Archive for the ‘Environmental’ 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

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.

Birds and Beavers

Posted by heidi08 On July - 15 - 2014Comments Off

Tomorrow night our own Cheryl and Jon will lead a Golden Gate Audubon “Birds and Beavers” walk. It’s a wonderful way to show off the great relationship between these species, and encourage folks to come back for the beaver festival!

I’m trying to limit my hopes to three things:

  1. They get to see baby-head.
  2. A lovely night heron, egret, kingfisher and and/or green heron
  3. They remember to mention THIS article!

coppice color F

Birds & Beavers in Martinez — FAMILY BIRD WALK
Wednesday July 16, 7 p.m.
Anthony DeCicco,

 This is part of a series of GGAS Summer 2014 bird walks geared to families with children or to more experienced young “junior birders,” and led by our expert Eco-Education staff. Join us as we look for wetland birds near the Martinez Regional Shoreline — such as Green Herons and Belted Kingfishers — on our way to visit the famous beaver dens along Alhambra Creek. We hope to see the beaver kits born this year! Advance RSVP required. For details and directions, please see

Good luck team beaver! And if all this talk of Audubon and research is too lofty for a Tuesday morning, here’s something to appeal more broadly.

VIDEO: here’s Rob Ford as a muppet beaver

For the past little while, Rob Ford–based comedy has been a story of diminishing returns. Late-night hosts have had their fun with the mayor, leaving the wreckage of his term for lesser satirists to pick over. But there’s something about this clip from No, You Shut Up, a Jim Henson Company talk show that airs on American cable TV, that makes us remember what it was like before all this “crack scandal” stuff became as irritating and omnipresent as refrigerator hum. This time, Ford is a muppet beaver being interviewed by comedian Paul F. Tompkins. The beaver’s Ford impression is actually quite good. And that’s all you need to know.

Ask the Experts

Posted by heidi08 On July - 9 - 20141 COMMENT

Beaver proves to be nuisance neighbour for Bathurst-area man

Hazen McCrea wants the province to deal with beaver dam blocking a culvert for fears of flooding

Beaver dam blocks culvert by Hazen McCrea’s home

A beaver dam is blocking the culvert that drains Hazen McCrea’s property and he’s worried about flooding if the provincial government doesn’t do something to help. (Bridget Yard/CBC)

The structure is starting to interfere with proper drainage of the 81-hectare property and if the beaver continues construction, McCrea worries about where all the water will go.

A beaver dam is blocking the culvert that drains Hazen McCrea’s property and he’s worried about flooding if the provincial government doesn’t do something to help. (Bridget Yard/CBC)

But he says every time he calls the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure, he gets the run around.

Department officials told CBC News the beaver dam is not in the department’s right-of-way and suggested contacting the Department of Natural Resources.

New Brunswick is on the other side of Maine located about 500 miles from the inventor of the beaver deceiver which protects culverts (Skip Lisle in Vermont).  I’m not clear why New Brunswick is so totally unprepared for beavers, except that its very near PEI which is NOTORIOUS in dealing with beavers. Maybe all that helplessness and beaver stupid  floated in with the tides?

anne-trapping(Indulgent aside: This is one of my first and favorite graphics in the history of my beaver life. I couldn’t find it at first in my files – but no worries. I just googled PEI Beavers and it was the first image that came up.

Hahaha. I must be very popular in the region.)

beaver taking bath

Lory sent this photo the other day and it deserves our adoring attention. It also reminds us that it’s kit season and well-meaning rehabbers from  Calgary to Kentucky are inheriting the orphaned beavers of a trap-happy world. It turns out taking care of kits is a lot more complicated than most people realize. I do all I can to funnel information to our good friend and adviser Cher Button-Dobmeier of the Abbe-freeland Animal Sanctuary. She has rehabbed thousands of beavers and realizes the mistakes folks are most likely to make.


Cheryl and I have been begging her to write something for the rehab section, but she is resistant. “Every kit is different” she says. “And I don’t want people to feel like they are confident in what to do. I want people to ASK and keep asking, so that we can spot the problems before they become un-fixably fatal.”

It’s hard to argue with that.

Cher Button-Dobmeier, Director
Abbe-Freeland Animal Sanctuary, Inc.
8104 Terwilliger Rd.
Angelica, NY 14709

Muskrat love?

Posted by heidi08 On July - 8 - 2014Comments Off

Mary Sonis: Muskrat love: An expose

The muskrat is a prolific water rodent that can be found in most slow creeks and ponds throughout North America. Romance in early spring is not characterized by candlelight and dancing (and yes, those are actual lyrics) but by the bloodbath that occurs between males fighting for territory and breeding rights.

 Muskrats are feisty, and will often fight to the death before breeding begins. Generally, the females are not involved in this fray, but they do wander the pond in breeding season, emitting small squeaks that advertise their availability. Once the female has found a mate, it is a fairly monogamous relationship, and she will often produce as many as three litters in a season. A typical litter will average six kits, primarily cared for by their mother. She raises them in a den that is a loosely built mound of grasses set high to avoid spring floods.

This is a cute article about an oft-overlooked species, but I’m not sure about the word bloodbath? We haven’t seen tons of suffering males in our creek? I remember one muskrat years ago that looked like it had a bight taken out of its side, but the teeth marks were way bigger than a muskrat. More like dog.

Blood bath?

The coolest footage I ever saw of a muskrat was on Moses’ camera. A mated pair  worked together to chase a hungry mink away from their nest. Muskrats at war, popping up out of the water all over squeaking furiously until that mink threw in the towel and swam away! It was so brave!

Of course in 8 years of observation I’ve  admittedly never seen this….

It is a disaster for any photographer when a muskrat appears on the scene. Ever alert, the muskrat will thwack its tail on the water, darting in circles of alarm, causing all nearby wildlife to flee.

What’s wrong with me? Why can’t I just enjoy a nice cheerful muskrat article without thinking the author is insane? Or mixing up species? Of course I went looking for more references to muskrats sounding the alarm by smacking their tails. Maybe they’re just lazy in Martinez? What do I know? You can guess how many other references I found to these muskrat security services. It’s a round number.

Well, I did find this one from Harper’s magazine in 1919 by Walter Pritchard Eaton called “Little folks who gnaw”. Which is also a cute article. And similarly colorful.

CaptureAnd there you have it. This clearly happened once upon a time 100 years ago, maybe her bloodthirsty muskrats are just behind the times? Rip Van Muskrat?

Or maybe I’m just wrong and missing something. It happens. Write me your own sightings of muskrat tail-thumping and set me straight? Footage would be awesome. I know beaver and muskrats learn a lot from each other.

One last complaint: who in their right mind would name this adorable baby “pickles”?

Pickles the beaver is one of many wildlife orphans who has been helped by Critter Care wildlife rehabilitation centre in South Langley. The organization holds its annual open house on Saturday and Sunday.
— image credit: Contributed photo

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.