Archive for the ‘Creative Solutions’ Category

Beavers head for Belly of the Beast

Posted by heidi08 On April - 20 - 2015ADD COMMENTS

CaptureNo rest for the beaver-y. Now I have 6 whole days to get ready for my upcoming talk at SARSAS  next monday. SARSAS stands for Save Auburn Ravine for Salmon and Steelhead. I met the founder/director Jack Sanchez at the Salmonid restoration conference in Santa Barbara last year, and he asked me to be part of the dynamic and packed  list of speakers they host. (In fact he mentioned that they already had a beaver expert but she wasn’t very positive about them, and I knew at ONCE who he meant.

highlighted permitsJack accompanied me to the meeting we had with CDFW last November after a review of depredation permits showed Placer issued 9 times more permits than anywhere else in the state. I am thrilled to be marching boldly into enemy lines to deliver the beaver gospel. We might even have a few friendly faces at the meeting as Sherry, Ted, and Janet aren’t far away.

 This is from the Placer County E-Newsletter:

April SARSAS Meeting

I’ll relax when we get the TIME CORRECTED. (Sheesh!) And if it’s not corrected I’ll just stay there and give the talk again to anyone who shows up! In the meantime I am busily working on graphics for the talk. I especially like this one. Don’t you? The background is the beloved drawing of a series of dams in a gorge from Morgan’s book. Overlaid with swirling column of fish.

salmondsNice video from Rusty this morning of beavers eating their spring diet. Enjoy!

Conservation Awareness

Posted by heidi08 On April - 17 - 2015ADD COMMENTS

What a great article from Troy Alabama. I won’t say of all places because Alabama is the site of the most important fine EVER for removing a beaver dam and destroying the habitat of the rare watercress darter. Looks like the city of Troy learned nothing from their northern cousin’s misfortune.

Dam destruction raises concern

The city of Troy tore down a beaver dam beside McKinley Drive near the walkway that connects the Edge apartment complex to campus.

Vaughn Daniels, environmental services director for the city of Troy, said the city worked with the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources to make sure the dam removal was environmentally safe.

 The beavers were not killed, Daniels said.  According to Daniels, the dam was a threat to the road.

 After the beaver dam was removed, the pond it created drained.

 Members of Troy University’s Environmental Club moved animals from the remains of the pond to the Lagoon.

 “In one day out there doing a visual survey, we saw 3-foot grass carp, sunfishes, red-winged blackbirds, belted kingfishers, musk turtles, pond sliders, gray and green tree frogs, Eastern garter snakes, as well as a huge female great horned owl,” said Tanner Stainbrook, a senior ecology and field biology major from Huntsville and a member of the Environmental Club, in an email. 

Members of the Environmental Club have voiced concern about the effects tearing down the dam will have on the area.  “The big thing is that this eliminated the major wetland ecosystem in the area,” Stainbrook said. “This mud hole, in two days, will be just that. There’ll be no water left.”

Group members said they were concerned that this may harm the great horned owl’s habitat, as the owl fed on the frogs in the pond.

A university, an environmental club, and a sympathetic reporter. Something tells me these beavers might be making a splash. I spent time yesterday tracking all the major players so I could make sure they new about solutions and consequences of dam removal. I haven’t heard anything back, but I’m hopeful. And it gave me a new idea for responding to these stories. Since we review every beaver report that’s written every year, we may as well give notice to the best and the worst beaver articles of each caagory. Gradually notify contenders that they’re in the running and pick the winners in January. I already got Robin excited about the idea and she’s going to help! I took the liberty of inspiring myself for the project with some graphics this morning. Hahaha! Aren’t they fun?

best beaver bylinebad beaver byline

A less pleasant article came out of Norway yesterday about one of the many hazards of beaver life. It’s nice to see it written about respectfully though  (except for the headline).

Timber! Beaver crushed by tree it was felling


The unlucky beaver trapped under a birch. Photo: Beate Strøm Johansen

A beaver in Norway has been crushed to death after misjudging which way the tree it was gnawing down was going to fall.

 Beate Strøm Johansen, a Zoologist at the Agder Natural History museum in Kristiansand on the southern tip of Norway, was called to the scene after a local logger stumbled upon the unfortunate animal.

 “This beaver has been extremely unlucky,” she told The Local. “I hope it’s not something that happens very often for the beavers’ sake.”

 Johansen said that beavers normally have an uncanny ability to predict when and where a tree is likely to fall.

 “When the tree is falling they have to jump aside so the tree doesn’t hit them. Instinctively, they should know where it is falling, but sometimes they don’t know which way to jump,” she explained.

I might be strange, but it seems almost kind of sweet to read this article. As if it mattered that a beaver was killed by a tree when we all know sooo many are killed on purpose. Yes trees are unpredictable, and I’m not sure beavers have any uncanny abilities to know where they’re falling except practice and luck. As the old saying goes, that which doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

Now it’s time to invite you to the birthday Earthday event at John Muir tomorrow. The event information is here for you to print. The guest speaker is going to be Beth Pratt for the wildlife federation, the winner of the conservationist of the year is going to be our friend Camilla Fox, and the non-profit of the year is going to be our friends at the River Otter Ecology Project. My congressman is getting a lifetime legacy award, which we hope he will be able to pick up in person. At the moment my office is literally surrounded with art supplies for our ‘build your own totem’ project. Rusty from Napa is coming to help with our booth and 57 other environmental exhibits will be on hand to celebrate the day. Plus Frank Helling as John Muir, which is sooo appealing. Whatever your planning tomorrow stop right now and plan to come. It will be an amazing day.

awards 2014My graphic for the award winners will be a big sign. The background is Muir’s letter to Enos Mills congratulating him on his conservation work and inviting him to the house. See for yourself.

Muir letter









“The quality of beavers is twice-blessed”

Posted by heidi08 On April - 16 - 2015Comments Off

Major beaver victory in Ontario, Canada this morning:

Hamilton Conservation Authority creates new protocol to let Fifty Point beavers be

A new protocol for dealing with wildlife conflicts at local conservation areas will leave beavers at Fifty Point alone unless they wreak major havoc.

 Set to go to Hamilton Conservation Authority directors for approval in May, the protocol only allows lethal trapping as a last resort in cases where beavers are a significant threat to health and safety, property or the natural environment.

 Directors placed a moratorium on lethal trapping last May after a Fifty Point neighbour’s discovery of a dead muskrat and injured snapping turtle in two beaver traps in the park’s trout pond created a public outcry.

He said if beavers aren’t creating an immediate flood risk, park staff will simply monitor their impact and if necessary consider habitat modifications, like fencing trees and modifying culverts so they can’t be blocked.

 If beavers have built a dam that is a flood threat, depending on the situation the authority may remove it or try less intrusive measures, like installing a flow device to restore normal water levels, the told the authority’s conservation advisory board.

 “Humane, lethal trapping is the last resort if you’ve got acute significant issues and the other approaches you’ve tried are not successful,” Stone said. “Generally, our preference is to leave wildlife alone.”

Go Hamilton! Fifty Point is an actual place, for a while I was reading this headline as if it meant fifty beavers at point! I had to hunt all over to find who’s responsible for this bit of beaver magic, but it turns out Hamilton is the home town of the Digital Director of content and the voice behind the radio at Fur Bearer Defenders, Michael Howie. So I’m not at all surprised they could will this into happening. Here’s their article on the victory.

The issue arose last year when a resident was out for a walk and came across a muskrat and an at-risk snapping turtle in beaver traps. The Fur-Bearers (and our wonderful supporters) spoke with the media, the Conservation Authority, and local politicians about non-lethal solutions following that news; it would appear the decision makers liked what they heard.

image1Last night I received the completely unexpected request for photo use from Demitrios Kouzios, a dedicated Cubs fan from Chicago who said he tweeted a beaver picture from our website and wanted to pay for its use. The photo was this, (hahaha) which I replied wasn’t ours, wasn’t a beaver and wasn’t even alive. Which he was thrilled to hear. He thanked me heartily and this morning donated $100 to Worth A Dam! Go Cubs!

Then Robin of Napa pointed me to  me this article on wildlife and traffic in the chronicle, reporting a study by the very group we featured this week. It also tells you where the danger spots are here in the Bay Area.

Mapping roadkill hot spots across a bloody state

Californians, with their famous love of the highway, tend to run over a lot of animals — raccoons, deer, desert iguana. But the danger for road-crossing critters may be rising with the drought.

A UC Davis study released Wednesday, which seeks to promote safety for both wildlife and motorists, identifies stretches of California asphalt where the most animals have been hit — and where more are likely to die in the baking sun as they extend their ranges in search of water.

CaptureFinally, in case you forgot to watch Nature last night there was unbelievably adorable footage of beaver kits in the lodge in winter. You will miss out on something truly special if you don’t go watch it right now. Beavers appear at the beginning and the end (the Alpha and the Omega as it were) but it’s all good. Ann Prum did a great job, although not better than our friend Jari Osborne who was prescient enough to just focus on beavers! Enjoy!

The quality of mercy is not strained;
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest;
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes:
Merchant of Venice, ACT IV: Scene 1

Beaver message trickles East

Posted by heidi08 On April - 14 - 2015Comments Off

Busy as a beaver: unique partnership helps maintain riverside trees

UI allows the native beaver to gnaw down invasive trees, while saving protected species.  Keeping the University of Iowa campus beautiful is a full-time job. Luckily, the UI Landscape Services team gets a little assistance each year in the form of some notoriously busy helpers: the nocturnal, semi-aquatic beaver.

 Beavers, a native Iowa species, typically gnaw down trees along the UI campus riverbanks, which is fine for some tree species, but not for others. Instead of stopping the beavers’ behavior, the tree care team decided to work with the beavers’ natural talents. By wrapping valued native and planted trees with protective wire, the invasive and common native species like Boxelder, White Mulberry, Siberian Elm, Willow, Green Ash, and Silver Maple, are left for the beavers to utilize in their underwater homes for food and shelter.

It is true that beavers can be destructive if their work is not redirected; however, under the right circumstances they can be used as an effective, low-cost management tool. Next to humans, no other animal appears to do more to take care of its landscape.

“While there may be a number of trees gnawed off along the riverbanks, the beavers’ work will not kill the tree as the root system is still intact, so the tree typically will resprout. As long as they continue to do this to the invasive species, we don’t have a problem with them. They’re a spoke in the wheel of life as are the trees, as are we,” says Andy Dahl, UI arborist. “We’re happy to have them as our partners to manage the riverbanks.”

Go Andy and UI! Awesome to read that the Hawekeye State has at least an island committed to coexistence. Sometimes I get the feeling that the beaver good news is spreading so far and permeating so deep that there eventually won’t be a single state where it doesn’t exist.

Except Oklahoma. Because, you know.

“The flood recovery is helping us to clean up and better celebrate the Iowa River. Those busy beavers are helping to contribute to that effort,” says Don Guckert, associate vice president of Facilities Management.

Even in Fargo ND the attitude towards beavers is changing. Just look at this:

Beavers beware: Fargo Park Board mulls trapping, killing

FARGO—Because of tree damage caused by beavers along the Red River, the Fargo Park Board will meet tonight to consider trapping and killing the animals in hopes of reining in their population.

“We’re not trying to eliminate all the beavers,” said Dave Leker, director of parks. “We’re just trying to reduce them.”

 Leker said the district has received a number of calls from residents worried about beavers harming mature, riparian trees. He said there’s no problem with beavers using small trees for food and dam building, but the destruction of decades-old trees concerns district officials.

 Sam DeMarais, the district’s forester, said he’s counted roughly 70 trees gnawed by beavers in city parks. Many of the trees have been felled, and in other cases, beavers have chewed off the bark all the way around the lower trunk. This is known as girdling, which is a death sentence for a tree, Leker said.

“Beavers are part of the natural ecosystem, and so are trees,” he said. “It’s kind of a no-win situation. You’re going to have people that, you know, are rooting for the beavers, and you’re going to have people that are rooting for the trees.”

Hmmm Fargo hasn’t exactly exhausted their resources trying to solve this problem. But it’s still better that they don’t want to kill ALL the beavers. An inquiring mind might ask how many beaver they have? And how they’ll chose which ones to kill?   The Sophie’s choice of beavers, I guess. They are going to contact USDA next. Now how could that possibly go wrong?

Fit for a Prince

Posted by heidi08 On April - 4 - 2015Comments Off

How many beavers is too many for Calgary’s Prince’s Island Park?

There are estimated to be several hundred beavers living in Calgary, clustered along the Elbow and Bow Rivers. One beaver can easily kill more than a hundred trees a year, which is a concern for the city, especially in its most-used park.

 Manderson says the city is considering whether it makes sense to let the family stay in Prince’s Island Park, or perhaps limit the number of beavers allowed to stay.

 “After the flood there has been a lot of change,” he said. “There are new areas the beavers are exploiting that they may not have in the past…what we do is keep on top of that with increased monitoring and wiring. I don’t know if there is a major number that I can say, ‘this size of park, this many beavers,’ I don’t know if it’s that easy.”

 The city also wants to protect the trees and areas around the lagoon, said Manderson, but without harming any of the animals. The last thing officials want to do is to trap or relocate any beavers, as that too often ends in the animals’ death. The first option is to encourage the beavers to move along on their own.

islandMaplargeCalgary Prince Island park is one of those city parks set in the middle of the river (this time the Bow River) with one side developed for festivals and the other side tapering into wetlands for birds and birders. For the most part it is accessible only by footbridges and is a treasure in the city as you might well imagine. Here’s a map that gives you a general idea.

When I read a headline like “How many beavers is too many” I immediately think of the answer “I’ll tell you the number if it gets close to happening”. But obviously in an area like that they could get lots of beaver visitors. They think they have hundreds, an23252_projects-tonbridge-2bd they can’t  really. What they actually have is a drive thru banquet table on the middle of a beaver highway. And even if they kill 500 beavers the only way they’re going to protect those trees is to protect those trees! If they don’t want to individually wire wrap them all, then build several  brick perimeter fences around a clump – at least 3 feet high. Don’t raise the bed. Beavers don’t climb and what they can’t reach they won’t eat. I promise.

I think Mr. Manderson gets a letter.


Now onto more local interest. Guess what’s on page two of this issue of Bay Nature Magazine? I’m pretty happy with the way it came out. Even for a small ad it’s pretty eye catching don’t you think?

I would be pretty unhappy if I were one of the other three ads on this page. Knowing what we paid they paid a chunk of money and who will even see them when there’s adorable beavers to catch their eyes?

Which reminds me that I just got permission from artist Mark Poulin to use his button designs in some kind of shirt for Worth A Dam staff. Just to show off their purpose. I really like the way this looks so far, but am still tweaking.

Beavers Keep it Together

Two final pieces of very good news. Look at our lovely footbridge dam! It’s getting so big I know Dad thinks there are kits to protect!

NMS_5788And ooh just look what one of our new stakes is doing! Doesn’t that look delicious?


Beaver Spring

Posted by heidi08 On April - 3 - 2015Comments Off

We need a real beaver update first off. The secondary dam (name to be changed soon) is HUGE. And one of our new stakes is already sprouting! Jon spied a mother with 12 baby ducks yesterday and we went down to beaver watch this morning. Our kit (almost yearling, birthday in May) was swimming back and forth in front of the hole where they live, and a parent swimming up from down stream after a night feeding. She had to CLIMB up over the monumental dam before heading to sleep for the day. A great beaver morning.

I’ve been waiting forever to share this great new research from Dr. Ellen Wohl. There is so much happening lately there’s never time to catch up. If you want to remind yourself who she is listen to this short clip. It remains the single most pithy description of beaver benefits I’ve ever heard. Photos courtesy of Worth A Dam, of course.

CaptureCaptureSee how she just slips in the good news about beavers along side the already largely accepted news about wood??? Her research has made a huge difference in the way folks look at beavers, and I’m sure there’s more where that came from. Go read the whole thing here:

Bring-the-Kids-to-Washington-DCs-Cherry-Blossom-Festival--f630c1399fd04849bbe91183f25cc6dfIt’s Cherry Blossom Festival time which reminded to share an old story. A while ago some patriotic beaver started chewing down the National trees, and the decision of whether to kill them or not caused a bit of a stir. Now the  trees have their own mascot to protect them. Paddles the beaver, which reminds visitors not to pick blossoms.

5741842234_5bbed33ed5CaptureThere’s a new resource for beaver restoration in the world, compiled by Rebecca Haddock of the Miistakis Institute of Alberta. She attended the state of the beaver conference and liked what she learned. This is what I would call a great start, although it is missing info on several key players like the Lands Council and/or Methow Project in Washington, The Beaver Advocacy Committee in Oregon, Sherri Tippie in Colorado, even more locally to them Cows and Fishes in Alberta! -)Not to mention you know who in California…) The full report is online at OAEC here.

And as our beavers get more visible, the ones in Napa do to. Here’s footage Rusty shot yesterday of Mom and Dad swimming together.

Lastly, I just got a request from Mountain Lake in NY to use Cheryl’s photo in a podcast they were releasing about beavers. They gave us a very nice plug, Go see for yourself.


Beaver Cheer x3

Posted by heidi08 On April - 2 - 2015Comments Off

Ooh this is a fun day. There is so much good news to share, I’m like a kid in a beaver store! You will be too. Let’s start with a late April Fools from Canada that I received yesterday afternoon. I was excited by the headline, but you’re sure to be thrilled by the photo.

Beaver-deceivers to beaver believers

040115_beavers-590x433What started out as an ecologist’s dream ended up a nightmare mired in mud, myth and misery.

 Rainer Wasserman is a 38-year old ecologist at The Ohio State University of Ohio, whose work used to focus on wetland restoration and ecosystems.

 “When I first heard it, I didn’t believe it,” he said, shaking his head. He was referring to the first confirmed sighting of the Castorimorpha megaloenochae, a giant aquatic relative of the beaver, whose destructive power is equalled only by its orneriness. “I never saw one; neither did anyone else I’ve worked with over the years. Until recently, that is.”

 The almost mythical creature came to the forefront recently when a 3-acre detention basin along King Street flooded in 2014. Great piles of debris blocked a culvert that allows for the basin to properly drain. And though beavers were fingered as obvious culprits, no one, in the basin’s ten year history, had ever actually seen the animals in the act of building the dams.

Hahaha! It reminds me of what I often say about our Castoroides skull….THIS is the size of the problems the city thought the beavers were going to cause! YS Ohio has definitely stepped onto the beaver stage this year. It has swallowed their news cycle, just like it did in Martinez. Funny to read a giant beaver is ruining a retention pond. To tell the truth though, considering the untrue things you say about beavers all the time, this article really isn’t that special.

Now it’s time to thank Connecticut because they had enough state pride to promote their resident filmmaker’s  3-part series on CPTV  starting next week. I thought it was only going to show on the east coast, but when I called I learned that it  will air on all PBS stations. The second part airs on tax day and will be about beavers!

CPTV to Air New Three-Part Nature Miniseries from New Haven Filmmaker Ann Johnson Prum

Connecticut Public Television (CPTV) will premiere the new three-part miniseries “Animal Homes” from filmmaker Ann Johnson Prum of New Haven, Conn., as part of the long-running PBS natural history series Nature on Wednesday, April 8 at 8 p.m. Parts 2 and 3 of the series will air on Wednesdays, April 15 and 22, also at 8 p.m.

This three-part series provides intimate, never-before-seen views of the lives of animals in their homes. It investigates just how animals build their remarkable homes around the globe and the intriguing behaviors and social interactions that take place in and around them.

 Filmmaker Ann Johnson Prum, an avid outdoorswoman, has produced television documentaries for the past 20 years with a focus on the arts, science and nature. Her 2010 documentary “Hummingbirds: Magic in the Air” was nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Nature Programming, and her film “An Original DUCKumentary” won the 2013 Emmy Award for Outstanding Nature Programming. Both films also aired on CPTV as part of the Nature series.

“Animal Homes: Location, Location, Location” (Premiering Wednesday, April 15 at 8 p.m.) – Finding a good base of operations is key to successfully raising a family. One must find the right stream or tree, the right building materials, neighbors and sometimes tenants. In the wild, every home is a unique DIY project, every head of household a designer and engineer. Cameras chart the building plans and progress of beavers, black bears, hummingbirds and woodrats, examining layouts and cross sections, evaluating the technical specs of their structures and documenting their problem-solving skills. Animal architecture provides insights into animal consciousness, creativity and innovation.

Whoohooo! More beavers on PBS! Thanks CT for the promotion, because I might not have known. I guess they were pretty happy with how Jari Osborne’s documentary did last year. You can read all about the upcoming miniseries here. Here’s a great promo to whet your appetite.

Something too look forward to on April 15th. How often can you say that?

Onto my favorite part of this trifecta of beaver cheer. It’s the just-spring update from Spring Farm Cares an animal sanctuary in New York. They’re good friends of Beavers: Wetlands & Wildlife. Their beavers have just broken through the ice to check for treats. They made sure they weren’t disappointed.

BP 3 30 15 22

Beaver under ice – Spring Farm Cares

BP 3 30 15 25

Breaver Breaks Through Ice – Spring Farm Cares

BP 3 30 15 43

Iceworld – Spring Farm Cares


BP 3 30 15 42
Beaver emerges- Spring Farm Cares

Aren’t those lovely? You might want to go see the whole thing for yourself here. Consider dropping something in their tip jar because they are doing wonderful things. There’s even adorable muskrats under ice photos. I’m very jealous that we never get to see beavers under ice, but there is one thing they photographed that Martinez has seen many, many times before.

which first

Leaving nothing to chance – Spring Farm Cares