Archive for the ‘City Reports’ Category

The Drama in Devon

Posted by heidi08 On January - 27 - 2015ADD COMMENTS

The news from Devon is getting more and more interesting, and what once looked like a quick DEFRA victory, is turning into a marathon battle over public interest. I’m just excited its still being discussed.

Beaver debate needs to focus on the long term

For creatures no one ever sees or hears, they are creating a clamorous stampede. The fact that there are beavers on River Otter is in no doubt – you can see evidence of their engineering works in several areas – but it is the human debate which is mounting over their future that is beginning to echo so loudly down this peaceful Devon valley.

Should the wild beavers in the area be allowed to remain for a test period of five years, or should they be rounded up and carted off to some wildlife park? That is the question which Natural England and DEFRA will be deciding on next week and, as the clock ticks towards beaver heaven or hell, so the increasing voices of opinion can be heard resounding across the media and the internet.

Ahh the citizens of Devon made such a clamor! I remember those days in Martinez. And hopefully our noisy dilemma made some observable difference to what is happening. Certainly it showed that public opinion can push the debate. When the people lead the leaders will follow. But not right away. First they have to exhaust all the possible options for refuting/marginalizing/ignoring them.

We saw that in Martinez too.

The UK’s leading beaver expert, Devon-based Derek Gow, told the WMN that the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Elizabeth Truss, had directed Natural England to made a decision on the “basis of science and evidence alone”.

 “If they do so on this basis then the mists of myth and misunderstanding which have swirled around this issue for so long will simply vanish leaving only one clear answer,” said Mr Gow. “Although their decision may seem insignificant involving, as it does a tiny, very fragile, population of beavers, it is in reality momentous.

 “It will give us the opportunity to set an example of tangible tolerance we have never attempted before, by re-establishing in its rightful environment this creature we once slaughtered recklessly.”

 Mr Gow said he had “no doubt” that beavers could exist in British landscapes but only if their presence was “competently handled”.

 “Beavers can be trying. Their engineering abilities can conflict with our interests but the truth is that they create environments which abound in wildlife, retain water, prevent flooding and assist in the restoration of cleaner river systems.

Derek has been a beacon of beaver strength in the area since before this began. We have followed his advocacy for beaver benefits for years now, and I’ve very excited he’s presenting on the matter at the State of the Beaver Conference next month.  Since I’ll have a front row seat for that particular discussion, you will too.

 4:15 pm −5:00 pm Return of the Beaver to Britain

Derek Gow, Consultancy Ltd. Devon, Britain

The article ends with an emphasis on needing to have tools for ‘management’ of beaver presence in England. Of course management is a euphemism for ‘lethal trapping’.

Dr. Bridgewater went on: “What we should be focussing on – where the debate is – is that 20 or 30 years down the line their numbers may well have expanded. They will move up the catchment, and between catchments. Everyone needs to be aware that is the case. It is not a car-crash – you can manage them, there are good management techniques – but it is a matter of everyone knowing what they are getting into.

 “If I have a concern it is about communication – people might think having the beavers is fantastic and support it – but they might not necessarily support the management.

 Very ominous Dr. Bridgewater. And kind of silly. Do you honestly think that a country that tolerates the regular culling the most beloved animal in the entire United Kingdom isn’t going to be ready to take out a few lumpy beavers? How much work does the advance team really need to do on the issue?

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Beaver treats

Posted by heidi08 On January - 24 - 2015Comments Off

 Beaver making an Arizona comeback

54c0017bc831e.image

A beaver lodge built into the bank of the San Pedro River indicates the presence of the aquatic rodents, which were reintroduced to the river in 1999. About 50 beavers inhabit the San Pedro National Conservation Area.

“A hundred-and-fifty years ago, it was called the Beaver River because there were so many beavers,” said Dutch Nagle, former president of the Friends of the San Pedro River, an organization that promotes the conservation of the river.

Thanks to reintroduction efforts by the Bureau of Land Management beginning in 1999, an estimated 50 beavers now roam the waters of the San Pedro. The beavers have built dozens of dams that slow the river’s flow and create ponds. Along with raising the water table near the river, the slack water provides increased habitat for a variety of plant and animal species.

 One of the species that prospers from the beavers’ tireless dam-building is the lowland leopard frog. “Historically, I’m sure there was a very close relationship between beavers and leopard frogs,” said Mike Sredl, who leads the ranid frog projects for the Arizona Game and Fish Department.

Along with environmental factors such as tree density and the availability of food, beaver behavior can have a significant impact on the number of birds along a river.

“The beaver contribute most in defining how many birds are in an environment, and the reason for that is they change the environment,” said Van Riper, who is the co-author of a study that examines the effects the reintroduced beavers have had on various bird species.

Great work from our beaver friends on the San Pedro! It is lovely to read about the difference beaver can make – especially in arid land. Of course the article takes time to whine a bit about how there are also more bullfrogs and non-natives but I don’t think anyone really takes that seriously anymore. I know I don’t. It’s like saying we shouldn’t repair our roads because it makes it easier for thieves to get away from the police.

The thing we want matters infinitely more than the thing we don’t.

In case, you, like me, are dying to look at Van Riper’s bird study, the whole thing is available here. It’s a very interesting read, but I think overly cautious about the benefits of beavers. For example, they note they “can’t conclude whether” the increase in biodiversity near beaver activity represents beaver effects, or just beaver CHOOSING richer habitat to settle in.

(Sheesh. Because you know how those lazy opportunistic beavers are -  always picking the nicest neighborhoods to move in. Grr.) The report generously concludes that at least beavers did not appear to make anything worse.

Beaver reintroduction did not appear to have detrimental effects on any species of conservation concern and, in fact there was evidence that a breeding bird community is more abundant and more diverse where beavers were present.

Mighty white of you, I’m sure.

_______________________________________

Now for an unmitigated treat, check your insulin levels first, because this is too sweet to be believed. The kit is at Point Defiance Zoo in Tacoma WA and her grape-testing made TIME this morning. Her name is Hazel.

Still, if you think its cute when beavers in zoos eat grapes, you should see what it looks like when wild beavers eat strawberries.

Yearling eating Strawberries - Photo Cheryl Reynolds

Yearling eating Strawberries – Photo Cheryl Reynolds

Beaver dreams come true.

Posted by heidi08 On January - 14 - 2015Comments Off

Beaver battle: ‘We’re trying to work with nature’

A young family has moved into the Fraser Heights area of North Surrey and has been causing problems for the city parks department. And according to Carrie Baron, environmental planner for the City of Surrey, the new tenants have been causing headaches at city hall by jamming a nearby creek with sticks and causing it to flood surrounding fields.

 ”We’re well aware of the beavers at Fraser Glen,” said Baron. “We are planning to put in a new outlet control structure that the beavers are unable to block.”

 Since the city has a no-kill policy when it comes to beavers, Baron said the idea is to build a structure that the beavers are unable to block, allowing the creek to run freely, while at the same time providing a safe habitat for the beavers to live in.

 City parks workers have also been installing wire fencing on tree trunks around the pond to protect them, as many have been chewed down.

 Although relocation of the beavers is an option, Baron said, new beavers would only move in, causing the same issues again.

I had a dream like this once, but it never came true. Have I suddenly died and gone to heaven? Are there really such cities as this in the world? Do employes from public works really wrap trees with wire? Surrey British Columbia is right across the water from Vancouver, so I think we owe Fur-bearer Defenders a heap of gratitude for educating Fraser Heights.

Thank you! And Ms. Carrie Baron, environmental planner extraordinaire! Let’s hope there are lots more like you at home.

There’s more good news to put on your calendars. Michael Runtz is a photographer, educator, and beaver lover from way back. I first connected with him through Donna Debreuil of the Ottawa-Carlton Wildlife center. His brilliant photographs are in the beaver documentary on PBS. I knew he was hard at work on his book about his decade+ beaver observations, but it’s FINALLY going to be released February 1. His interview with Michael Howie for Fur Bearer Defenders Radio airs monday. This is an excerpt from Michael’s review.

About dam time: new book showcases the remarkable world of beavers

 Michael Runtz Dam BuildersA perfect mixture of science, poetic anecdotes and gorgeous photos makes up the foundations of Michael Runtz’s Dam Builders: The Natural History of Beavers and Their Ponds (Fitzhenry & Whiteside, February 2015).

Runtz, a renowned naturalist and photographer, and an instructor at Ottawa University, has taken all that is incredible about beavers – from their long evolutionary history, to their social structure, to their aquatic engineering skills – and compiled it in his new book.

 It is the combination of these three passions of Runtz that make this book such an essential part of any animal, nature, history or photography lover’s collection.

Preorder the book for your very own here. And listen to the interview on Fur Bearer’s Radio Episode 212 available Monday January 19th, here. I’m sure we’re in for a dam good time!

Capture

CLICK TO LISTEN

Even Steven with Beaver Stories

Posted by heidi08 On January - 12 - 2015Comments Off

Two steps forward, two steps back. I don’t think we’re moving at all. But I guess good news takes a ton more work to get published, so it matters more. We should be content to see the positive paired with a couple stinkers. Especially in January. Let’s be good stoics and save the good news for last. Before the sugar we need two spoonfuls of bitter beaver ignorance from Massachusetts.

City gets approval to trap beavers causing flooding in South Lowell

LOWELL — A bucktoothed menace reared its furry head in South Lowell last spring, turning Charles Tamulonis’ backyard into a mosquito-infested swamp.

“There’s always this thing about ‘save the beavers,’” Tamulonis said. “But it’s the greatest nuisance in the world depending on where you live.”

 Soon after the dam appeared, he began writing to every city official he could think of. For almost a month, nothing happened,

 But eventually he spoke with Ralph Snow, commissioner of the Department of Public Works, and the city embarked on the arduous task of securing the proper permitting to breach a dam and trap the beavers — not to mention actually taking on the dam itself.

 It took more than five months for the city to secure the proper approval. During that time, a trapper caught 12 beavers behind Tamulonis’ property, some of the weighing more than 50 pounds.

 You asked public works last? I would have asked them first. They are notorious for hating beavers! Lessons learned I guess. So you killed a dozen beavers. 2 parents, 5 yearlings and 5 kits. Now the water won’t drip into your basement any more. Never mind that Mike Callahan of Beaver Solutions is 100 miles away, and could have fixed this problem for the long term. Never mind that he just emailed that he gave a TALK last year to the Lowell Conservation Commission. You wanted those 12 beavers dead, and now they are.

Je Suis Castor?

(Mike just added that 12 beavers would be HIGHLY unusual for an urban setting. 5-6 is more common.  Sometimes trappers lie to inflate their fees. Which is pretty comforting, but I still need to post this:)

On to the next lie:

 Towns to discuss mosquito control budget

 The Central Massachusetts Mosquito Control Project also runs a program to breach beaver dams, which cause rivers and streams to become stagnant and attract mosquitoes.

 “Those impede water flow,” said Oram.

 The $2 million budget, which is a 2.1 percent increase over the $1.9 million fiscal 2015 budget, includes a $20,000 increase for pesticides, garden tools and supplies, $10,000 more for spraying equipment upgrades and $70,000 more in salary increases.

 Obviously they need more money. It’s hard work thinking up lies that good! And all those mosquitoes won’t kill themselves! I suppose if Northboro is good for the money they should ask for the moon and see what happens. It’s not like anyone will point out that if more fish and invertebrates are found in beaver ponds, they’ll be lots more trying to eat that larvae. Why worry your pretty head about details like that?

Bring us some good news. I’ve had my fill of liars and murderers this morning. Okay, how about this from New Hampshire?

Beavers help environment, but conflicts with humans can arise

Moose and deer, wood frogs and salamanders, mergansers and great blue herons, otters and weasels – all thrive in the habitats created by beavers.

“I think of them as great little wildlife managers,” said Dave Anderson, a naturalist and director of education at the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests.

Beaver is a “keystone species,” Anderson said. “If we were to eliminate their activity, we’d lose wetlands that are critical habitats.”

 Anderson, who also co-writes the “Forest Journal” column in the New Hampshire Sunday News, said killing all the animals in an area isn’t a long-term solution to beaver problems.

 ”You can’t trap them out of existence,” he said. “If you make a gap and the habitat’s suitable, there will be (other) beavers moving in.”

How much do you love Dave right now? Hurray for beaver wisdom in New Hamshire! Dave is also a forest columnist for the New Hamshire journal, so he has a great platform to preach the beaver gospel. But he needs to be a little less passive with his solutions for land-owners I think:

 As long as a well or septic system isn’t threatened, homeowners can just wait out the beavers, Tate said. Once they exhaust the available food supply, they’ll move somewhere else, and new ones won’t move in for another seven years or so.

 Well, I think I will write Dave about fast-acting solutions that will let land owners cooperate with beavers. In the meantime thank you SO MUCH for your great promotional efforts! I think this is probably the VERY BEST article we have had on beavers from the state.

Let’s conclude with some very cheerful beaver reporting from Kent England. I can’t embed the video but if you click on the photo it will take you to where you can watch three minutes of the delightful story unfolding Enjoy!

Capture

 Beaver Colony Flourishes in Kent

“We’ve never seen anything like this”

Posted by heidi08 On January - 9 - 2015Comments Off

Apparently this was such an unexpected calamity in Woodinville that there are no fewer than 20 articles on the subject this morning. Traffic stopped because of an actual beaver blocking an actual culvert! That never (always) happens! I suppose this beaver built his dam far inside the culvert, where it was harder to remove. (Pretty smart actually. More privacy AND protection). Valiant Washington Transportation Crews worked all day using grappling hooks and security lines. Reporters stood by faithfully reporting on their every progress. “He’s inside the pipe. We have first contact”.

Honesstly, you would think they were free climbing El Capitan’s Dawn Wall.

At least its not as bad as Hamilton, Ontario where, out of the blue,  unexpected beavers are suddenly taking established trees for no reason at all!

MAHONEY: A trail of beaver dam-age

The beaver finds many trees at hand. Along the Waterfront Trail, for instance.  So now we have a problem; not so horribly divisive as, say, the one-way/two-way street debate over which Hamilton families have torn themselves asunder, but it’s a puzzler. We’re losing arbour by the harbour-ful.

 ”He’s incredible,” says John Smith, half admiringly, half resentfully, pointing out a bare patch in the beautiful screen of trees between trail path and water.

 ”Look at the gap he’s cleared away.”

 I count 12 stumps in a four-metre stretch, but everywhere along the trail one finds ample evidence of the beaver’s xylophagic efficiency (sit back down; it means “wood-eating”).

Beavers chewing trees in winter?  Say it isn’t so! I mean you cover the beaver beat for a few years, and you think you’ve hardened to the horror of it all. You think nothing can penetrate that thick skin you’ve developed after all the damage and brutalization. But then something like this happens and just throws everything into chaos.

First the culvert, and now this!

There must be some way to solve this problem. Some clue to a solution. But where? The article kindly mentions that walkers like the beavers so killing them isn’t an option. But what else can they do? If there was only some indication of a solution that they could go on, just some hint  or shred of evidence of what might possibly work,

Too bad the article was only published with this ole’ photo.

 BUSY BEAVERS John Rennison,The Hamilton Spectator John Smith marvels at the work of our national emblem, the beaver. But as an avid user of our water front trail, he's noticed a drastic decrease in the tree population along the shore and islands of the trail because of beaver damage.

Rally and Defend

Posted by heidi08 On January - 4 - 2015Comments Off

 ”Race against time” to raise £20,000 needed to secure beaver family’s future on River Otter

AFTER staggering £30,000 was raised in three weeks, a leading conservation charity is appealing for help to raise the remaining £20,000 needed to secure the future of a family of River Otter wild beavers.

 A public meeting has been arranged by Natural England in Ottery St Mary this month and public support has been dubbed “vital” in securing their return to the river banks near the town. Backed by East Devon MP Hugo Swire, the Devon Wildlife Trust applied for a licence from Natural England for their re-release in October.

 The licence would give the charity permission to set up a five year monitoring project called the River Otter Beaver Trial.  The project will oversee the population, range and health of the beavers and the effect they have on the local landscape and people.

 It will focus on the beavers’ impact on wildlife, vegetation, water flow, water quality, communities and infrastructure. But it will cost around £50,000.

Devon is leaping into action to save its beavers, and I couldn’t be happier. As I am that beaver instigator Derek Gow will be coming with Paul and Louise Ramsay to the State of The Beaver Conference! We might even lure them over for a barbecue when its all finished.

Let it be clearly said that it all started with the farmer who had the foresight to let an environmentalist install a night cam. None of this would have been possible without that. People care about what they can see. And the media never does anything without a good photo. These were the very best beaver photos in 5 centuries. Think about that.

 We have had a number of donations, some as large as several thousand pounds, and this shows the depth of feeling out there.

 “But we now have a race against time to secure the remaining amount to ensure a viable longer term project and enhance the chances of the beavers having a longer term future on the River Otter.”

 The public meeting will take place on Wednesday, January 14, at 6.30pm, Ottery St Mary Scout Centre on Winters Lane.

 You can add to their donations here:


the countryside of my ancestors, and I hope that meeting is even more crowded than the first. But in my head – from a strictly pragmatic view – it has been wonderful for beavers everywhere that DEFRA has been such monstrous idiots about this whole process. I have loved reading people extol beaver benefits from  all over Europe and even Australia. Having something to prove has been amazing for the beaver public image. I’ll almost be sorry to see it go.

Almost.

I’m looking forward to what happens next. In the mean time, I spent yesterday working on adding a Napa section to my urban beaver talk for Oregon. Rusty Cohn was kind enough to give me great photos and I think it shows elegantly the vibrant effect of beavers on a neglected city creek.

NapaBeavers

 lodge with cars

 

 

 

“The beatings will continue until morale improves.”

Posted by heidi08 On January - 3 - 2015Comments Off

 Chelan utility steps up beaver-erradication effort

 WENATCHEE — The Chelan County Public Utility District wants to get rid of pesky beavers destroying newly planted trees and shrubs in Entiat Park and shoreline vegetation in Walla Walla Point, Confluence and Riverfront parks.

 #So, the utility is expanding its contract with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to trap, remove and destroy beavers.

 ”The trapping will cease when the vegetation destruction stops,” the statement said.

How far the mighty have fallen. Wenatchee is in the very middle of Washington state, one county over from Snohomish which has had the best beaver management for 20 years. But Wenatchee just paid to plant trees in the park and can’t think of a single thing to do except kill those dam tree-chewers once and for all.  Well once anyway. New beavers will be back in the area soon, and they’ll have to wash rinse and repeat.  Never mind that they’re an hour north of Yakima and two hours south of Methow, the only option is killing.

“At this time of year, the only alternative is to remove and eliminate the beaver, since relocation wouldn’t be viable during the winter because the beaver would be unable to rebuild their dens,” a written statement released by the utility last week said. “If the beaver remain a problem in the spring, the PUD will work with Okanogan County officials to relocate the beaver in an area where their dam-building could be a beneficial erosion control method in fire-destroyed areas.”

meet it is I set it down,
That one may smile, and smile, and be a villain;
At least I’m sure it may be so in Washington.
Hamlet I:V

And there you have it, ladies and gentleman. What it looks like when people who know better lie through their smiling lips. We can’t possibly MOVE the beavers because they might starve and freeze in the cold winter. Much kinder to crush them to death now, when their warm and well fed. And no we can’t possibly protect the trees any other way. Why do you ask?

tree_wrapGood news from Jon who saw our own truant beavers building the secondary dam this morning at 5 am. Rusty caught this in Napa a couple days ago. Keep your eye on the bottom third of the video.

Last but not least, a stunning photo from our beaver friend Ann Siegal who has been similarly beaver-deprived in the long winter. I guess three great blue herons will do in a pinch.

ann blue hernons

Juvenile Great Blue Heron flies while siblings watch.
Ann Cameron Siegal