Archive for the ‘Creative Solutions’ Category

Beaver Countdown

Posted by heidi08 On July - 22 - 2014ADD COMMENTS

There are an insane number of last minute details to take care of. It’s truly astonishing how many things we have crossed off the list only to see a mountain of details remaining. I feel like a worm that ate through half an apple. I’ll never get out unless I exercise all that effort all over again.

Apparently even the beavers understand what its like because some stopped off at a store in Idaho to pick up a few things.

140721_beaver_winco1Mamma beaver, baby nabbed trying to get inside Eagle WinCo

A mamma beaver and its baby were captured Monday after trying to “shop” inside an Eagle area grocery store. The Ada County Sheriff’s Office says the beaver and its kit tried to repeatedly walk into the WinCo store Monday morning.

 The beavers were first spotted at about 6 a.m. when they were shooed away by customers, the sheriff’s office said. A deputy arrived soon after and tried to get the beaver on its way with a plastic rake.

 No luck. The beaver and its baby weren’t moving.

 Later, however, the Idaho Humane Society arrived and put them in cages. Animals in Distress officials planned to take the beavers up along Highway 21.

 ”There is some wonderful willow and aspen bark where they are going north of Idaho City,” said Toni Hicks, a longtime volunteer with Animals in Distress.

I’m glad the volunteers will find them a nicer place. Obviously someone is trapping family members down the street and these refugees were seeking asylum.  Why else would beavers go to a store? Unless they read that sign that said “Willow Bundle”. Ba-dum-tsss.

Animal Wonders wrote me back yesterday, apologizing for the nutria error and asking permission to thank me with the correction. Another infamous stock footage snafu.They have a long list of projects  to get to before they consider a beaver ecology film, but they were definitely interested.

Hello Dr. Perryman,

 Jessi Knudsen from Animal Wonders forwarded me your corrections for the beaver video we just put up on SciShow.

 Thank you! I made a mistake in trusting the titles of a stock image company we sometimes use, and I greatly appreciate you spotting those mistakes and pointing them out.

 I’ve updated our cover photo to a new one of beavers and I’ve annotated that the pictures you pointed out are nutria, and not beavers. With your permission, I’d like to give you credit for spotting these mistakes for us in our video description and point people to your website. Would that be alright with you?

 Right now, with our schedule, we can’t rerecord the video to add more information about beavers and their positive effects within their ecosystem, but I’ll gladly tell our head writer that there’s interest in an episode about that. He wrote this episode and has a special place in his heart for beavers so I’m sure he’ll be excited to hear that.

 Finally, I wanted to make sure it’s clear Animal Wonders and SciShow are two separate channels. SciShow produced this episode about beavers without input from Jessi or Animal Wonders. Because the two channels have a relationship and try to support each other, SciShow included a shout-out to Animal Wonders because the content was related.

 Obviously, we probably should consult Jessi on our animal content because she has actually helped us avoid mistakes like this in the past in episodes she’s been a guest on.

 Thank you again, Dr. Perryman. One of my favorite aspects of sharing information on YouTube is that we hear from people when our information is not correct. While we try to make sure that is very rare, when it happens, the best we can hope for is that someone will be considerate enough to tell us.

 So thank you,


 Caitlin Hofmeister
SciShow Producer

How nice! You can never tell when people will care about the truth (or when they will be indifferent to it) but this is a nice surprise. If I made all the world a little terrified about mislabeling nutria photos as beavers I would die a very happy girl.

In the meantime I plan on dying a very busy girl. The charms arrived yesterday so there are necklaces to create, display flags for the charm booths to make, and info sheets to finish. Then it’s mounting signs,  planning tables, and making lists of what we can’t possibly forget to pack for the day.

At times like these I like to remember the old riddle that sustained me through graduate school.

“How far can you walk into a deep forest”
“Only halfway. The other half you’re walking out.”





Beaver Beatitudes

Posted by heidi08 On July - 21 - 2014ADD COMMENTS

Let’s start Monday right with some good news for a change. How about this story from Oregon of a culvert repaired to allow salmon passage. Don’t worry, it gets more interesting.

Easier migration for salmon in east Multnomah County’s Beaver Creek: $500,000 fix for troublesome culverts

A coho salmon nears the end of its life’s journey in the spawning gravel of Eagle Creek, a tributary of the Columbia River in Oregon. Salmon and steelhead trout have trouble reaching their historic spawning grounds in Beaver Creek because of a culvert that makes it difficult for fish to swim or jump upstream. (The Oregonian file photo)

Culverts are box- or pipe-shaped openings that roadbuilders install to allow streams to pass underneath, but often their configuration makes it difficult for fish to swim or jump upstream. Fish ladders built into culverts to help can break over the years.

Metro awarded the county a $579,500 Nature in Neighborhoods grant July 10 to replace a culvert under Cochran Road with a bridge, allowing fish to more easily reach areas upstream from Mt. Hood Community College’s Gresham campus.

Roy Iwai, the county’s water quality manager, said a variety of local government and nonprofit groups are working together to make the creek more hospitable to its 13 species of native fish.

The water upstream from the culverts also includes plenty of natural dams from the creek’s namesake beavers, but those are passable for fish and beaver ponds provide ideal rearing habitat for young coho salmon, Iwai said.

Ohhh Oregon! You are so much smarter than most. We are all inspired to see Mr. Iwai understanding the importance of beavers to salmon. From scientist to city worker, you know that beavers are Worth A Dam. It’s so impressive. California can only hope to get there one day. Well done Beaver State!

Now we’re moving East towards Montana where they are getting a bit smarter as well.

Animal Wonders is a fully licensed and insured educational outreach organization. We provide educational presentations with live exotic animals for schools, summer camps, community events, birthday parties, and other special occasions. We travel to your location with some of our very special animal ambassadors to teach about wildlife, conservation, and a love of nature.

As you may have guessed, I am not a huge fan of slick operations that bring live animals to elementary school auditoriums to teach them an “appreciation of Nature”. I think children (and animals) are better served when  we open our front doors and let them go see for themselves – say by standing on the footbridge and watching the Martinez Beavers. (Of course it helps if folks don’t kill everything that wanders into their town so there’s things to see.) But this video,  SciShow made by Animal Wonders (because the young people like those abbrevs). isn’t bad. In fact it doesn’t have one fact I disagree with.

Just two photos. (See if you can play “Spot the Nutria”.)

Well? Did you find them? I can only hope they bring the right animal for their costly presentations! I wrote them about the mistake and said if they re-edit to include how important beavers are to fish, water and birds, we will give them amazing photos of actual beavers for free! (If you’re still puzzled, look for stiff white whiskers and narrow eyes.)

Last night our kit was up early, and out at the secondary on his own for a while doing very beavery things. Several people got to see him, including visitors from Golden Gate Audubon that missed the Wednesday walk but wanted to see for themselves. Dad beaver even showed up to take the little one past the secondary and down to where he was chewing willow. He swam along side adorably and even rode on his back for moments. Then let Dad go on his own and came back upstream to forage.

We thought how heartening it is to see Dad be so nurturing after at least seven years of kits. Apparently he still feels paternal even after all these years and 20 youngsters.

Oh we also thought it was great to see the new kit embracing prohibition and rejecting the wicked influences of alcohol.

2014 baby

2014 Kit – Heidi Perryman

Asked and Answered

Posted by heidi08 On July - 19 - 2014ADD COMMENTS

As California Dries Up, Locals Hope for El Niño

A third of California is now clenched by exceptional drought—the most severe category listed by the United States Drought Monitor. Radio ads and highway signs warn residents to conserve water, and this week the state announced $500 fines for water-wasters. But many residents continue to hope for the rain promised by a strong El Niño, says Molly Peterson, environment correspondent for Southern California Public Radio. Jay Famiglietti, senior water scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and Indiana University’s Shahzeen Attari join her to talk about what states and residents can do to weather the drought in the meantime.


Duck migration study reveals importance of conserving wetlands, researchers find

“We have lost nearly 90 percent of wetland areas in Missouri in the last century and 50 percent of wetlands across the country since the early 1800s,” Kesler said. “This loss has affected migratory bird populations and migration timing and routes. Our research shows the importance of these wetland areas to maintain healthy populations of migratory birds and other species, especially in an age of budget cuts for government programs protecting these few remaining wetland areas. If we don’t maintain these wildlife preserves it will put dozens, if not hundreds, of wildlife species in danger.”

Gosh that’s terrifying. I mean even if we stop watering lawns and flushing all the time, we’re going to need water for our crops and birds and showers, and with climate change it’s only going to get worse. If there only was some kind of easy fix that could take this problem on in every community without costing California millions of dollars. But that’s impossible right?


Welcome to the ‘Hood

Posted by heidi08 On July - 17 - 2014Comments Off

I give up. It’s impossible to prioritize or organize today’s beaver news into  one well-rounded serving. I’m just going to have to lump them together like a very disorganized (but tasty) potluck. Enjoy. Of course I’ll start with what’s most important:

City installs pond system to offset beaver activity

So as part of the city’s Beaver Management Program, two pond leveling devices were installed on July 9 in two beaver dams located near the Augustana Campus by 48th St.

 Two 20 feet long High Density Polyethylene, or HDPE, pipes were installed through the dams to allow water to flow through the ponds. The pipes are placed at a level that will allow water to balance out between the ponds. Each end of the pipe has a cage made from hog fencing to ensure blockage will not occur.

 The devices are the first of their kind to be installed in Camrose.

 “Essentially, it is a piping system that acts like a syphon,” said Glynnis Hood, associate professor in environmental science at the University of Alberta – Augustana Campus, who is spearheading the project.

 “Anytime the water gets above the level of where the pipe is placed in the dam, the syphon system starts to work and keeps the water at a consistent level rather than having the pond flood above its banks,” Hood said.

Hurray for Glynnis and her merry band of [burly] students! Hurray for Camrose and flow devices in Alberta! And Hurray for beavers who will stabilize that stream and improve conditions for fish and birds.

Hood added that her research shows the leveling system will result in significant time and monetary savings because there is less need for ongoing maintenance compared to traditional methods such as a dam removal or beaver trapping.

 Each pond levelling system cost approximately $600 in materials and about $200 for labor.

 Hood said, “It seems like a large initial cost but what we’ve found is that very low maintenance is required thereafter and it makes up for the rental of a backhoe which is about $200 to $300 an hour, not to mention the staffing that goes into it.”

 The new pond leveling system will also allow the ecosystem to thrive as there will be fewer interruptions to the area in the form of dam removals.

 Hood said, “The beavers can stay. They tend to just pack more material on top of the pipe and that actually helps our installation because it protects the pipe even more. These devices are designed to keep the pond intact, albeit at a lower level than beavers probably want them to be.”

Dr. Hood is one of the brightest stars in the beaver firmament. Every time I read about her successful persuasions with science I get a glorious feeling that one day we might actually cross the finish line. In the meantime, we still have some laps to do in our Martinez relay. Audubon enjoyed a very successful field trip last night and we have a festival to plan.

Debossed charms in silverThe brochure is finished (Thanks Amelia!) and the  charms are done (Thanks Mike!). I had a great interview with the CC Times tuesday and we are in Patch today.

Beaver Festival VII Coming Soon to Martinez

The Seventh Annual Beaver Festival in historic downtown Martinez is set for August 2, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Beaver Park, at the corner of Marina Vista and Castro Streets.

Bring the family to this free, unique Bay Area landmark event.

 The Beaver Festival features live music, wildlife exhibits from seven counties, children’s activities and beaver tours.

 Learn how and why every city should co-exist with beavers. The first 100 children earn a Wildbryde charm necklace.

 Everyone will find something special at this one-of-a-kind celebration of local nature and its most famous grassroots civic success story! To learn more about Worth A Dam (, follow this link.

Thanks Patch! Oh and just in case you wondered about DEFRA, England is still woefully stupid, but their feet are getting closer to the fire. The story was on British TV last night and  in Indian newspapers this morning.

But, don’t worry, the English aren’t always foolish. This, for example, was a brilliant decision.

London Celebrates The Monty Python Reunion By Putting A 50-Foot Dead Parrot In Potters Field Park

Go read the article, it’s that fun.

Oh and today just needs this, I can tell.

Think of the children…

Posted by heidi08 On July - 6 - 2014Comments Off

This morning’s very important cautionary tale is taken from the opinion columns of New Mexico, where a  well-meaning landowner is feeling like her good dead is getting punished, and a team of champions feel like befriending the water means making enemies on the land. The truth is that their positions are so close you can barely find daylight between them, but their hackles are so raised no one can see what shapes they take underneath. Read for yourself and then pass this on to every landowner and environmentalist you know.

My Turn: Caring about the environment by  Ceilidh Creech

A little more than two years ago I started noticing sticks in the river that bisects my property.

 Over time the stick piles grew, rocks and mud were added, a dam was formed and an environmental wonder began. Fascinated, I watched new dams at different angles being built on dry land and wondered if there was something mentally wrong with my new little residents. Why would they be building on dry land, I wondered, only to discover they knew exactly what they were doing when shortly thereafter I observed the water they had diverted to the once dry land.

 New visitors began appearing. Osprey, bald eagles, great blue heron, merganzers, mallards, teal, wood ducks and Canadian geese. Nests were built. Babies were born. The cycle of life was a joyous event that I have been privileged to observe. Birds that were not observed here before are now regulars. western tanagers, Lewis woodpeckers, red winged black birds, Bullock’s orioles, black headed and evening grosbeak, pinon, stellar and scrub jays, warblers in every color imaginable.

 For more than two years I watched the wetland environment grow, and a river that once was a puny little stream swell. And as my dry land was taken over by wetlands I defended the beaver’s right to be on my property. I spoke before the interstate stream commission, I answered to complaints (made by a seasonal resident and well known trouble maker) to state Fish and Game, The Department of Transportation and Sen. Tom Udall’s assistant.

 It was finally determined that the beavers weren’t causing problems. I made a routine of managing their activities to keep them out of trouble. I installed three flow devices to control the water levels. I began to take a sledge hammer to regularly breach their dam in five places to alleviate some of the run off. Everything seemed to be under control and the little furry family created what they were put on this earth to create. A habitat.

 I was happy to learn that the beavers are recharging the river and that an underground pond is forming below the dam, under the river, that will release water into the river during times of drought.

I finally became secure in the knowledge that the beavers could stay and would be safe from harm and would not be killed. And then a final blow was delivered from a source I would have least suspected. Amigos Bravos.

 By allowing the beavers to create a wetland on my property the water source boundaries on my property changed. Amigos Bravos, owners of nothing, champions of determining what is best for other people’s property, pushed their agenda on the county, rules were made. County rules dictating that I cannot build anything, not even a sidewalk, within 150 feet of any water source. Even though the feds, state and acequia associations already have established setbacks, the county voted to meddle in the business of water and impose harsher regulations.

So Ceilidh allows beavers to make a magical wetland out of her dry sedge and is told that now she can’t build closer to the water than 150 feet. Which means that shed or gazebo is out of the question. Why did she ever let those beavers stay? She used to own nine acres, and now she barely has two? Should other landowners take caution from her story and prevent beavers from drowning their land?

My Turn: ‘Our rivers need a voice‘ Rachel Conn

In her “My Turn” column (The Taos News, June 19), Ms. Creech makes an eloquent argument for the protection of beavers and for the fertile environmental habitats that wetlands create – habitats that enhance wildlife, raise the water table, and revitalize rivers. I certainly could not have made a better case for the importance of protecting wetlands and riparian habitat – which is the mission of Amigos Bravos and the intent of the new river protection buffers put in place by the County Commission.

CaptureCommissioners Gabriel Romero, Dan Barrone and Tom Blankenhorn are to be commended for bringing river protection into the 21st century.

 Our rivers need a voice. The new land use regulations provide space for this voice by ensuring that rivers and the creatures that depend upon rivers have the room to thrive. Prior to the new regulations, there were no restrictions on building along the banks of rivers in Taos County. As a result we have seen development in the form of residential houses, parking lots, and commercial buildings built right up to, and sometimes even hanging over the precious few rivers and streams we have in Taos County. This has resulted in problems for the river and wildlife, as well as problems for homeowners.

 Amigos Bravos believes beavers are crucial for protecting and restoring river health. On numerous occasions Amigos Bravos has fielded calls from the public concerned about beavers being trapped and killed. We have found, when taking action to stop the destruction of beavers and their dams, that beaver removal is more often that not prompted by landowners complaining that beavers are causing flooding in nearby homes or septic systems. The new comprehensive land use regulations will help to minimize these conflicts — and thus protect beavers — by ensuring that houses are built at least 85 feet from the stream.

 Many of the rivers in Taos County are not meeting water quality standards for dissolved oxygen, temperature, E.coli, and conductivity. Setbacks (buffers on either side of rivers) are effective at reducing all of these pollutants. Research has shown that setbacks are effective at removing sediment in runoff; reducing stream bank erosion; removing phosphorus, nitrogen, and other nutrients that can lead to low levels of dissolved oxygen in aquatic ecosystems. In addition, by protecting the riparian corridor along rivers and streams, the capacity of the river system to store floodwaters is increased, thereby decreasing the risk of flood damage to property. Healthy riparian corridors also help to maintain habitat for fish and other aquatic organisms; maintain base flow in stream channels; and improve the aesthetic appearance of stream corridors (which can increase property values).

Rachel has a point. And most landowners dislike E. Coli.

The truth is Ceilidh and Rachel need to sit down together over a few beers and realize that they both want the water and land protected. Rachel should be working with her team to incentivize landowners for allowing wetlands through environmental tax credits, and Ceilidh needs to recognize that even through her land seems valuable now, it’s nothing compared to what the water’s going to be worth in a few years.

Have another beer. First one’s on Worth A Dam. It’s Taos for chrissake, so we’ll chip in for some chips and salsa too.  Keep drinking and talking. Just do it.

Oh the owner and Amigo should be friends!
Oh the owner and Amigo should be friends!
One gal likes her dry lands wet
The other wants what’s built back set
but that’s no reason why they can’t be friends!
Beaver-lovin’ folks should stick together!
Beaver-lovin’ folks should all be friends.
Owners thanked with a wetland credit
Buildings kept off the waters ends!

After you’ve had a few, stagger back to her land and watch the beavers swim around in the water and play. It’s summer so their are probably little ones to enjoy. That always helps us get along better.

Beaver Independence

Posted by heidi08 On July - 5 - 2014Comments Off

Beaver Believers has hit the final 12 hours of their Kickstarter, and producer Sarah Koenisberg says she’s proud, humbled, and excited by how it’s gone! Someone has stepped forward and will match all  funds raised above $15k – pretty awesome!  So we have until 3pm today to make one final press to support this important film – the only film to feature our own Martinez Beavers and their festival! Please check your penny jar and see if you have anything left to spare.

Jon and I were on the bridge last night watching out for beavers with the massive foot traffic that was making its way down to the fireworks. Many surprised passers-by saw 4 beavers, including the little peanut who was taking advantage of the very high tide to get out of his playpen, over the secondary and swimming through the secondary to look for treats!  This is the most horrible footage in the history of the world with all the bouncing foot traffic on the secondary, but at least he had the good sense to go back inside after this. Fun to hear so many visitors saying they saw the documentary on PBS about beavers and they couldn’t wait to come back to this years festival! Even a family from Walnut Creek who were all members of the SF Scottish Fiddlers and wanted to play this year but there wasn’t room!

It looks like Derek Gow in Scotland is thinking about a legal battle over the Devon beavers and that’s music to my ears. The sinister part of DEFRA’s decision is that the conclusion of the Scottish Beaver Trial means the final decision will be made in 2015, which means beavers will be formally back in the UK and protected. So they want to get rid of these refugees NOW while they’re still unsafe. Isn’t that rotten?

Expert may mount legal challenge to Defra’s beaver removal plan

Mr Gow said: “The Eurasian beaver is a former native species. There is significant national and local support for the restoration of this species and a wider appreciation within society of the ecological benefits that would accrue from its presence. Britain is now the last large western European nation state where the species has not been reintroduced.”

 In conclusion, he said the beavers on the Otter should be captured and tested and – if clear of the EM disease – be tagged and re-released following a survey to ensure the river was a suitable home for them.

 Mr Gow added that he and his colleagues would consider a legal challenge if Defra went ahead with the capture and re-homing programme.

 Go Derek Go! He has been lone voice for beaver in the region for so long, but the tide is changing and he’s not alone anymore. And this is just the kind of negative ad campaign Martinez learned was so effective in raise public support for beavers! Nice work DEFRA!

I was a little more surprised to see the Austrian version of this story running Cheryl’s photo! But it’s on wikipedia so that means everyone in the world can use it. Your welcome!

Capture And even if you had your share of fireworks last night, you HAVE to watch this because it’s a historic first that was never possible before and may never be legal again. This was filmed by drone last night from INSIDE the explosion of fireworks in West Palm Beach Florida in May. It had a couple thousand hits when I first saw it last night, now it is cresting 2 million. Aside from being the single best use of a drone ever, watch all the way through, because it will blow every part of your mind.

Apparent this amazing use of the drone caught the attention of authorties and is illegal. Check out the disapproving article on Forbes. But if Jos Stiglingh does ever get in trouble for this his attorney only needs to show the video to the jury. Because it’s awesome.

Bringing out the big guns…

Posted by heidi08 On July - 4 - 2014Comments Off

Stop the control freaks who want to capture England’s wild beavers

The government is going against public opinion, and its reasons for wanting to rehome beavers in Devon fall apart easily

British people love wildlife, but the government, yet again, seems determined to show that it hates it.

 An opinion poll in Scotland found that 86% of respondents were in favour of reintroducing the beaver. As most people seem to understand, it’s a magnificent animal which can enrich our lives and our countryside. It was once part of our native fauna, but was exterminated by hunting. It’s also a critically important species, essential to the functioning of aquatic ecosystems.

 So when beavers were discovered, living and breeding on the River Otter in Devon, after they escaped from a collection somewhere, the public reaction was, overwhelmingly, delight. It’s the first population to live freely in England for hundreds of years.

So how does the government respond to this enthusiasm? “We intend to recapture and rehome the wild beavers in Devon,” says the environment minister, George Eustice. Why?

The government gives the following reasons for capturing England’s only free beavers:

 Depending on the source of the animals, they could be carrying a disease not currently present in the UK. In addition, beavers have not been an established part of our wildlife for the last 500 years. Our landscape and habitats have changed since then and we need to assess the impact they could have.

 Let’s take these one by one. The disease it’s referring to is alveolar echinococcosis, which infects animals and (less frequently) humans, and is caused by the fox tapeworm (Echinococcus multilocularis). It can be carried by many species. As the government says, the disease is not present in the UK, and it should certainly be kept out.

 A government assessment notes that the probability of a beaver brought to Britain being infected with this tapeworm “is negligible if sourced from a free area (e.g. Norway) and low if sourced from an endemic area (e.g. Bavaria).” Free means places without fox tapeworm; endemic means places where some animals are infected.

 We don’t yet know where the Devon beavers (or their ancestors) originated. But there’s a straightforward, single-step test for determining whether or not they are carrying Echinococcus multilocularis: a DNA analysis of their faeces. It’s so accurate that you can detect the presence of the tapeworm from less than a single egg. In other words, you can discover whether or not England’s only free beavers are carrying the disease without having to capture them.

This is one of those articles that’s so well written and spot-on in every single way that it’s impossible to choose the ‘good bits’ to quote. You need to go read the whole thing, especially the part where he talks about staying with Paul and Louise in Bamff and delighting in their beavers firsthand.

A couple of months ago, I visited Bamff in Perthshire, where beavers have been allowed to recolonise the valley of a small stream. The results are astonishing: a transformation from dull pastureland to a mosaic of ponds and marshes, little lawns (maintained by the beavers) and coppiced trees, swarming with life of all kinds.

 In the evening, hiding under the trees, I watched the beavers, which are shy animals, emerging from their dams, swimming around the pools they have created, feeding and playing. I defy you to do the same without becoming entranced. Watching them turn from hippo to dolphin and back again as they moved between land and water, picking up hints about their elaborate social structures as they groomed each other and swam together, seeing them navigate the marshy maze they’ve built, I was overtaken by an awe and enchantment that I have seldom felt in this country.

Good lord. Can you imagine the conversation that night sitting down to a pint (or a sherry?) with Paul and Louise by a crackling fire in the great room and talking about a UK filled with beavers? I am so jealous I can almost taste it. But thank God for the Ramsay’s and their gentrified protection of beavers. They bring a very classy element to the discussion.

As for the claim that “Our landscape and habitats have changed since then and we need to assess the impact they could have”, Miles King has neatly swatted it on his excellent blog:

 Sorry? Defra are suggesting that a once ubiquitous native mammal, which was hunted to extinction, might not fit into our modern landscape and habitats. Surely that’s a problem with our perception of landscape, not an argument for removing a native mammal. As for habitats, look at the equivalent habitats in Europe with beavers and compare them with the UK habitats without, then tell me we will be better off without them … The point is that beavers create habitats and public environmental goods that we have missed for the last 500 years; habitats that support a whole range of other species. Is it better to create a pond with a Hy-mac, or have a beaver create one?

 When the given excuses fall apart so readily, we need to look for other explanations. One, perhaps, is this government’s obsession with control, and its apparent desire to imprison anything and anyone that does not conform to an ever narrower range of prescribed behaviour. Another is its determination to appease powerful interest groups, even if they carry almost none of the public with them.

 In this case the group lobbying hardest for their removal is, incomprehensibly, the Angling Trust.

Hand me the popcorn. If George Moonbiot is really going after the beaver-phobic anglers, I want a front row seat. I am sick and tired of pretend fishermen being revered when they lie about beavers.

I find the trust’s position astonishing. Throughout the period in which beavers last lived in Britain, almost all our rivers swarmed with vast runs of migratory fish such as salmon, sea trout, lampreys and shad. Giant sturgeon swam from the sea into the heart of Britain. Huge burbot lurked on the river beds. Today, burbot and sturgeon are extinct here and the populations of many other species, especially the migratory fish, have been greatly reduced.

 Studies show that in both Sweden and Poland, the trout in beaver ponds are on average larger than those in the other parts of the streams: the ponds provide them with habitats and shelter they cannot find elsewhere. Young salmon grow faster and are in better condition where beavers make their dams than in other stretches.

I’m an angler, and the Angling Trust does not represent me on this issue. I know others who are disgusted by the trust’s position, and it would not be surprising to discover that the majority of its members belong to the 86%. Most anglers, in my experience, have a powerful connection with nature. The chance of seeing remarkable wild animals while waiting quietly on the riverbank is a major part of why we do it.

 When I visited Bamff in May, the pools and runs the beavers had created were stippled with rising brown trout, feasting on the resurgent insect life. Hawthorn flies and iron blue duns – species of great interest to anglers – clouded the air, in greater numbers than I’ve seen anywhere else in Britain. Why would people who fish not want this?

Oh my goodness. I think I have a crush on Mr. Moonbiot. I haven’t read anything so fun in a while. This should throw a monkey wrench into the works at DEFRA. I hope so anyway. In the meantime I’m just happy Paul and Louise are out there on the front lines, making a difference.

Oh and guess who just came back from a visit with them? Our old friend from New Zealand, William Hughes Games. He wrote about his lovely adventure here, you’ll definitely want to see the visit through his eyes. He also took on those stubborn anglers, well armed with research.

Benefits of Beavers to Fish

However, it would be hard to justify beaver dams just on the fact that they don’t impede the migration of salmon and trout. The really important reason for beaver ponds vis a vis fish is that they are fantastic nurseries for fish. Rather than typing the whole story again, have a look at this site. In point form, Beaver ponds:

 * catch twigs, wood chips leaves and so forth which powers a cellulose based detritus cycle which feeds juvenile salmon

* catch spent adult salmon in the fall and incorporate their nutrients into the pond ecology and ecology of the surrounding area – also feeding juvenile salmon when they hatch out in the spring.

* increase the total amount of salmon habitat by turning seasonal streams into perrenial streams and providing perennial ponds.

* clear the water of silt making the habitat more acceptable for salmon and trout and allowing light down to the bottom of the stream so that water plants can root and grow.

* provide deep water where predatory wading birds can not operate

* provide many nooks and cranies around the lodge and dam were small fish can hide.

* provide quiet water so that the energy the fish takes in with its food is used for growth instead of for fighting currents.

* evens out stream temperature.

Oh and because the Gods of beavers combine all intelligent things eventually, William ends his entry with a quote from Mr. Moonbiot on re-wildling.

Lastly a word about rewilding, not from me but from George Monbiot. I put this in because many people in Scotland, amongst them beaver enthusiasts, are determined, in so far as possible, to bring back the exact variety of Castor fiber that existed in Scotland before it was extirpated. The Norwegian variety seems to be the favored one. I can see where they are coming from but I would be inclined to bring some beavers from all over Europe, introduce them into various catchments and see which variety does best in an ecology which is nothing like it was 400 years ago, never mind a thousand years ago. Further more, let them breed together when they meet and with this greater available genetic pool, develop a beaver by natural selection which is most suited to Scotland. George Monbiot, it his book Feral, p8 expresses it much better than I could.

“So young a word , yet so many meanings. By the time ‘rewilding’ entered the dictionary, in 2011, it was already hotly contested. When it was first formulated, it meant releasing captive animals into the wild. Soon the definition expanded to describe the reintroduction of animals and plants species to habitats from which they had been excised. Some people began using it to mean the rehabilitation, not just of particular species, but of entire ecosystems; a restoration of wilderness. Anarcho-primitivists then applied the word to human life, proposing a wilding of people and their cultures. The two definitions of interest to me, however, differ slightly from all of these.

 The rewilding of natural ecosystems that fascinates me is not an attempt to restore them to any prior state, but to permit ecological processes to resume. In countries such as my own [UK], the conservation movement, while well intentioned, has sought to freeze living systems in time. It attempts to prevent animals and plants from either leaving or – if they do not live there already – entering. It seeks to manage nature as if tending a garden. Many of the ecosystems, such as heaths and moorland, blanket bog and rough grass, that it tries to preserve, are dominated by the low, scrubby vegetation which remains after forests have been repeatedly cleared and burnt. This vegetation is cherished by wildlife groups, and they prevent it from reverting to wood-land through intensive grazing by sheep, cattle and horses. It is as if conservationists in the Amazon had decided to protect the cattle ranches, rather than the rainforest.”

 by the by, have a look at George’s TED talk on rewilding.