Archive for the ‘Environmental’ Category

Dying for Information

Posted by heidi08 On August - 12 - 2014Comments Off

learning curve

254 permits to kill beavers issued from Modoc to San Joaquin counties in the last 20 months. And for what incurable crimes you ask? The vast majority weren’t for complicated levee damage or hard to protect culverts. Most were for something 2 boy scouts and a role of wire would have solved. See for yourself. Damage to vegetation is apparently the primary complaint, accounting for 36% of all permits.

CaptureMany of the permits said something like “We tried wrapping trees but it didn’t work.” Not sure why it didn’t work? But I remember the orange plastic fencing Bakersfield ‘said’ they tried over and over and can imagine.

Cautionary advice1 Apparently it’s a skill that eludes most of California. Often the officer giving the permit noted that educational pamphlets were given for ‘next time’. It didn’t specify who the instructions were given too, but I don’t think the beavers read them closely enough.

Successfully wrapping a tree is less complicated than wrapping a present or a ho ho. But here are the methods.

Note that the tree needs to be protected to the height of 3 or 4 feet – more if the snow level is going to raise them up. The tree needs to be left room to grow. And don’t use chicken wire because beavers are way bigger than chickens. The second photo uses latex paint mixed with mason sand painted directly onto the trunk. The recipe is here:

Abrasive Tree Paint Protection

Ingredients

1. Paint: Exterior Latex (choose a color to match the bark)
2. Mason Sand (30 mil or 70 mil)
3. Formula Mix 5 oz sand per quart of paint, or
4. Mix 20 oz sand per gallon of paint, or
5. Mix 140 gm sand per liter of paint.

 Make only in small batches at a time on the day you are going to apply it. Using too much sand will cause the mixture to roll off the tree. Apply paint to bottom three to four feet of tree trunk. For best results, do not paint every tree, leaving some for beaver food. This formula does not work for saplings, so protect them with wire fencing. This will need to be reapplied every couple of years, and in areas of snowfall you will need to cover for feet above the snowline.

Protect larger areas of crops or vineyards with electric wire around the area.

PROTECTING VINEYARDSOr you can just get a permit to kill them. Apparently in California it’s easy.

robin2

A Dissertation of Death

Posted by heidi08 On August - 10 - 2014Comments Off

CaptureSo yesterday morning our Napa Beaver friend RE sent me the results of her public records request from Fish and Game. She was trying to figure out if any depredation permits had been taken in Napa County, but of course that’s not the way bureaucracy works. So they gave her a pile of all the depredation permits in the state of California from 1-2013 to 8-8-2014. They are actually organized unhelpfully by the last name of the person who obtained the permit.

Robin, Jon and I spent yesterday going through the records and making a spread sheet so that we could see what was issued where, by whom, for how many beavers, and because of what problem. It was a horrible, grisly, unpleasant day, so you have to forgive me if I am more sarcastic than usual. Remember that Depredation permits can be issued for 1-2 beavers or for an unlimited number, for a few weeks or for the whole year or more. But what we learned is that the VAST majority are issued for an unlimited number of beavers to be taken during the span of an entire year. I’m putting the finished list online here by county.

Counties in CA by Number of Depredation Permits Given 1-01-13 to 8-8-14

Alpine 4
Amador 1
Butte 8
Calaveras 1
Colusa 6
Contra Costa 18
El Dorado 9
Glenn 4
Lake 2
Lassen 5
Merced 13
Modoc 6
Napa 2
Nevada 7
Placer 50
Plumas 8
Sacramento 30
San Joaquin 8
Shasta 12
Sierra County 3
Solano 7
Sonoma 3
Stanislaus 3
Sutter 13
Tehama 5
Yolo 19
Yuba 7
Total 254

Before you turn your head away in horror, pause for a moment at the staggering number of permits issued in Placer county: FIFTY in all, each for a year and only 9 of which had any limit at all to the number of beavers that could be taken. This, for a county which is only 1500 square miles – fewer than 100 of which are water.How could this be?

I have a theory.

Remember that the county seat of Placer county is Auburn, where our long standing nemesis recently gave her umpteenth presentation on how bad beavers are – I’m referring of course to Mary Tappel who long ago took time out of her busy beaver-killing schedule to come all this way to try and get Martinez to kill ours. I know she recently presented at the Salmon meeting because someone from Fish and Wildlife who was there wrote me and said in disbelief, wow, there was this woman there who was soooo negative about beavers!  And when I looked at the schedule I knew who it was. I’m thinking Mary’s done many presentations in Placer county and her icy fingers have pushed the kill permits for thousands of beavers.

August 26, SARSAS 2013, Beaver Specialist Mary Tappel, “Beaver Management in the Age of Salmonid Restoration with Focus on Beavers in Auburn Ravine”

In case your a visual person, here’s the county count. There were no permits issued for Southern California in the records we received, but the woman who released the data did say that the department is in the process of transitioning to electronic files, so some lovingly hand-written death warrants may not be included. I’m sure Fresno killed some beavers. They always do, so maybe they aren’t using computers yet?

by county

 

Wow. Since the highest number of specified beavers issued in a permit was 50, that must mean UNLIMITED is >50. So if the total number of beavers listed to be killed is added up with that change the number for just Northern CA is at least 7958.

 

 

 

Beavers in the News

Posted by heidi08 On July - 31 - 2014Comments Off

Chip Ward’s article is marching through the liberal hemisphere – now on Salon and Axis of logic.  I’m very thrilled for the promotion but I sure hope it gets picked up by a conservative website soon. We don’t want liberals to be FOR beavers. Because then of course conservatives will be AGAINST them. Let’s emphasize their money-saving, small business owner expertise and get them on National Review Online or Red State soon!

On Axis of logic the editor offered these remarks:

Editor’s Commentary:

Timber is a Canadian beaver. That might not be his real name, but it’s what we call him nonetheless – and he responds to it. Timber was orphaned and successfully raised by a friend of mine, Michele.

 It was once thought by scientists that beavers orphaned at a young age could not survive because of the intense family structure of these critters, and the fact an orphan would be shunned by other beaver families. We learned through another friend, Audrey Tournay, that this is untrue. Audrey is renowned worldwide for defying the biologists and showing that beavers can indeed survive and thrive with human nurturing.

 Timber became one of the stars of two television programs.

 I am in the process of working with Michele to write Timber’s biography and it should be ready later this year (I’m the writer, she’s the story teller – the tentative title is Beavers Never Read the Operating Manual). It will be a book aimed at encouraging young people to learn about, and develop a concern for, the environment all around them. It is not yet too late to save ourselves from ourselves, but we’ll need to engage young people to do it.

 - prh, Editor


I’ll look forward to the Timber-files soon. I loved Audrey Tournay’s
beaver tales (Audrey was the founder of the Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary where Michelle Grant worked)  and I know you did too. In the mean time, two behind the scenes reveals are that the editor PRH is actually Paul Richard Harris who is the husband of Debbie Harris who we helped with beavers in Ontario way back in 2012, (because it’s a very small beaver world and all roads lead to Martinez).

And btw his original editor’s note credited David Suzuki for the documentary and didn’t mention Jari, which I replied to. So this old comment

Timber became one of the stars of two television programs. One, here in Canada, was a David Suzuki produced program called The Beaver Whisperers. The second was produced in the United States by PBS and is called Leave It To Beavers. Go find them: they are both fascinating.

Got magically edited into this one:

One, here in Canada, was a program aired on CBC called The Beaver Whisperers. The second aired in the United States on PBS and is called Leave It To Beavers. Go find them: they are both fascinating. Both documentaries are produced by Jari Osborne.

Which is a kind of reminder that one can make a difference in this topsy turvy beaver world, if you needed one. I myself made a snippet of difference last night on channel 7, but was disappointed my “amazing” interview in the blazing sun was shortened to 15 seconds. Still, its a great plug for the festival anyway, and they snagged tuesday’s footage, gave us credit, got our name right and linked to the right page of the website so I’m very happy.

Capture

MARTINEZ, Calif. (KGO) –

The famous beaver family in Martinez is still at it and now officials say they’re actually good for the drought.

 Experts say the beaver dams are helping water stay in the creek year round, despite the drought and that’s helping preserve fish and other wildlife.

 The group “Worth A Dam” is dedicated to maintaining the beavers in Alhambra Creek.

 The president and founder of the group, Heidi Perryman, Ph.D., says, “They’re kind of doing a restoration job for the town of Martinez. They working 24/7. And they’re doing it for free.”

 A “Beaver Festival” is planned for this Saturday. It’s taking place from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Marina Vista and Alhambra Avenue in Martinez.

‘A’ Beaver festival? A? Not THE beaver festival? I guess we should be proud of the fact that there are now SO many beaver festivals in the world we don’t merit the definite article anymore.   Hrmph!

Beavers are SO cool

Posted by heidi08 On July - 30 - 20141 COMMENT

Last night was one of the best beaver nights I ever filmed. My fingers are literally aching to make a movie, but there is too much to finish before Saturday. Humor me and play the soundtrack while you watch the clips. Its practically required.


Last night we came to the secondary dam and saw a fairly large breech from the tide, the entire secondary pond was down by a few inches. The beavers were sleeping above the primary dam upstream 150 feet away from the break. I’ve seen their wake up routine a million times but I’ve never seen this.

As soon as they got up a yearling came straight down to see what the problem was, noticed a new snag exposed by water loss on the way, swam to the dam and started putting mud on the hole.

Don’t believe that beavers can remember what their pond looks like both on top of and under the water? Check out this double take.

Now Heidi, maybe you’re saying, don’t anthropomorphize this. Maybe he thought it was food. Maybe he was checking to see if was another beaver’s dam. Maybe it was a fluke.

Fluke? Here’s Dad with kit 5 minutes later.

And another double take.

(It’s funny because we have particular sticks we watch to see if the water is higher or lower, and now it really seemed like they did too! “Oh that’s exposed? We’ve really got a problem”Then Mom Dad and new kit came out of the lodge and made a bee line for the damage. Remember, in winter when all kinds of debris float downstream, we get to see beavers swim past new branches that were never there before. They are sometimes idly curious about them, or snuffle to see what’s good to eat. That’s not what was happening.They were seeing a log above water that used to be submerged.

It was never so clear to me that it’s not just running water that triggers beavers working, they obviously have some other cues, like maybe the opening to the lodge being uncovered, or the drop down from one pond to the next – they know how deep the pond should be and what and what snags belong where.

They must.

The extremely hard work paid off and the whole was quickly patched. Mom and Dad did several applications, a yearling pitched in and even our newest kits sat in the middle and pretended to help.

All of which reminded us, as if we needed to be reminded at all, that

BEAVERS ARE COOL.

Yesterday the Huffington Post, The Nation and Mother Jones decided to play our song.

The Original Geo-Engineers

 During a long career with the Bureau of Land Management, Sage Sorenson saw firsthand how beavers created rich green habitat out of overgrazed and burned-over land. Now retired, he calls himself a “beaver believer” and devotes his days to monitoring and protecting scattered “remnant” beaver colonies in our region. Quietly but persistently, he advocates for their reintroduction onto stressed landscapes that need their services.

 Beavers are the original geo-engineers. It’s no exaggeration to credit them for their major role in building the North American landscape. In pre-colonial times, there were as many as 400 million of them. They used their big buckteeth and tough paddle-tails to build dams across every stream imaginable, spreading water to a Noah’s Ark-worth of creatures that thrive in the wet habitats they create. Now, of course, they are mostly long gone from the land, and conservationists want them back.

 Go read the entire article. It’s awesome, and share with everyone you can possibly think of. Then comment so that everyone knows beavers generate attention and let’s hope Chip Ward writes me back and supports the beaver festival.

Oh, and always remember whatever happens, we loved beavers LONG before they were ‘trendy’. (Sheesh.)

Will introducing beavers onto wounded watersheds save the world? The answer is: yes. That and all the other acts of restoration, protection, and restraint, small and large, individual and collective, taken together over time. Sure, it’s not the same as the US taxing carbon or China abandoning coal. Restoring a watershed doesn’t curb the corporations that reduce communities to commodities. But in addition to the global goals we support, our responses to ecological crisis must be grounded in the places where we live, especially in the watersheds that nourish our bodies.

 Rewilding tattered land is holistic because it sees and honors connectivity. It trades hubris for humility by acknowledging complexity and limitations. Its ultimate goal is landscape health and resilience, not the well-being of a small handful of stakeholders.

 If we want to construct a healthy and resilient world for ourselves and our fellow creatures, we could do worse than look to the lowly beavers for hints on how it can be done. They build a vibrant world for themselves and so many others by weaving one small limb into another, stick by stick by stick.

 

 

A picture’s worth 1000 words…

Posted by heidi08 On July - 29 - 2014Comments Off

Capture

Aquatic life near a mine pit lake underwater beaver lodge

Steve Kohl

Brainerd Dispatch staff phtographer (and diver) Steve Kohls filmed the aquatic life near a mine pit lake underwater beaver lodge. See suspended sunfish, thousands of minnow and lurking bass all hanging out in their aquatic underworld.

The powers that be will not let me embed that video, so click on the picture and go see it yourself. Honestly, it’s worth it. Just look at the biodiversity of life near that beaver lodge, and remember the amount of mud and soil beavers excavate to maintain a lodge or access a food cache in winter. Beaver digging makes diverse invertebrate communities which make divers FISH communities.

Now remember that this is the Cuyuna Mine Pit lake in Minnesota. Cuyuna was a mine dedicated to excavation of iron ore which like most mines has all kinds of pollution fallout – including something charmingly called “acid mine drainage”. Could Cuyuna do anything better to restore those damaged pits? I think not. Thank you Steve Kohl, for this great proof of beaver biodiversity!

Castor Anglicus took my advice and set Adrian’ Forester’s recording to photos. Love the headlines and the awesome images.  I’m wishing it had some video and slicker editing, but I’m very picky and the news stations should leap at this.

Speaking of news, yesterday I met with ABC channel 7 down at the dam to talk about beaver, water, and drought – as well as plug the festival. It was one of those fun interviews where the interviewer started out disinterested and nonplussed by his assignment, and ended up eager and fascinated, running up and down the creek photographing birds, talking to onlookers, and asking for a bumper sticker.

I hope his conversion means there will be a nice segment on prime news, but you never know. He kept shaking his head and saying “You’re amazing on camera! You answered every question so succinctly!”Which made me smile a little and think of the old Paula Poundstone line….

“Last night’s show was an amazing crowd. I did an hour and a half. I could have done more, but the club had really bad security and a lot of the audience got away”.

I’ll let you know when it’s airs. Hopefully Thursday.

Oh, and in the mean time you need to see this. Honestly. You. Just. Do.

 Public Works: The Amazing Self-Powered Garbage-Trapping Machine

Meet the trash-collecting contraption that’s cleaning up Baltimore’s harbour.

 

 Invented by Clearwater Mills LLC, the Interceptor floats at the mouth of the Jones Falls river, through which garbage used to flow into the inner harbour. Now booms (floating barriers) direct debris towards the 4.3-metre-tall garbage collection machine. Spring-charged rakes claw the refuse onto a conveyor belt, which is powered by a water wheel spun by solar-powered pump. The belt carts the garbage into a dumpster, which, once full, is dragged by boat to a waste-to-energy conversion plant.

How awesome would this be at the Marina? Some adaptions would let it run on tides twice a day. Shell could pay for it, New Leaf Academy could promote and maintain it, and Martinez could be the east coast premier of another dam good idea.

Every day, from here to there, Beaver things are everywhere.

Posted by heidi08 On July - 24 - 2014Comments Off

There is glorious news this morning, but before we appreciate its warm glow we need to pay attention to this bit of horrific gristle from Calgary. Mind you this is about 300 miles south of renown beaver researcher Dr. Glynnis Hood, 400 miles west of experienced flow device-installer Adrien Nelson and Fur-Bearer Defenders, and 500 miles north of beaver management expert Amy Chadwick of Montana. Calgary is surrounded by intelligence, but it apparently just isn’t sinking in.

Animal lover furious after beaver found trapped in Calgary park

CALGARY- An animal lover who came across a disturbing scene in a popular park has gone straight to the city to complain.

 Linda Lelonde says she and her husband were walking in Fish Creek Park on Tuesday evening, when they came across a beaver struggling in a trap.

 “I just happened to see the beaver laying in the grass in the ditch, and I said to my husband ‘something’s wrong, his tail is flapping.’”

 A jogger happened to come by moments later, and that’s when they realized the animal was in trouble.

 “[He] came up and was horrified, and told us [the beaver] was biting off his leg and was basically bleeding to death,” Lalonde remembers.

It’s not known if the beaver survived, as it was not in the trap when city workers showed up to collect it.

Why are city workers checking the trap anyway? Isn’t that the trappers job? Are you saying the city workers set the trap? That’s a horrifying thought. No offense, but I would have night mares if someone gave public works in Martinez a conibear. Are there any trapping regulations in Alberta at all? The article goes on to say that the beaver was blocking the culvert and baby strollers could have been blocked on the path if they didn’t do something. No, they didn’t think of installing a culvert protection fence, why do you ask?

The good news is that it was a sufficiently horrifying demonstration of trapping that folks are upset and there are many comments and a lot of interest in alternatives with the article. Keep at it Calgary. You’ll get there if enough people worry about their pets to push for change. And when your ready to change, we’ll help you get started.

Speaking of which, this new film of Urban Beavers was made by Daniel Pinker, Americorp intern for the Gresham Department of Environmental Services, just east of Portland. danielsDaniel wrote me a while ago asking if I might be willing to share footage of urban beavers for a film he was working on about beavers in cities. I’m sure you can guess what I answered.


This is an excellent place for my footage to be, but I had to fight waves of territorial reflex when I first watched it, especially dad coming over the primary with kit, and the tiny kit glimpsed in 2012. (They were such emotional moments after mom died!)

But it’s impossible (even for me) not to share with such an enormously pro-beaver message. This is really effective work. I only wish the film specifically said “Cities can live with beavers, in fact all the images you are watching happen to be  from one smart city that DID”.  I want this played at every city council meeting along the pacific states. And Daniel was very nice to add this.
more creditIt’s 1,274 miles from Calgary to Martinez. But you spanned the distance  this morning with a few short sentences.

Beaver Countdown

Posted by heidi08 On July - 22 - 2014Comments Off

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

 Caitlin Hofmeister
SciShow Producer
caitlin@thescishow.com

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.”