Archive for the ‘Educational’ Category

Baffled Beavers!

Posted by heidi08 On August - 22 - 2014ADD COMMENTS

Thomas Tamayne, Stephen Sangle, and Gary Oppenheimer (l to r) investigate the beaver pond that is flooding the wetland at West Milford’s Mary Haase-Roger Daugherty Environmental Center. The members of West Milford’s Environmental Commission plan to install a beaver-proof device to drain the wetland back to normal levels.

West Milford Environmental Commission has new weapon for beaver battle

The local Environmental Commission is employing a new weapon in its battle with the environmental boardwalk’s beavers.

Called a beaver baffle, the device being prepared for installation by the West Milford commission at the Mary Haase-Roger Daugherty Environmental Center near Maple Road School is designed to act as tap on the backside of the beaver dam. Once operational, it should lower the water level in the dammed wetland enough to make it unsuitable for beavers, forcing the current residents to relocate, and protecting the recently-renovated boardwalk from further damage, according to commission Chairman Stephen Sangle.

“It looks promising and maybe one or two more days of work should finish the project,” Sangle said Sunday.

Last weekend, commission members set the project’s groundwork by scouting the area to find a suitable place for the upstream end of a pipe that will serve as the tap. The spot has to be deep enough and large enough to contain a trapezoid-shaped cage made out of epoxy-coated mesh that will prevent beavers from clogging the pipe, Sangle said.

 Let’s hope the reporter got this wrong. They sometimes assume the point of installation is to make beavers move. Why else would anyone bother? But you and I know that if the beavers did move, the conservation commission would have wasted its time and money. The idea is that you compromise and the beavers stay and keep others from moving in and doing it all again.

I thought it was funny they described installing a beaver ‘baffle’ – and wondered if this had anything to do with the Unexpected Wildlife Refuge just 3 hrs away, also in New Jersey. Or whether they were just using the term ‘baffle’ generically, like ‘deceiver’ which they also use. The baffle isn’t often employed. But here’s an interesting project I found on beaver bafflers I think is a few years old. The video will show you how they work – or rather how they don’t work actually, because I think that tiny cage is never going to prevent beavers from feeling suction and they will quickly cover the entire thing with mud.  Just watch the video to see all about the Vermont cooperative beaver baffle project. Capture

Beaver Baffles

From Outdoor Journal Vermont PBS

When it comes to making things out of wood no animal is more persistent and more proficient than the beaver. Beaver dams provide valuable wet land habitat for several species of fish and wildlife. But these same dams can cause a lot of damage to roads and septic systems. In this segment, we look at a unique project called the “Cooperative Beaver Baffle Demonstration Project” that uses water control structures to properly manage beaver dam water levels.

Good luck with that.Oh and just in case you don’t believe beavers could mud that entire cage around the perforated pipe, here’s what one did to Mike Callahan’s single intake once.

plugged filter

6 foot filter entirely plugged with mud.Photo – Mike Callahan Beaver Solutions

Catching a tiger by the tail

Posted by heidi08 On August - 14 - 20142 COMMENTS

Ranchers’ Friend and Farmers’ Foe: Reshaping Nature with Beaver Reintroduction in California

Steven M. Fountain

The twentieth-century project to restore animals to their former ranges often relied on the common support of sportsmen’s groups, wildlife managers, and biologists. Beavers were common but controversial subjects of early reintroduction programs throughout the North American West. In California,rapidly expanding industrial agriculture created a particularly intense conflict over the fate of remaining beaver habitat. Advocates turned to higher elevation ranch lands to relocate problem beavers, emphasizing the economic benefits of raising water tables and reclaiming the potential resource repositories of the foothills and mountains. These habitat extensions were a novel means of commoditizing an animal whose status shifted from harmful to beneficial depending on location and situation.

Reading the title and the abstract don’t you feel almost hopeful? Finally an intelligent article that discusses beaver relocation in California and their potential value! But reading through you see that he based his review on where beavers belong entirely on Grinell and Tappe’s 1930 report. Which as you know, says beaver weren’t in the Sierras because the mountains were too pointy.

Unsuitable riparian vegetation, rocky banks, and steep fast-flowing streams combined to keep beaver largely confined to the lowlands that have been their range for millennia.

Never mind about the beaver in the Rocky’s. And never mind about beavers loving Aspen. Oh, and never mind about that paper published in 2012 by Lanman et al, because he mentions in a footnote:

Richard B. Lanman, Heidi Perryman, Brock Dolman, and Charles D. James, “The Historic Range of Beaver in the Sierra Nevada: A Review of the Evidence,” California Fish and Game 98, no. 2 (2012): 65–80, also misreads several historical documents.

We misread? Who knew? Obviously we did it wrong, (as in we wore our THINKING caps rather than our FAITH caps). Sheesh. The author has slightly more interest in the carbon dated beaver dam, but he’s willing to ignore the fossil record too.

Far more convincing is Charles D. James and Richard B. Lanman, “Novel Physical Evidence That Beaver Historically Were Native to the Sierra Nevada,” California Fish and Game 98, no. 2 (2012): 129–32, which discusses pre–Gold Rush beaver dam remains on upper Feather River tributaries.

Never you mind about carbon half-lives. He has a point to make. In fact it’s so unimportant to his thesis he doesn’t even bother discussing it in his precious paper. Our work issn’t important enough to challenge or actually point out problems. He won’t bother to argue. Dismissing it only requires a footnote.

The outrage of having our years of work marginalized to a footnote got all our attention, but I am happiest that it got Dr. Lanman’s because he put on his most medical-researchy  tone and went straight for the author. I can’t think of a single better person to politely challenge his ruthlessly irresponsible bullshit.

I’m easy to insult but it’s probably not every day that Rick gets accused of ‘misreading’. I’ll keep you posted on what happens.   This is the picture that springs to mind.

I guess this means we are officially at the second part of Gandhi’s stages of opposition. I hope I packed enough trail mix.

First they ignore you.
Then they laugh at you.
Then they fight with you.
Then you win.

Appreciations

Posted by heidi08 On August - 6 - 2014Comments Off

It’s been a week of treasures and it’s only Wednesday. Yesterday I received this email from a family we met at the dam two weeks ago. They were from Long Beach and eager to see the famous Martinez beavers. Of course our mascots did not disappoint. Since our visitors were so delighted with the show I suggested they might write the mayor and let them know how pleased they were.

Yesterday Michelle sent  the  entire city council this:

Dear Mr Mayor,

My name is Michelle Lee and I live in Southern California with my family. We’ve done a couple of great American Road Trips in the last twenty years, but this year, we were privileged to witness one of the most emblemic of all Northern American wildlife: the hardworking, family-oriented and stoical Martinez Beaver.

Prior to setting out on our trip this summer, a few weeks ago, we had only ever seen American beavers on film in movies. There is apparently one homed in the Singapore River Safari theme park, but knowing beavers to be highly social animals, we were disappointed but not surprised when we failed to spot it in its enclosure during our visit last year. Imagine how thrilled we were, then, to discover, while researching for our summer trip, http://www.martinezbeavers.org, the Worth a Dam web site put up by Heidi Perryman. We have beavers, thriving in their natural environment, right here, in our own backyard!

Martinez was immediately included on our itinerary. Your location was perfect, for us visiting college towns like Stanford, Berkeley and Davis. You have one of the best Thai restaurants in all of California, north through south: the Lemongrass Bistro. Muir Lodge, which provided us with a most tastefully decorated and comfortable room, was just what we needed for our layover. Sal’s Family Kitchen was the perfect breakfast wake-up in the morning.

And you have the beavers. And they were wonderful. We waited at the secondary dam right by the Amtrak station on 14 July 2014, around 6:30pm, and managed to see three beavers, including the kit. Not knowing as much as we could about the habits of these nocturnal mammals, though, we were pretty bummed we didn’t stay till 8 :-( That said, the beavers we saw kept us entranced for a good hour or so, just swimming about, nibbling in the rushes, doing generally beaverly things.

Now that we’re home, and able to more fully process our summer vacation, which included visits to the Carlsbad Caverns and the Grand Canyon, we can honestly count the Martinez Beavers as one of our most satisfying wildlife experiences. We in Southern California are used to the arid desert, even in this ongoing drought, with our well-watered landscaped city and suburban lawns, so it was quite distressing to see how devastated the land around us was while driving through NorCal. Those tenacious beavers, as corny as it sounds, gave us hope that this drought will eventually pass. Our only regret was we were not able to spend longer in your lovely town than one night. Now, our true regret is having missed this year’s Beaver Festival!

The fact that Martinez has a Beaver Festival indicates that many people do share our fascination with these enchanting animals. However, we were a little surprised, that, of the people we talked to in town, only one person was able to point us in the right direction to the beaver dams, because you have a real treasure in the beavers, and in Worth a Dam. This is such a unique situation you have in Martinez that people are able to observe outside of the artificial and expensive set up of a zoo. We are hopeful that continued education and increased appreciation for the Martinez Beavers will be encouraged to perpetuate and grow. We cannot thank Worth a Dam enough for their information-packed web site. We came from Long Beach just to see this happy beaver family!!

Thanks for taking the time to read this!
Michelle Lee, with Kevin Traster and Loyalty Traster-Lee
Long Beach, California
5 August 2014

Now tell me that wasn’t the best letter you EVER read! Not only did it remind the mayor that the beavers and Worth A Dam are an asset, it must have made those little dollar signs appear in his eyes like on cartoons. She did such a good job that I told her to share it with the local papers so I’m hoping we see it again very soon.

The only part that kind of bugged me was that only one person in town could tell her where the dam was. But when I thought about it I realized that’s actually wonderful. In 2007 when every shop owner on main street was terrified of being flooded every, Susie, Stacey or Sam could have told them. Now the fact that the story isn’t news anymore means that the beavers are no longer a threat and that’s just what we wanted to happen. I thought of Carl Sandburg,

 Pile the bodies high at Austerlitz and Waterloo.
Shovel them under and let me work—
I am the grass; I cover all.
 
 And pile them high at Gettysburg
And pile them high at Ypres and Verdun.
Shovel them under and let me work.
Two years, ten years, and passengers ask the conductor:
What place is this?
Where are we now?
 
I am the grass.
Let me work.

Carl Sandburg

Well, I suppose the grass has worked in Martinez. Even I can barely remember the injuries of a city who wanted to destroy its treasures. Now I simply bask in the glow of a job well done and a chapter well written.

And this delightful epilogue about “Joe” made me smile.

Martinez Beaver Festival celebrates beaver family living in downtown creek since 2006

Dam fun

 Children parade to the strains of Bruce Maxwell’s bagpipe, above, at the start of the seventh annual Beaver Festival on Saturday, in Martinez, that celebrates the beaver family that has been living in Alhambra Creek since 2006. The event, sponsored by Worth A Dam, attracted visitors from everywhere for activities, music and tours of the beavers’ environment by Joe Ridler, right center.

 They don’t show the photo on line, but something tells me I’ve seen Joe before.

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.

 

 

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.”

 

 

 

 

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, adecicco@goldengateaudubon.org

 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 goldengateaudubon.org/kidsbirdwalks.

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.