Archive for the ‘Educational’ Category

Guardian Beavers

Posted by heidi08 On September - 17 - 2017ADD COMMENTS

Time for some UK praise of beaver gifts. I’ll be so wistful when they finally make the right decision. It’s wonderful to see articles like this in the Guardian.

Meet the latest recruit to the UK flood defence team: the beaver

Beavers could be put to work building dams to stop a village from flooding in the Forest of Dean, in what would be the first such scheme on government land.

The Forestry Commission has been an enthusiastic advocate for the release of a family of beavers into a large fenced area surrounding Greathough brook above the village of Lydbrook, on land owned by the commission.

Experts predict that the beavers will rapidly create dams, canals and ponds, slowing the stream’s flow and potentially holding back 6,000 cubic metres of water to prevent huge floods inundating Lydbrook, a village that suffered badly from flooding in 2012.

Villagers are mostly supportive, hoping the scheme will not only protect the village but boost local wildlife and tourism. “It’s a brilliant idea,” said Stuart Aken. “There were about 100 people in the village hall when they made the announcement and there wasn’t a single dissenting voice. People are in favour because of the potential to help against flooding and most are interested in the increase in wildlife that it will bring to the area.”

Everyone seems excited about the day, what’s the hold up?

But despite the beaver scheme not costing the taxpayer a penny – it would be funded by landfill taxes – it was abruptly postponed last month. A source close to the project said it had been blocked by a minister in the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs – and the Forestry Commission was “hopping mad”.

A spokesperson for Defra denied that the scheme had been blocked by a government minister and said that the Forestry Commission would announce the next steps in the coming weeks.

Derek Gow, a beaver expert who has worked on reintroductions in Scotland and England, said: “This is a tremendous opportunity. The science suggests these animals will hold back 6,000 cubic metres of water.

“This has the potential to prevent a once-in-30-years flood event. These animals will also open the forest canopy to light and create a biodiversity jewel in this forest.

 This “natural” flood defence works only in small streams in upland areas. In deeper rivers, beavers do not need to rapidly create dams. In lowland areas, beaver activity can also cause flooding.

But those in favour of their reintroduction to England and Wales say beavers can be returned to western river systems and will not spread to low-lying eastern areas, such as the Fens, where their activity could cause valuable agricultural land to flood.

Ahhh what a fine article! Where to begin? You have such great beaver advocates in the UK. But did someone really say that beavers would not spread and populate themselves into low-lying areas? I hate to break it to you but (ahem) beavers are very good at finding their way into new territory. It’s what they do. Their raison d’être , so to speak. I just don’t think it’s a great idea to tuck in the unsuspecting British population with cozy dreams of beavers who always stay where you put them. I agree about flooding. And I agree 100% with the lovely statement that “they’ll make a biodiversity jewel in the forest”.

But I wouldn’t say they won’t relocate. Never make promises beavers can’t keep.

I’m sure whoever said that it wasn’t Derek Gow, who is as fine an advocate as beavers could ever hope for. Looks like he’s giving a talk soon to spread the beaver gospel even farther.

Cheshire Wildlife Trust to stage beaver talk at Bickley Hall Farm

National beaver expert Derek Gow will be in Cheshire to give a talk on the how the animal’s re-introduction could impact the countryside. Cheshire Wildlife Trust is hosting the one-off talk at its headquarters at Bickley Hall Farm, between Malpas and Nantwich.

Several reintroductions of beavers are now either underway or being researched across the UK including in Scotland, Dorset and Wales.

A growing body of evidence suggests beavers have a key role to play in restoring nature in our countryside. They are a native species, which was hunted to extinction in the UK 400 years ago. They are a keystone wetland species, known for their dam building and tree-felling activity. This not only creates their home, but also provides the ideal habitat for many other plant and animal species and can play a role in flood prevention.

Derek Gow is at the forefront of beaver re-introduction and will be joining us to tell the story of the beaver comeback in the UK, sharing his experiences of the projects he has worked on along the way. His talk ‘The Return of the Beaver to the UK’ will be held at 7.30pm on Thursday September 28 at Bickley Hall Farm, Malpas, Cheshire, SY14 8EF.

Don’t you wish you could be there? I sure do! Derek is as fine a spokesmen as beavers could ask for and I know they have ever confidence in his work. Why just yesterday I found an awesome wetland illustration and was confused by one creature in the bottom right hand corner. He clarified helpfully that it was a water vole, and very common in England. Oh, and of course you know he came to Martinez after the beaver conference right? Because it turns out we are a kind of beaver Mecca too.

do wetlands matter

Friendly protection

Posted by heidi08 On September - 15 - 2017Comments Off on Friendly protection

camilaHere’s two very nice ways to get a jump start on the weekend. The first is news that our good friend Camilla Fox of Project Coyote is now working with the Center for Biological Diversity to sue Fish and Game. Here she is with a volunteer working at the beaver festival in 2012. We always like days that start out like this.

State wildlife agencies sued over commercial trapping program

Two national nonprofit advocacy groups sued the California Fish and Game Commission and the state Department of Fish and Wildlife this week, claiming the two agencies have improperly managed and illegally subsidized the state’s commercial trapping program.

The Center for Biological Diversity and Project Coyote claim thousands of coyotes, foxes, badgers and other fur-bearing animals are trapped in California every year so their pelts can be sold overseas.

The advocate groups claim in their lawsuit that the California Fish and Game Commission and state Department of Fish and Wildlife have illegally diverted up to $500,000 since 2013 to subsidize commercial fur trapping in the Golden State.

The California Fish and Game Commission and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife are two separate entities. Established in 1870, the California Fish and Game Commission is billed as the first and oldest wildlife conservation agency in the United States, predating even the U.S. Commission of Fish and Fisheries.

I didn’t even know that there was a State Fish and Game Commission. They are the folks at the county level that gave us our grant last year. In fact they’re hosting a bbq this weekend that Cheryl is attending to show off what we did with their money. I can’t tell from the article how they’re saying the agencies subsidized trapping but I’m very interested in this idea. Wait, there’s a clearer article in the LA Times yesterday. They say the taxpayers end up subsidizing because the fees for trapping licences are so low. They’re saying if they charged trappers what it actually cost the system, the fur trade would die in California. Hmmm that’s interesting.

Lawsuit aims to end commercial fur trapping in California

“We hope the filing of this lawsuit will be remembered as the moment California said goodbye to the handful of people who still kill mammals so that their pelts can be auctioned off in foreign markets and then made into slippers and fur-trimmed coats,” she said.

It may be unpopular, but I’m not going to invest a lot of energy in fur trapping. That is not the cause of the overwhelming number of beaver deaths. Depredation is the BIG killer in California. I would spend money suing the the state over that.

(I’m having a fantasy right now about what it would be like to have enough money to sue CDFG in a drought year after counting all the beaver depredation permits and calculating how much water they would have saved if they had been allowed to live!)

Of course my favorite lawsuit against CDFG involved beavers, was won at the appellate level and happened 18 years ago with our friend Mitch Wagoner in Riverside county. Ahh Memories!

Meet the Baby Beavers, Squirrels and Ducklings Saved During Harvey

The second treat to start the weekend is this from the Wildlife Center of Texas, who has its share of rescues after hurricane Harvey. The article is definite eye candy and you should check it out, but I thought this was particularly wonderful.

The good volunteers at WCT are working hard at the moment so go here to donate.

beaver-duo

Kits dislocated by Hurricane Harvey: Wildlife Center of Texas

Sticking Place

Posted by heidi08 On September - 14 - 2017Comments Off on Sticking Place

Lovely letter this morning from Caitlin Adair of Vermont about how property owners can help save water and mitigate storm damage. When I looked her up I saw that she was friend and neighbor of Patti Smith, which makes a lot of sense. (Patti is the wonderful artist and writer behind ‘the beavers of popple’s pond.) Caitlin’s letter is full of great suggestions that you should read and implement, but obviously the last one is my favorite.

Individuals can help make area more flood-resistant

What can we do, as individuals, to turn all the rain that a big storm brings into an asset rather than a disaster? You can look at your property or backyard and see what you might do to stop or slow the flow of water into nearby rivers. A few sandbags placed along a natural pathway for water runoff could prevent erosion and slow flooding. A more permanent solution might include building earth berms in these places or directing roof or driveway runoff into a rain garden.

Finally, beaver dams and beaver ponds also help rainwater to stay where it falls, soak in slowly, and restore aquifers. Beavers are the original wetlands engineers. Let’s support their work for the benefit of all.

Well said, Caitlin! And a great time to say it when folks are thinking about the effect of storms. From now on you are officially a friend of Worth A Dam.


Yesterday I was asked by Michael Howie of Fur Bearer Defenders to do a webinar presentation of our story for their Compassionate Conservation Week at the end of next month.

This unique event replaced our traditional Living With Wildlife conference by utilizing webinar technology that can bring together speakers from around the world, with audiences from around the world. Anyone with a computer and an internet connection can attend or participate as a speaker (though speakers will need a microphone, which is quite inexpensive). Each day we will showcase two to three webinars from a variety of speakers, all of which help wildlife advocates, researchers, students, and animal lovers get their communities on track with the concept of compassionate conservation.

We talked about my doing it last year but the timing was a problem. This year things look better so I agreed. I haven’t done a powerpoint presentation since my early days on the subcommittee, so I will need to do a little work to get ready, but I’m happy to help. We are heading for a vacation at the coast next week and I’m hopeful that some ideas can come together along the way. If it all works out, I’ll give you the specifics so you can attend or listen later. Stay tuned!


Every now and then some new gadget or technology catches my eye and I can just see how this could be incorporated into a wonderful activity. Two weeks ago it was the sticker books from Moo printing, which I must have seen on another website looking for information about children’s crafts. Each book contains 90 stickers printed according to your instructions. Everyone could be different if you like. And the entire set costs just 10 dollars.

I thought I’d try one out just to see if I liked it.

How  remarkably cute is this little book? The stickers are the size of postage stamps. I know what you’re thinking. How does this relate to beaver education? I’ll tell you how. Suppose each sticker book is a different species, birds, fish, dragonflies, frogs etc. And suppose kids had to ‘earn’ each sticker from the exhibitors by learning how beavers helped that animal. And suppose kids were given a card printed with an inviting keystone image on which to place their gathered stickers. A ‘Keystone Keepsake’ let’s call it. Like this for instance.

The physicality of placing that sticker on the card does a lot to really make the ecosystem connection. As you can see the possibilities are practically endless. I talked with Mark Poulin last week about reusing his very fun images he did as buttons one year. He gave permission and thought it was a great idea. Then I pulled together a keystone image with the fun illustration of Jane Grant Tentas, and it all came together. We could do 15 species for 150 dollars for 90 children, and I bet if I poke Moo a little bit I might get a bit of a donation because look how I’m plugging their adorable product!