Archive for the ‘City Reports’ Category

Time Travel and Beavers

Posted by heidi08 On October - 20 - 2014ADD COMMENTS

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.

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Carbon Dating Beavers in Northumberland

Posted by heidi08 On October - 19 - 2014ADD COMMENTS

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

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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.

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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)

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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!

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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!

The Trail from Utah to Martinez

Posted by heidi08 On October - 13 - 2014Comments Off

Hot of the presses I just got word from Mary Obrien that the BRAT (Beaver Restoration Assessment Tool) has just been completed for the entire state of Utah. The complete report and maps are here and I will put a permanent link on the margin alongside the last amazing thing Utah did for beavers, (and the one before that). Here’s a little excerpt  from the executive summary.

This report presents the development and application of the Beaver Restoration Assessment Tool (BRAT), a decision support and planning tool for beaver management, to analyze all perennial rivers and streams in Utah. The backbone to BRAT is a capacity model developed to assess the upper limits of riverscapes to support beaver dam – building activities. Both existing and historic capacity were estimated with readily available spatial datasets to evaluate five key lines of evidence: 1) a  perennial water source, 2) availability of dam building materials, 3) ability to build a dam at baseflow, 4) likelihood of dams to withstand a typical flood , and 5) likelihood that stream gradient would limit or completely eliminate dam building by beaver. Fuzzy inference systems were used to combine these lines of evidence while accounting for uncertainty.

CaptureWith this announcement came a note from Mary that two stalwart Utah beaver champions are coming out to San Rafael for the annual Bioneers conference this month. They are going to a soils workshop and would like to meet Worth A Dam and the beavers if at all possible. For the past 5 years they’ve been hard at work letting beavers turn the tiny incised trickle on their land into this beauty. Their beavers have survived  the last 5 years on mostly cattails because there are no trees to speak of!

Yet.

 

 

P1090548And speaking of beavers eating cattails, here’s a video Rusty sent this morning of  a Napa beaver doing just that. The green water is pond weed/algae and don’t worry, I just read this morning that  cattails are VERY nutritious.

In the Shadow of greatness, there oft Stupid lies

Posted by heidi08 On September - 24 - 2014Comments Off

I’m still scratching my head about this article on Port Orchard in Kitsap county. The area actually borders Kings and Snohomish counties which boast the most enduring record of progressive beaver management in the world. They are literally in throwing distance of better solutions everydirection they face. I recognize the reporters name because I’ve written about her glowing intelligent reporting on beavers before. And now this.

Persistent beavers frustrate county workers

PORT ORCHARD — It’s one dam problem that keeps coming back.

 Kitsap County crews have been battling beavers for more than a month below the Long Lake Bridge near Port Orchard.

 The persistent beavers keep rebuilding a dam, which the county removed last week for the third time since Aug. 8, according to Tony Carroll, with the county roads division.

 Beavers can cause roads to flood, endangering drivers.

Trapping and removing the animals has been the county’s answer, until its certified, locally contracted trapper was hired by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, leaving the county without a trapper.

 Now, the county is asking the department to help handle the beavers with a $15,000 contract through the end of the year.

So the previous county trapper loved his work so much that he got hired by USDA and now they are subcontracting the work out with a 15,000 a year contract. Hey, I bet you didn’t know that the old name for Kitsap county used to be SLAUGHTER county. Coincidence?

 Typically, the county has about two or three beaver incidents a year when it can trap and remove beavers, according to Andrew Nelson, Kitsap County public works director.

So 5000 dollars a family? That’s your budget? Maybe I’m in the wrong line of work. I couldn’t believe the article didn’t at least mention flow devices, and then I got to this.

Beaver deceivers, specialized fencing to deter beavers and allow fish to migrate, have been placed in some areas to prevent the animals from building dams.

The county and Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe teamed up in 2010 to place a beaver deceiver by a culvert along 288th Street in North Kitsap.

 While the fencing is a deterrent, it’s not guaranteed to keep out beavers.

“Believe it or not, they still manage to build inside that culvert,” Carroll said.

Of course they do, those scheming beavers. with their cunning ways and wire-clippers. It couldn’t be that you put them in WRONG or anything, could it? You know, far be it from me be like the loyal republican who says, “Conservatism never fails, it can only BE failed” – but in this case the  tools are automatically suspect. I want to see that beaver deceiver that failed. And Beaver Deceivers helping fish migration? I blame Mike Callahan for that. I knew his specially adapted flow devices would give people the wrong idea. And here’s proof.

For the record, they’re helping fish maneuver the flow device, not the dam.

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On that note, we will say goodbye to the “you’ve got to be kidding me” in Kitsap story, and talked about our favorite topic. Citizens protecting beavers. This time in Milford, MA.

Breach of Milford beaver dam upsets some residents

MILFORD – A few residents joined environmental activist Suzanne Fournier Monday night as she continued to criticize town officials for breaching the dam at Heron Pond.

 Fournier, who wrote in a letter to the editor of The Cabinet last week that removing part of the dam will harm many animal species, told selectmen someone should have consulted the town Conservation Commission and teachers at the nearby Heron Pond elementary school before the work was done.

 “Many teachers are very upset about the loss of this beautiful pond,” she said, and the reasons given for the breach “are not credible.”

 There were complaints about turtles and frogs and a ruined Great Blue Heron Rookery. The Conservation Commission who gave the orders has little to say for itself, but gosh, they’re thinking about using a flow device next time.

Selectmen did not respond to the comments, but Fred Elkind, the town’s environmental programs coordinator, said last week that no real harm was done to the dam or the pond by the breaching, which was done in August.

 The Conservation Commission is looking into the possibility of installing a pipe and fence system, he said, that could help control beaver activity, as Fournier has suggested.

 Now you’re thinking about following her advice? Now that you’ve tried every conceivable way to ruin things on your own? I think your body is laboring under a misnomer.

You should be called the “Destruction Commission”.

And Suzanne, Worth A Dam is VERY proud of you and your neighbors. Your next step is to get the kids in those classrooms and bring them on a fieldtrip to the ruined dam. It’s a science project on habitat and ecosystems. Have them all draw something that was harmed by the damaged wetlands. You know, the frogs and the fish and the blue herons.  Invite the art teacher to cut them out and put them on a mural. And oh, call the media and invite them to photograph kids at the ruined dam.

That flow device will start looking better and better to those commissioners. I guarantee it.

 Final Mural

Beaver Cousins near and far

Posted by heidi08 On September - 23 - 2014Comments Off

These were among the dead trees that had to be removed from Tulocay Creek because a beaver dam downstream created a pond in the channel. The trees were standing in three feet of water which was likely the cause of their death.

Soscol Avenue’s beaver colony creates flood control issues

Protectors of a small colony of beavers on Tulocay Creek near Soscol Avenue became alarmed recently when flood control workers began cutting down dead trees in the middle of the beaver pond.

Ron Swim said he grew concerned when he saw trees being felled near the largest beaver mound, located adjacent to Hawthorne Suites. “I would like to see the wild beaver left alone to do what wild beavers do. They create ponds that will bring fish and ducks,” he said.

Until recently, Swim said he’d lived in Napa for 57 years and never seen a beaver. “It’s a nice addition to the community,” he said.

 Rick Thomasser is the watershed and flood control operations manager with the Napa County Flood Control and Water Conservation District. It’s his job to keep creeks clear of possible flood hazards.

 “The beaver habitat is great, but one of the downsides is they fell trees” for dam building, Thomasser said. This, in turn, causes a water back-up, which can drown tree roots and result in the death of the tree, he said.

 That’s exactly what happened near the beaver dam just east of Soscol Avenue. Thomasser said the flood district had been monitoring a number of trees that had been engulfed by the new ponds.

 A dead tree in the middle of a stream becomes a hazard and can collect debris. “We try to keep the center of the stream open to flows,” he said.

Proudly lowering the level of discourse, reporter Jennifer Huffman took the a phone call from concerned beaver friend Ron Swim who was worried Flood Control was chopping down the beavers’ trees and transformed it into a Beavers-are-Problematic article. She called Rusty several times for quotes and he mentioned keystone species, wildlife photographers, beavers saving water, etc. She was really only interested in the dog fight. Napa has been SO good about beavers up until now. I think she is hoping if she shakes the ants in the jar enough they’ll start fighting and make an exciting news story like we had in Martinez.

Rusty Cohn checks in on the animals five to six times a week. He hopes that as few trees as possible are removed near the beaver lodges.

 “I think flood control is doing their best to take care of the beavers,” while at the same time preventing flooding, he said. “I don’t think what they’ve done so far is causing too much grief for the beavers,” he said.

 “It’s a balancing act,” having beavers in an urban area, said Cohn.

Rusty is such an excellent beaver defender. I think he’s in that stage now where he can still recognize how bizarre it is to care about something this new this much, but is fascinated where the trail will lead. Obviously he’s reading everything he can get his hands on  about the topic. And he’s struggling to alienate no one while he steadily builds education and support. I sometimes fondly remember those days. I actually remember standing at the Escobar bridge to film the beavers in the beginning, which is where I always used to watch them. I never went any farther or down to the primary, maybe because I could sense it would push me farther into the story. I filmed from there and it seemed like the distance down to the dam was this magical, inviting  OTHER place. The beavers story, not mine.
Here’s a time capsule from those days, May 6, 2007. There is even a mislabeled nutria for you to spot. Ahh memories!

I have long since crossed the rubicon into the new world and there’s no going back for me. Maybe Rusty is tempted to go back while he still can? (We hope not!)

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In the other direction, the South bay is equally interested in beavers. Here’s a video that Steve Holmes of friends of los Gatos Creeks, (A truly heroic creek-watch group that does unbelievable cleanups with massive public support) just sent.

One comment: Those beavers probably weren’t building a ‘leaf nest’. It’s probably a scent mound to mark their silicon valley territory. Other than that I’m always happy to see beavers making a splash! Thanks Steve!

One final update of some not-so-local beavers. On Sunday we had another visitor from the Blue Heron Nature Preserve in Atlanta, Georgia. This time the president, Kevin McCauley, who cycled from Bart to my house where he met Cheryl and I, had some lemonade and friendly  developer-taming conversation and then went down to the creek where he was delighted to see three beavers courtesy of Martinez.

I’m thinking the beaver festival in Georgia can’t be far away.