Archive for the ‘Environmental’ Category

Wyoming Wonders

Posted by heidi08 On July - 22 - 2017ADD COMMENTS

Whew! Things are back to normal. The solar unit needs insurance, I woke up at 4 and my email has completely stopped working. That seems more like it. While I try and manage radio silence if you need to reach me try this. Mean while there’s still plenty to talk about.

CaptureStarting with our friends Wyominguntrapped. They have some pretty heavy hitters as partners, including the Forest Service.  The beaver awareness project website was launched yesterday and looks awesome. The program director said yesterday that her dream was to have their own beaver festival one day.:-)

Following several meetings between the Forest Service and Wyoming Untrapped in which the benefits that beavers have to the forest were a topic, an idea was formed that would bring together many community partners and would help to reestablish populations of beavers on National Forest Service land.

There is a lack of tolerance for beavers as well as a lack of public awareness of the benefits that beavers provide ecologically. Beavers are an integral keystone species that gets little attention by wildlife managers but have substantial, positive impacts to the ecosystem. Increasing knowledge and a love of beavers in children will increase the understanding of this unique species which will lead to a growth in tolerance and co-existence with this valuable, beneficial species. Students will gain scientific knowledge about hydrology, ecology, biology, and engineering using hands-on solutions to real-world problems. Students will gain knowledge of careers by meeting members of the community to whom they are rarely exposed.

Go to their website and check it out, but there are a few special treasures I want to focus on today. In addition to our lovely poster and links to this site they have some fantastic footage by Filmmaker Jeff Hogan. If his name sounds familiar it should because every single PBS or BBC documentary you have seen of the region uses his work. And with good reason. This footage complete took me by surprise.

I’ve been doing this every morning since Bush was president. I’ve watched 25 beavers grow up and 5 beavers die and seen things I never expected time and time again. But this blew me away. Seriously. Watch it.


Beaver ignorance never really goes out of style!

Posted by heidi08 On July - 17 - 20172 COMMENTS

Oh good! Smart people are still being head-smackingly stupid about beavers! Thank goodness! I thought I was out of a job for a while there. It’s good to know our services are still needed.

Let’s start where we always start, shall we? In Saskatchewan.

Meewasin starts work on trail through the Northeast Swale

Work began Thursday on building a 2.2-kilometre trail network through the swale that is intended to both accommodate those who want to enjoy the area just north of the Silverspring and Evergreen neighbourhoods and discourage those who misuse the area.

The trail system will include six nodes that will feature benches, garbage cans and interpretive panels. The trail is being built along a three-metre-wide swath that has already been disturbed by human activity. “What we’re trying to create here is an access to the swale, which has significant ecological value,” Otterbein said in an interview at the swale Friday.

A beaver has built a home in the wet pond and some endangered northern leopard frogs have also been spotted in the pond, Otterbein said. Meewasin also plans to install wildlife-friendly fencing along the swale’s edge next to the developing Aspen Ridge neighbourhood.

I’m told a ‘swale’ is a marshy or hollow place between ridges. I couldn’t tell when I read this article whether they were thinking about protecting the sensitive frogs from the beavers or protecting the neibourhood from the beavers, but I’m sure curious what “wildlife-friendly fencing” looks like in Saskatchewan, where they actually had a beaver kill contest just last year.

I’m guessing that they were heavily informed by the thoughtful outdoor chronicle “Mountain men” which profiles a forlorn trapper who can’t kill many beavers because there’s not enough WATER. No kidding.

Lack of water gives Tom beaver problems on Mountain Men

This week on Mountain Men, Tom is having trouble with his beaver traps due to a lack of water.

Beavers are creatures of habit and the key to success when trapping them is usually the location. Traps can be set along the beaver dam, where they tend to run across the path over the dam often. You can also place one between two ponds the beavers are using or any path they use frequently.

The lack water means that not only can Tom not get his boat into the traps, but the traps are also exposed and any twigs covering them are now gone. This makes it highly unlikely he’s going to have any luck whilst the water levels are so low.The lack water means that not only can Tom not get his boat into the traps, but the traps are also exposed and any twigs covering them are now gone. This makes it highly unlikely he’s going to have any luck whilst the water levels are so low.

Ohh no! Poor Tom! Not only is the water level too low to trap beavers but the unfortunate man is too frickin stupid to live! Saying the water level is too low to catch beavers is like saying there’s no time to gain weight because you’re too busy eating, or your prisons are too empty because the city has too many police, or the federal government is working so hard we can’t afford health care.

Here, Tom, I have an idea. Stop killing beavers for a nanosecond. Let them make their dams and raise the water level and recharge the aquifer, and then you’ll be able to trap lots of things that live IN the water, like otter and mink and things that drink the water like moose and fox, and the beaver will save your sons!  Buy them each a copy of this novel, will you? And then we’ll talk.


More grrs for Vermont where they have been struggling mightily to justify extending the otter trapping season for another month, and foolishly agreed to listen to the public on the issue. They have been getting millions of emails from folks who say angrily that “otters are innocent” and they shouldn’t be killed for their fur.

Obviously beavers are NOT innocent, that goes without saying, and their trapping season lasts a month longer so it’s woefully inconvenient for trappers to have to modify their beaver killing machines so that otters pass through safely and for wardens to actually check and see the difference. The easier adjustment would be to make the seasons the same – plus you can depredate beaver any ole time of year if they’re causing a problem.

Note no one is suggesting LOWERING the beaver trapping season to make them the same and save on paperwork. I  wonder why?

A Vermont legislative committee has postponed a decision on a proposal to lengthen the otter trapping season. This postponement, voted on last week, adds another chapter to a long and vigorous public debate.

“It’s a highly contentious issue,” said Brenna Galdenzi, president and founder of animal advocacy group Protect Our Wildlife. In a phone interview following the hearing, she said, “Whenever there’s an issue of trapping, it really gets people active and speaking out. It really gets people going.”

“We’ve received hundreds and hundreds of emails,” Catherine Gjessing, general counsel for the state Fish and Wildlife Department, said in a phone interview. The department provides staffing and scientific recommendations to the Fish and Wildlife Board when it considers changing hunting, fishing or trapping regulations.

 Kimberly Royar, a state furbearer biologist, said that public sentiment toward trapping sometimes focuses on sympathy with individual animals at the expense of considering how best to manage an entire species.

Beaver and otter are caught using the same traps, but otter season ends at the end of February and beaver season ends March 31. This means trappers going after beaver in March are required to modify the trigger mechanisms in their traps to allow otter to pass through unscathed.

Gjessing and Royar identified two primary reasons the department supports P-1704, both related to different end dates of the otter and beaver seasons. First, they said the department has heard reports from trappers that the modified traps used in March sometimes simply pin beaver until they drown instead of breaking their necks, leading to inhumane kills. Extending otter season would remove the requirement that trappers use the modified trigger mechanism.

“It’s not a matter of increasing the otter take,” Royar said. “It’s allowing trappers to utilize the otter that are taken during that expanded beaver season. That’s really the goal of this.”

Oh, those tender-hearted trappers! Did you catch they are ONLY asking for that extra month for the poor beavers who drown to death in the modified traps. Goodness those trappers are sensitive souls, (and if you wonder how sensitive go read the comment section of the article).

As I said, no one minds about killing beavers, but if we could just change the rules about how often we can kill otters we can reduce the suffering of those poor pests. Because otters are INNOCENT!


Beaver Centerfold

Posted by heidi08 On July - 15 - 2017Comments Off on Beaver Centerfold

Yesterday the bookmarks arrived and they are every BIT as cute as you might imagine. Jon ran some over to our buddies at Parks and Recreation and the oohed and passed them around with glee. Yesterday was also very exciting because I suddenly realized I didn’t have the contract for the solar panel, and fell into a state of panic that I hadn’t ordered it this year. What if all the bands were lined up and the sound guy was there and there was NO SOUND! I called them in alarm only to find out that every single representative was at a big meeting and they would call me on monday. I must have sounded so truly forlorn that they made Ryan call me back from the meeting – which I found out was IN HAWAII by the way – YES they would help me, not a problem, but please let the man go back to his hawaii meeting so he can spend the last part of his last weekend at the beach.


Good lord. That was close. I know I spoke to someone about something way back in March, but I also know nothing is firm without a contract and they need us to show our event insurance will cover their panel and these things take time. Three weeks should do it. So that’s good.

Meanwhile our friend Kent Woodruff at Methow was being rewarded by a lovely, slick magazine profile in the outdoor clothing store of Filson’s. Even though the head quarters is in Seattle they have a store in San Francisco so I have NO idea why they aren’t donating to the beaver festival, but good for Ken (again), it’s still lovely to share.

Region 6: Planting Beavers, Raising Waters

Beaver ponds store a lot of water. Millions of gallons. And scientists are now realizing that reintroducing the animals to struggling streams is a way to buck a drying trend. This Filson Life is part of Filson’s celebration of the Forest Service and the people of the Pacific Northwest Region of the USFS, Region 6. 
As the Northwest gets less snow, Kent Woodruff says it needs more beavers.

Less snow means less rainfall. Less rainfall means less water for farms and streams – which leads to a decrease in spawning ground and shelter for salmon. Beavers dam streams and streams flood their floodplains, which produces more trees for more dams and provides millions of gallons of water for everything in the vicinity. It even provides shade for salmon.

“One of the things we know is that beavers improve streams,” says Woodruff, a beaver biologist with the Forest Service. “Beavers make things better by adding complexity to streams to enhance everything that needs to happen out there.”

For the past ten years Woodruff has been the driving force behind the Methow Beaver Project, a partnership that relocates problem beavers – those that have dammed up irrigation ditches or felled high-value fruit trees – from private land to mountain streams in the National Forest surrounding Central Washington’s Methow Valley.

“We’re in a very water-limited situation in the Methow Valley,” he says. “So we do this balancing act between the towns, the rural folks, the agriculturalists, and the fish. To find a natural solution in beavers for water storage and temperature moderation, which are critical limiting factors to endangered salmon, is really exciting to what we do.”

After trapping a problem beaver, Woodruff temporarily keeps it at an old fish hatchery that he’s set up with beaver homes. He’s found that relocating beavers is best done with male-female pairs, and he waits until he traps a beaver of the opposite sex before pairing the two at the fish hatchery. He then transplants the pair—with a bundle of sticks and willow switches they’ve been chewing at the hatchery—to a suitable, beaver-free stream in the forest.

“We’ve found that a male-female pair is a lot more sticky than just a lone beaver,” he says. “Two of them are more likely to stay where we put them than just one.”

Half a dozen universities are making plans to use his beaver restoration work as laboratories to answer questions about the role of wetlands in the larger ecosystem. How much carbon does a large beaver complex store? How do beaver ponds contribute to the insect life of a river? How many gallons of water are stored in the spongy soil surrounding a wetland? Interns, graduate students, and Ph.D. candidates from colleges and universities around the Northwest will show up in the Methow Valley this summer to work toward answering those questions.

Woodruff and Johnson estimate that their pro-beaver message reached 2.8 million people in 2015. The benefits of beavers, Woodruff says, are becoming more widely recognized. Biologists in Canada, Mexico, and Europe are interested in the work coming out of the Methow Valley and elsewhere around the region.

“California is very interested in modernizing its approach to beavers,” Woodruff says.

“Washington state is beginning to take similar steps. We’re talking to people in Britain where beavers have been extinct for 600 years, and now in the past ten years they have them in five different places. Idaho has a fledgling relocation program, too. It feels to me like we are just getting started learning where beavers could help.”

Nice review! Wonderful to see beaver benefits emphasized. This is a rugged outdoor clothing profile so they chose the strapping young Ph.D. candidate for the photo, which is foolish because Ken’s very handsome and there are way more mature shoppers than young ones, but never mind. It’s a nice spread with a good focus on salmon and water and I’m very grateful about that. Of course I’m very impatient with ANY article that mentions problem beavers without talking about beaver solutions.

But still.

I confess I was alarmed reading that in 2015 reached their message reached 2.8 million people, because how on earth is that even possible? This meager website gets 10,000 hits a week, and over 10 years that’s maybe 1 million, but how are they so much more visible than we are? What’s WRONG with us?  But then I though they maybe meant through Sarah’s great film, which was wonderful and really allowed a lot of people very quickly to learn the story of why beavers matter.  And they have more supporting players (NGO’s and GO’s) than god. And plus, people are always happier thinking they’re doing good for the environment when they get rid of beavers than when someone tells them to keep them.

But I admit it. I had beaver envy.