors coming on! 1500 miles away from Sherri Tippie but not that far from Vancouver and our friends at Fur-bearer defenders.
The RMOW communications department also said “beaver deceivers” — defined as anything that prevents beavers from blocking culverts — were also installed in culverts at Hillcrest Drive and in Alta Vista to prevent beavers from damming the culverts.
And you thought you were thankful yesterday! Now let’s overdose on more good news from Mike Callahan about his salmon adapted flow devices in Sonomish, Washington.
Sonomish Salmon Passage Success!
I have great news! I recently returned from Snohomish County, WA and observed that our prototype Flexible Pond Levelers Fishways (now called Snohomish Pond Levelers) were successful at passing adult coho salmon upstream. I think this is very exciting!
This means that when road culverts, etc. on salmon producing streams require protection from beaver damming we can opt to utilize flow devices rather than traditional beaver trapping and dam removal. This experiment is an extremely promising beginning and great news for salmon, beavers and us all! With a single, relatively inexpensive flow device we can increase the populations of two keystone species! The implications are tremendous.
I hope to share this research at the 32nd Annual Salmonid Restoration Conference in Santa Barbara, CA in March. In the meantime please spread the word. We need to get the word out that adult salmon migration can now be facilitated rather than impeded by using flow devices.
Thanks and congratulations to my Team Snohomish partners without whom this research project would not have been possible, especially Jake Jacobson, Michael Rustay, Ben Dittbrenner, and Ted Parker. A big thank you also to the Animal Welfare Institute whose grant largely funded this research project.
Sometimes you really get the feeling that we are on a team of smart, ecologically minded beaver believers scattered across the northern hemisphere. And sometimes it even seems like we’re winning!