Archive for the ‘Educational’ Category

Beaver Terrorists

Posted by heidi08 On July - 3 - 2015ADD COMMENTS

Did I really say for a moment we were winning? Silly, silly, me.
KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

 USDA exploding beaver dams to benefit trout

VILAS County – WI

Wildlife Services Project Leader Kelly Thiel directed the removal of the dam by blowing it up with explosives.

“The purpose of our work is to create a free-flowing stream for the benefit of the trout to be able to migrate up and down,” Thiel says. “If you have beaver dams in there, they can’t migrate, they’re locked in. To have a self-sustaining stream, it needs to be free-flowing.”

 Trout struggle to travel, spawn, and live without those cold, free-flowing streams.

 The U.S. Forest Service and Wisconsin DNR decide which streams Wildlife Services will clear. Of the approximately 1,500 miles of streams that Wildlife Services clears in northern Wisconsin, most of them are high-quality trout streams.

 The work leading up to a particular blast can take months or years. Wildlife Services surveys beaver populations on streams. Then, once it selects a stream for clearing, workers trap all the beavers near the dams in the spring or early summer. It blasts about 150 dams each year.

 ”This stuff detonates at 23,000 feet per second,” Thiel says, stringing a cord between containers of explosives.

 It took about three pounds of explosives to blow up this dam on the Little Deerskin River. Workers placed them strategically and double-checked all the equipment before clearing other people from the area and taking cover with a remote trigger.

 The explosion sent tree limbs, water, and other debris dozens of feet in the air.

Those lucky trout! Gosh,  I bet that water is so crystal clear afterwords when all that debris falls back into the stream. The fish must LOVE it, I mean not the baby fish that were hiding in the side sticks of the dam obviously because they were blown up, but the other fish that survive the falling limbs and rocks, they must love their new gritty home. And the predators must love it too because even after fish stop falling from the sky, there’s no cover left for the survivors. Easy pickin’s.

Ironically yesterday was the LAST day for Wisconsin to receive public comment on their truly disabled fishmisinformed beaver management plan. You remember, the one where they think even though research says beavers help trout in the wacky west, Wisconsin fish are weaker and their conditions are harder, and so they must be saved by painstakingly killing beavers and blowing up dams. I and others dutifully sent them comments containing actual science, but they will obviously ward it of with their powerful information-resistant shields and continue doing what they do.

At least USDA will get to keep having fun. For them buisiness is booming. BOOM BOOM BOOM!

Here are my submitted comments in case anyone’s interested. I was trying HARD not to be too sarcastic, but the last paragraph is my favorite.

Beaver Management Plan

 I’m interested in the research that has lead you to believe trout in Wisconsin function differently than trout in Utah, Colorado or Oregon. I’m surprised that no one in the audience of your webinar asked about this, or wanted to understand why you think the principles of hyporheic exchange operate differently in the badger state then in the west. Current research emphasizes the hydraulic pressure of water behind beaver dams push that water downward and promote exchange of groundwater into beaver streams, making them cooler.

 It surprises me that there is so much faith in the Avery study noting the co-occurrence of dam removal with trout population improvement. Obviously correlation doesn’t mean causation. A cursory review of the literature and periodicals of the time confirm that there were significant other changes to the watershed during that period, that could easily have affected fish health. To assume that this is reliably due to the reduction in beaver seems naïve and ahistorical.

 I was confused to hear that Wisconsin believes the population of beaver went up historically before this program was implemented, until I realized you were referring only to the baseline of the 1900’s – then it made sense. I’m not sure why you ignored the significant beaver population that existed before then. The fur trade brought the French to your state as early as the 1600’s I think, and obviously natives lived with beaver abundance long before that. In 1621 Samuel de Champlain described America’s pristine landscape and exclaimed that beaver occupied “every river, brook and rill.” Surely given the waterways of Wisconsin your landscape was no different. Your beaver population must have been prodigious, much, much higher than it was even before you instated the beaver management plan. If beaver really couldn’t co-exist with trout why didn’t the Dakota Sioux or Ojibwe complain about the abysmal fishing conditions?

 The attached study completed recently looked specifically at the issue of trout passage of beaver dams, and found that natives like brook and cutthroat passed easily in both directions, while nonnatives had more trouble. Are you suggesting that Wisconsin has fewer native trout? Or that the trout it has are disabled in some way?

It is regretful that when the issue of ‘protecting resources” was discussed in your presentation, you seemed fairly disinterested in the most impactful one you take for granted; the one that creates habitat, increases invertebrates, sequesters carbon, and stores water. As I just returned from presenting at the chapter presidents meeting at TU specifically on beaver and trout. I want to suggest that you select just one stream as a control to study what happens to fish population if you stop trapping beaver.

I think the results would surprise you.

Let’s cleanse the pallate with two lovely photos from Robin in Napa showing the barren ruined habitat that beavers leave in their destructive fish killing wake.


Kit in tulocay Creek – Photo Robin Ellison


Mink in Tulocay beaver pond – Robin Ellison



Beavers Unlimited

Posted by heidi08 On July - 2 - 2015ADD COMMENTS

Just in case you’re not sure I’m telling the truth about four kits, here’s the proof. Junior comes from the left for size comparison. One of the kits is a little meanie. I’m waiting for mom or dad to straighten him out.

We didn’t have to wait long to see all four. Hoping they agree to stay upstream through the fourth.

Now, as promised we can finally return to the fantastic Beaver article from Ducks Unlimited. It’s definitely worth our time.

Understanding Waterfowl: Beaver Ponds and Breeding Ducks – Growing beaver populations have created an abundance of high-quality habitat for waterfowl

“We have mined the northland, not for wheat, not for gold—but for fur. Now the fur seed is gone.”

Those words were spoken in 1938 by Ducks Unlimited Canada’s first general manager, Tom Main. He was relating his ideas about how to resolve the challenges facing waterfowl as DU began its first year of operation. Main and many others believed that beaver ponds were an integral component of the original habitat that once produced sky-darkening flocks of waterfowl. By the time DU started its conservation work, however, nearly all the beavers and the millions of ponds they had created along the continent’s rivers and streams were gone.

 Research has verified that beaver ponds provide important habitat for waterfowl. In a large study conducted by DU in the Clay Belt region of Ontario, the most abundant breeding duck in beaver pond–rich forests was the mallard. Other common breeding ducks on beaver ponds include cavity-nesting wood ducks, hooded mergansers, buffleheads, and common goldeneyes. Beaver ponds also provide breeding habitat for American black ducks, blue- and green-winged teal, American wigeon, and ring-necked ducks.

 Beaver populations have now expanded across the United States. In many areas, especially in the West, beavers are increasingly viewed as key partners in the restoration of diverse plant and animal communities. Beaver ponds provide vital habitat for many species of fish, amphibians, and birds while also conserving threatened water supplies and moderating downstream flooding.

 But what effect do beavers have on continental waterfowl populations? DU and others have long chronicled and fought the loss of wetlands important to waterfowl. Despite all our efforts, the net loss of wetlands has continued and even accelerated on the continent’s most important waterfowl breeding, migration, and wintering areas.

 As natural wetlands have declined, man-made water bodies such as reservoirs, storm-water retention basins, borrow pits, and golf course ponds have increased on the landscape. Many man-made ponds and lakes are of limited value to waterfowl, although they do serve some wetland functions. DU and its conservation partners restore, enhance, and protect high-quality natural wetlands that provide crucial habitat for waterfowl and other wildlife. As nature’s wetland engineers, beavers are in the same business, and they do all the work themselves.

Beavers truly are a partner in wetlands restoration and maintenance, just as Tom Main had hoped they would be over 75 years ago.

High praise from a powerful lobby. I’m sure a lot of us might have mixed feelings about DU. (They want lots and lots of ducks to grow up big and strong so they can go out and shoot them.) But DU has done literally more wetlands restoration than we can imagine. They put their money where their guns are, and as a result they have saved many of the very species they are interested in hunting. They really are conservationists. Not my kind maybe, but conservationists all the same.

And they love beavers because they help them do this work. And that’s a big deal.

Not to hog all the camera time, Rusty sent a wonderful photo this week of an otter truly enjoying all that Tulocay beaver pond has to offer.

close your mouth

Close your mouth when you chew – photo Rusty Cohn

One more film from last night. This was heart-meltingly beautiful. Love mom’s foot in this video. Reminds me of a Degas painting.


Just Desserts for beavers

Posted by heidi08 On July - 1 - 2015ADD COMMENTS

There are not one but TWO awesome pieces of beaver news this morning. I’ll start with the pièce de résistance, a phrase which literally means the thing with staying power. Because that’s what this is. Really.

pollockMichael Pollock sent it to me yesterday on it’s glorious release.  He said getting out 1.0 was grueling and he was still seeing typos, but he asked me to give him thoughts about 2.o down the line.  Check out the title photograph for which it credits the Worth A Dam FOUNDATION.  We would have liked Cheryl’s name too but I’m happy we got the website. And this is exactly the kind of place we want our photos to be. Just read for yourself.

Beaver as a Partner in Restoration

More and more, restoration practitioners are using beaver to accomplish stream, wetland, and floodplain restoration. This is happening because, by constructing dams that impound water and retain sediment, beaver substantially alter the physical, chemical, and biological characteristics of the surrounding river ecosystem, providing benefits to plants, fish, and wildlife. The possible results are many, inclusive of : higher water tables; reconnected and expanded floodplains; more hyporheic exchange; higher summer base flows; expanded wetlands; improved water quality; greater habitat complexity; more diversity and richness in the populations of plants, birds, fish, amphibians, reptiles, and mammals; and overall increased complexity of the river ecosystem.

It starts with a review of the hydromorphic and geological effects of beaver dams, then talks about filtration, groundwater and biodiversity. Honestly. for the beaver nay-eayers on your list, this is a big dose of science from the heavy weights FWS, NOAA, and USFS. Even if you can read nothing else, take a look at the first chapter because it says literally everything you know to win the next five arguments you have about beavers.

Chapter 1—Effects of Beaver Dams on Physical and Biological Processes

Beaver impoundments change the spatial distribution of water (groundwater, pond, or stream), as well as the timing of its release and residence time in the watershed. Beaver dams impound water in ponds and pools, and these impoundments slow the flow of the stream; this holds the water within the stream reach for longer periods and can increase base flows (reviewed in Pollock et al. 2003). Indeed, some perennial streams transform into intermittent and/or ephemeral streams following the removal of beaver dams (Finley 1937, Wilen et al. 1975).

Conversely, reintroduced beaver have transformed some intermittent streams back to perennial streams (Dalke 1947, Pollock et al. 2003), and recolonizing beaver have transformed slightly losing streams to gaining streams ((Majerova et al. 2015).

Honestly every ecologist and politician needs to read this from cover to cover. It ends with first hand case studies of watersheds where beaver were introduced. And describes the successes they observed. I already told Michael it needs a section on restoration in URBAN streams and he says he lobbied for its inclusion but was denied.Thus far. Another something for version 2.0.

At the end is a list of resources for answering any burning beaver question that might arise. And guess what’s first?


That’s right.  Listed before the established forefathers of Beaver Solutions and BWW, the little upstart crows of beavers from martinez have first place in the queue. Along with the cover placement. We are the Alpha and the Omega of living with beavers. Could there be a better sign that we are doing the right thing? Not for me there couldn’t. (I mean another thousand readers couldn’t hurt, but I’d rather be the GO TO spot when folks have burning questions than anything else.)

Honestly the whole thing is such a useful, instructive, science-based labor of love that it will take me weeks to fully read. I did my best to splash its announcement around the four corners of the internet, but feel free to share with your unpersuaded friend(s) of choice. What a fine ending to June!

I think I’ll leave the DU article for tomorrow. But if you want a sneak peak here it is.

Understanding Waterfowl: Beaver Ponds and Breeding Ducks: Growing beaver populations have created an abundance of high-quality habitat for waterfowl

I sometimes get the feeling that we’re winning.


Everything old is new again

Posted by heidi08 On June - 29 - 2015ADD COMMENTS

The first time, ever I saw your face from Heidi Perryman on Vimeo.

Things are looking familiar down at the beaver dam. Three kits and at least four adults in residence, plus Junior. It all makes for some pretty exciting beaver viewing. Not to mention that apparently five out of the six new pairs of kit eyes are developing conjunctivitis just like the old days…Sheesh. Rickipedia pointed out that the e coli in Palo Alto streams all starts with grazing cattle in the upper watershed. And I bet that’s how our beavers got unlucky again. Another reason to dislike cows near open water. Funny that everyone assumes it’s the city life and chemicals that give our beavers a hard time, when its really the wide open spaces with cows.

Here the new kit is feeding alongside mom and dad. You can even see mom remind him of his manners. I particularly love how fully the kit is part of their lives. He goes where they go, does what they do. It makes me remember those rare moments as a child when I was allowed to tag along with my father to work. It was so exciting to be with him in his big world. Beavers always bring their kids to work. Every day, whether their mudding or damming or feeding. It’s part of the package.

Side by side from Heidi Perryman on Vimeo.

We’re still waiting for three kits to pose kindly in the same frame. But trust me, there are three. Apparently two share a similar gender or disposition and like to hang in pairs. But one is definitely his own beaver, and rejects the opportunities to crowd with his siblings. I think it’s the one with only one eye infected at the moment, so maybe that explains it. But since beavers groom their entire bodies and spread that bacteria around, I’m sure it will be both soon.

Let’s hope a high tide and some fresh salty water will help clean everyone soon. Mom’s been shaking her head a lot lately, so I’m guessing hers is an ear infection. Stupid cows.

With three kits and so many adults there’s always lots of time for my favorite thing. If your sound is up I think you’ll be able to hear a little of it here.

kit whining from Heidi Perryman on Vimeo.

Victory comes in many forms

Posted by heidi08 On June - 27 - 2015Comments Off

I won’t force you to read this story with a soundtrack, but, (and I can’t stress this enough) you REALLY should.

Mom fights Shoreline School District about beaver and wins

The maintenance crew at Brookside Elementary in Lake Forest Park had a wildlife-removal firm set up traps to catch and kill a beaver at a creek by the school. Then they heard from moms and kids. The traps are gone.

It took less than three days for the Shoreline School District to capitulate to the moms and kids.  The order had gone out to trap a beaver that had arrived at Brookside Elementary in Lake Forest Park.

 On Monday, a sign from a firm called Northwest Nuisance Wildlife Control was placed at the creek bordering the school:


Left unsaid was that the trapped beaver likely would have been killed, with a shot to the head, as the state doesn’t encourage relocation. Relocated beavers have a poor chance of surviving.

 On Wednesday afternoon, the district backtracked with this mass email:

 “The traps are being removed from the area. The District will be researching viable approaches to manage this situation. We appreciate community support and insights we have received this week.”

Ohhh yeah! Martinez knows that victory comes when children carry signs and moms write letters. Hurray for Lake Forest Park and the heroes of Brookside elementary! And one mom in particular:

Meet Jenny Muilenburg, librarian at the University of Washington and mother to kids attending Brookside. On Monday morning, returning from a swim team practice, she saw the sign right across the road from her home. Peering from the edge of the road, she saw the metal traps.

This is how protests begin these days.

You take a smartphone picture of that sign. You post on Facebook. You send out news tips to media outlets.  You email, then have a phone conversation with the Lake Forest Park Stewardship Foundation.

 Its president, Jean Reid, then pays a personal visit Tuesday to City Hall, which is surprised to hear about the traps. Pressure on the school district mounts.

 Muilenburg writes, “Like many schools in the area, the school teaches environmental education, and each year releases salmon into the stream abutting the property … The kids love the beaver …

 “Can someone help us figure out why, when local and state governments and nonprofits and volunteers are all working year-round to improve our waterways and greenspaces to encourage wildlife, that a nondestructive, harmless animal that provides a learning opportunity for children and adults alike must be removed?”

 By Tuesday, neighborhood kids put up signs by the creek: “We love our beaver.” “Save the beaver!”

Joey Eck, 8, decides the beaver’s name is “Billy.”

 Free Willy, Free Billy.

Game. Set. Match.

Someone bring that woman a margarita because she deserves a little treat this weekend. Involving children always makes the difference, and living near the beavers and showing photos to the media doesn’t hurt either! I tracked Jenny down at the university and emailed her a ton of info when the article originally aired. She never wrote back but I’m going to assume it helped.

Now you just might want to click play on that video again for this story. Just sayin’

Two men rescued after Deschutes River beaver attack – Fell in water after climbing onto dam

BEND, Ore. – Exploring along the banks of the Deschutes River is usually a placid, familiar activity for locals and visitors alike. But two men, from Bend and Redmond, ended up seeking rescuers’ help Thursday evening when they climbed to the wrong spot – a beaver dam – got attacked by a protective beaver and fell into the water, authorities said.

The caller told dispatchers that Clayton Mitchell, 23, of Bend, had walked to his property from upriver and said he and his friend, John Bailey, 31, of Redmond, had been attacked by a beaver.

He reported his friend last was seen in the water, trapped amid some submerged logs, said Sgt. Bailey (who the department noted is not related to the Redmond man)

Sgt. Bailey said an investigation found the two men were exploring along the river when they climbed onto a beaver dam when they were “attacked by a beaver protecting his/her dam and both subjects fell into the Deschutes River.”

 “Mitchell was able to immediately climb out of the water, but Bailey was caught on some logs by his clothing,” the sergeant said. “Bailey eventually was able to climb out of the water as the first deputy arrived at the location.”

The story was of course picked up by the AP and is running absolutely everywhere, but no one has managed to explain to me whether the hikers were walking on the dam or the lodge, and what exactly constituted the “attack”. I wish I was hired as an attorney for the defense. Near as I can tell these hikers got scared by the beaver approaching, fell into the water and got poked by some sticks from the dam.

Which, as far as I’m concerned, serves them right. Because I hate when humans walk on the dam.


Best Beaver Day Ever?

Posted by heidi08 On June - 25 - 20152 COMMENTS

So yesterday morning, former Martinez resident LB sent me this story from an elementary school right outside Seattle trying to get rid of its beaver. Apparently the state with the smartest beaver management in the nation has  a few large pockets of ignorance.

Wash. school district looking to get rid of pesky beaver

On an elementary school campus? With kids who love the beavers and parents who care? In Washington? So LB and I wrote the principal and media spokesperson for the district, and I posted  about it on facebook. Mind you, this is in Kings county which had one of the only websites about flow devices when we were looking for answers back in 2007. Shouldn’t they, of all places, know better?

I learned that in addition to being worried that ‘the beaver” would attack the students,  one of the concerns was about the Lake Forest Park Stewardship Foundation which had just worked with students to hatch and release salmon eggs in the creek, and wouldn’t the beaver dam ruin everything?

No kidding. 12 miles from Michael Pollock’s office.

So I made sure everyone had a crash course in beavers and salmon and sent the salmon film and flow device information, and I added the LFPSF to the list of people I included in the little impromptu seminar. I sent along the kids power point presentation that I made for teachers to use in Contra Costa County and encouraged them to look at teacher materials on our website. And when I posted about this on the beaver management page several bold people actually CALLED the school to ask what the heck they were thinking-including an elementary school science teacher in WA who said he would love beavers on his campus to use in education!

And guess what? By midday the school had backed down and the traps were removed. Let me say that again. By midday the school had backed down and the traps were removed. The principal said he was  happy to know about flow devices. And this morning the director of LFPSF wrote to thank me for the all the information and said he was thrilled that when the reporters called this morning they knew much more than they did before about beavers and salmon and how to prevent flooding.

I think that makes yesterday the single most successful day we’ve ever seen on this website. I am so grateful so many people spoke up and they agreed to do the right thing. I have to admit I felt a little powerful yesterday. As if I had finally been doing this work long enough to make a difference.

ZUBR Beavers from Platige Image on Vimeo.

But that’s kind of silly. Honestly, I guess if you can’t save beavers near an elementary school just outside Seattle, you’re probably in the wrong line of work.

(H/T to RC from Napa for the ZUBR comercial. Which, in case you didn’t guess already,  is polish for Bison.)

A ‘Winters’ Tale

Posted by heidi08 On June - 22 - 2015Comments Off

Looks like the Putah Creek Beavers are getting some traction.

Winters in uproar over Putah Creek beavers, otters


 In this sleepy, orchard-ringed commuter town, a former newspaper reporter wondered aloud last week whether she ought to chain herself to a bulldozer.

 The source of her and others’ unlikely, new-found activism? A languid 1,000-foot stretch of Putah Creek and a group of beavers and river otters living inside a wide, deep pool.

 Some Winters wildlife lovers are pushing back against the last phase of a city stream rehabilitation project that will shoo the aquatic mammals away.

 Carol Brydolf was relieved. On Thursday, the former reporter had discussed with a fellow activist whether she had the fortitude to chain herself to a bulldozer to stop the project. She said Friday that the project’s managers were finally listening to their concerns.

 “They really, really blew us off,” she said.

The upheaval over the beavers and otters has spilled over into public meetings, newspaper letters to the editor, social media accounts and an online petition. City Manager John Donlevy Jr. said he is exhausted by the acrimony.

Donlevy said project managers have performed detailed scientific assessments and have gotten input from every stakeholder group, including the animal lovers. The beavers and otters won’t be harmed, he said. They just have to move somewhere else for a little while.

Oh is that all? They just have to pack the entire family in the station wagon and go to motel 6 for a while? I mean after the bulldozers make their roof cave in and they’re buried underground and a few lucky ones dig their way out and escape? As horrific as that sounds, something tells me they’re taking it to the next level in Winters. This article doesn’t even mention the piebald beaver, which means they feel better keeping their ace in the hole for now.


Click for video

Good, I wrote the mayor and city manager and maybe you should too. They need to be reminded that beavers are asleep during the day and that when their homes are crushed during their slumber they don’t “go somewhere else for a while”.

Unless they’re Uma Thurman, they suffocate and die.

Some opponents, including Tim Caro, a Winters resident and UC Davis wildlife biologist, are skeptical.

 Caro said it’s such a small section of the stream that the benefits to salmon likely will be negligible and not worth depriving residents of a fascinating window into the natural world from their neighborhood nature trail.

 “Schoolkids in the city of Winters could learn about biology by seeing these charismatic mammals,” he said.

For the time being, they still can. At least for another month.

School children, biologists, little old ladies. Just remember, you CAN stop city hall. But it takes many voices working together. Maybe that next meeting could look something like this.

Worth A Dam from Bill Schilz on Vimeo.