Archive for the ‘Educational’ Category

And baby makes three…

Posted by heidi08 On July - 30 - 2016Comments Off on And baby makes three…

Meanwhile the folks in Olympic Village are worried where there beaver kits will grow up. And have apparently forgotten about yearlings entirely.

Baby beavers in Olympic Village may struggle to find a home in Vancouver

The struggle to find housing is a classic Vancouver dilemma and it seems even beavers in this city aren’t exempt. 

A growing family of beavers living in a park by Vancouver’s Olympic Village may soon find themselves struggling to find a new habitat because nearby urban areas suitable for rodents are at capacity.

Based on public videos and photos, Vancouver Park Board biologist Nick Page believes up to three baby beavers are now are living with their parents in Hinge Park.

“The challenge is as the beaver population expands, that habitat isn’t large enough to support even a pair of beavers,” said Page.

Hinge Park, a man-made wetland, is considerably smaller than the usual habitats beavers tend to occupy — which means far less food. The baby beavers will likely live with their parents for at least another year before a new litter comes when he expects the trio will be forced to move out of its current lodgings.

Hmmmm that’s a head-scratcher for sure. Where the heck will those three beavers go to find their home? Obviously they won’t be allowed to stay in Hinge park. How can they POSSIBLY escape with all that concrete? I have a guess. Do you?

CaptureApparently Canada has forgot A LOT of what they learned about beavers – including that yearlings stay with the family another year or two to take care of the new kits. And they forgot that beavers don’t need to live in small waterways and can be perfectly happy in larger bodies just like they are on the Carquinez strait which gets salt water from the ocean and fresh water from the valleys. There are a lot of bays and inlets in that Salish sea that will probably work and remember beavers can thrive in water as salty as 10 parts per 1000.  IF all three kits live that long, which isn’t a sure thing in this world they’ll find a home.

Yesterday we worked on the prize wheel that was generously donated by Jeanette, shown with her niece working at prior festivals here. She was planning on being there to borrow one of the large ones from her corporation, but when that didn’t work out she bought one for us instead. This will be at the membership booth and donations of 20 dollars or more will earn a spin and win one of these fine treats! Hopefully the lovely clicking noise it makes when it spins will lure traffic to the booth and compel hard working folks to invest in some amazing beaver opportunities!

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Scientific American Beavers

Posted by heidi08 On July - 26 - 2016Comments Off on Scientific American Beavers

Our friend Nick Bouwes is in the news again, this time in Scientific American.

CaptureHere’s a nice discussion of his work and findings on ’60 second science’ by Jason G. Goldman. You really should stop what you’re doing and listen because it will make much more sense than anything I’m going to write this morning.

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CLICK TO LISTEN

Don’t you love it when people are talking about beavers in Scientific American? Better yet, when SA is talking about a subject YOU ALREADY KNOW about. Yes we are cutting edge here at beaver central, scientific institutions with large budgets and research teams are scrambling to keep up.

It occurs to me that there is a trace of Rick Lanman’s influence evident in this article. His intelligent re-examination of historic writing and lore was fairly unheard of in beaver research before our historic prevalence papers. Now even Bridge Creek is talking about Lewis and Clark as a way to understand what was lost when all the water-savers were killed.

Nice work, Rick!

I’m driving back to Auburn tomorrow to give a presentation to the Fish and Game Commission of Placer. It should be mighty interesting to talk to them about what Martinez did and gained  in contrast their own particularly horrific track record. I’m hoping that they’ll at least start thinking about what else they might be losing by killing 7 times more beavers than any county in the state. Wish me luck.

mystery

Saving the water-savers

Posted by heidi08 On July - 25 - 2016Comments Off on Saving the water-savers

Off to the big sky country where beavers are getting some help from the Nature Conservancy.

Volunteers spruce up Tupper’s Lake trail, install beaver deceiver

SEELEY LAKE – A rough trail skirting Tupper’s Lake is becoming a beaten path. The second annual Revive and Thrive event on Sunday drew 40 volunteers and about 200 people celebrating the Clearwater-Blackfoot Project. It’s part of The Nature Conservancy’s $85 million purchase of more than 117,000 acres around Placid Lake and the Gold Creek drainage last year.

For a long time, there were issues with beavers plugging the old culvert, causing water to jump the creek channel and wash out nearby roads. So a new, extended culvert was installed, this one with a water control structure and multiple holes in the culvert.

On Sunday, the volunteers used metal fencing, called calf panels, T-posts and wire to construct a triangle-shaped beaver deceiver surrounding the culvert. Each side is about 14 feet long.

“The idea (with the holes) is the beavers can’t hear the water flowing,” Kloetzel said. “The sound attracts them.”

The hope is that pulling one over on the beavers will raise the lake three feet by this time next year, making it healthier for the cutthroat trout stocked by the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks.

“The idea is to let the beavers live in the lake, but they won’t hurt the roads and the culvert,” Kloetzel said. “It’s an extra security measure. Then if they want to dam, they have to go around the entire surface of the cage.”

The beaver deceiver construction also lent itself to jokes, with one volunteer asking if the beavers had been notified and channeling their response:”Well, I’ll be ‘dam’ed …”

No photos of this ‘beaver deceiver’ though, one has to wonder what it looks like  since the reporter can’t tell the difference between a triangle and a trapazoid. Hmm. Or thinks her readers can’t. No discussion of beaver benefits or how this whole project will save wildlife and habitat in the long run. Never mind. It’s Montana for chrissake. We are DELIGHTED they are trying out some coexistence!

I am reposting this because I just realized you can zoom in by double clicking on the image. This is the perfect tool to showcase our heartstopping brochure from generous artist Amelia Hunter.

And this article took my breath away this morning, and I’m going to share it even though its not about beavers. It is about perseverance and tenacity though. Go read it and feel truly inspired.

Why California’s northern coast doesn’t look like Atlantic City

Let me set the scene first.

In the early 1960s, Pacific Gas & Electric Co. planned and began building a power plant at Bodega Head, one of the most jaw-dropping stretches of coast on the planet.

Meanwhile, developers were mapping plans for a monster residential project just north of Jenner at Sea Ranch, where sheep grazed between coastal bluffs and stunning pebble beaches.

“It began with Bodega Head,” Lucy said of the site of the proposed power plant. But it was Sea Ranch “that really got Bill stirred up.”

The Kortum posse set up ironing boards outside grocery stores, spread out their materials and made their case.

I’m not kidding. Go read this and realize how awesome a battle this was/is. Beavers are child’s play by comparison.

You will Thoreau-ly enjoy this story, I’m sure!

Posted by heidi08 On July - 22 - 2016Comments Off on You will Thoreau-ly enjoy this story, I’m sure!

Yesterday was puppet day, and we got a lovely load of wildlife puppets from generous Folkmanis for the silent auction. Also the brochures are back from the printer and look lovely. We saved some money by trying out a new printer and are pretty happy with the results. Now there’s more good news, this time from Mike Callahan and Thoreau!

It’s nature vs. Thoreau at Fairyland Pond in Concord

There weren’t many beavers around back in Henry David Thoreau’s day. To the dismay of the great naturalist, though society proclaimed admiration for these brilliant and industrious creatures, beavers had been all but exterminated locally, for their luxurious pelts.

But bAR-160729572.jpg&MaxW=650eavers are back in Concord now, and their wonderful intelligence has put one specific beaver in direct conflict with Thoreau himself, or at least, with one of Henry David’s favorite spots.

hdtThe problem is, the stream being dammed is fed by Brister’s Spring, which is really just a trickle of water seeping out of the rocks of Brister’s Hill (part of Walden Woods. Some of that water, it is believed, originally seeped into the rocks from nearby Walden Pond itself.) The spring creates a little wetland and tiny stream that runs a few hundred yards and through a pipe under a trail in the town forest and then into the Fairyland Pond. The beaver built its dam just as the stream enters the pond, so when the water backs up, and it has already started to, it will flood the trail, the wetland, and Brister’s Spring. Anybody who’s walked around Fairyland Pond in the past few weeks knows that the trail is already flooded. The wetland and Brister’s Spring are next.

Luckily they are on good terms with Mike Callahan who’s coming out to help them meet this particular beaver challenge.

EP-160729572.jpg&MaxW=650&MaxH=650The third option is, fortunately, what the town’s Natural Resources Department is considering; running a narrow pipe at the bottom of the stream, entirely underwater, and literally through a hole drilled in the base of the beaver dam, so the water flows from the Brister’s Spring through the wetland, into the pipe at the bottom of the stream, through the dam, and finally into Fairyland Pond, without making any noise. That’s the key. The diverter lets the water flow through the underwater pipe silently. The noise of rushing water is like a “BUILD DAM HERE!” sign to beavers. It’s what attracts them in the first place.

That proposal comes from Mike Callahan of Beaver Solutions, Inc., who has helped Concord (and communities throughout southern New England) humanely resolve beaver/human conflicts for years. He built the diversion system at the open end of Fairyland Pond, where it drains, when another beaver started to dam that a few years ago, and has also installed “beaver deceivers” at Punkatasset Pond.

“I love doing this work,” Callahan said. “It’s humane. It allows the animal stay around, at least until its food supply runs out, and it preserves a lot of the beneficial aspects of their work for the environment.”

Fantastic! We here at beaver LOVE to read stories like this! Congratulations to Mike for using his good work to win over the local DNR, and congratulations to that young beaver who as crafted an expert pond in historic real estate. I’m sure Mr. Thoreau would be impressed! (But white pants to fix a beaver mud problem? Really?)

Speaking of impressed, I received a note from the Coyote Brush Visitors wednesday who stayed a little while after we left and happened to film this. Two beavers. Mom in the foreground and littler Dad on the right. Together again apparently!

Not bad for a Tuesday

Posted by heidi08 On July - 20 - 2016Comments Off on Not bad for a Tuesday

Last night, new members or the PRMCC were sworn in. I was worried to see our old supporters go until I noticed that they included Adrienne Ursino who was one of the beavers very first supporters and the aide to former congressman Miller. She explained to the other commissioners that I had come to Madison’s preschool and kindergarten to teach beavers to the children and she admired how I was always helping people learn about beavers.  I quickly reviewed the mural process and described how it was based on our own photos, fit organically with the creek and reflected the real mountainsides behind it. The commission chair even said he had seen one of the beavers down at the new dam! Then I made sure to add that we should all be so lucky as to swim under our own memorial and keep right on taking trees at Ward Street.

(Given how MUCH controversy the beaver caused initially it was truly special to see how happy this made them.)

Afterward the commissioner discussed how lovely the mural was, and how quickly and professionally the process had gone They were impressed with its swift completion and found thanked Worth A Dam and Mario for making it happen. I thanked them for their kind words and couldn’t help thinking, ‘swift?’ that was ‘swift???’ because it seemed to me that it took ages and required repeated onerous effort to honor the contract, get the insurance, meet the city requirements blah blah blah. But okay, I can believe it happened ‘swifter’ than other murals in town.

Afterwards we drove to Ward Street to tell the beavers the good news. And there met some youngsters from Lafayette who will be selling temporary wildlife tattoos at the festival this year. They were eager for beaver photos to help them with their designs.  The beavers liked them very much and were obviously pleased with our news because they decided to cooperate. As did 3 adorable raccoon kits in the blackberry bushes.


Farming Friends and Beavers

Posted by heidi08 On July - 19 - 2016Comments Off on Farming Friends and Beavers

Oh the farmer and the beaver should be friends,
Oh the farmer and the beaver should be friends,
The beaver likes to build his dams
The farmer plants his corn and yams
But that’s no reason why they can’t be friends.

You know I already did a complete rendition of this song for the salmon in 2011, but I guess the beavers have lots of friends, (and don’t it’s not my fault if dam just naturally rhymes with yam, okay?)

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Pond and Slower Streams created by Beaver Serve as Nitrogen Sinks

Beavers, once valued for their fur, may soon have more appreciation in the Northeastern United States. There they are helping prevent harmful levels of nitrogen from reaching the area’s vulnerable estuaries. By creating ponds that slow down the movement of water, they aid in removing nitrogen from the water.

Arthur Gold at the University of Rhode Island, along with his colleagues, studies how the presence of beavers affects nitrogen levels in these waters. “What motivated us initially to study this process was that we were aware of the fact that beaver ponds were increasing across the Northeast,” he said. “We observed in our other studies on nitrogen movement that when a beaver pond was upstream, it would confound our results.

Those darn confounding beavers, ruining Suzanne Fouty’s drought research and Glynnis Hood’s nine year study with their crafty, research ruining ways. Just look at our beavers in Martinez! Confounding their memorial by continuing to exist!

The researchers realized the water retention time and organic matter build up within beavers’ ponds lead to the creation of ideal conditions for nitrogen removal. They then wanted to see how effectively they can do this. The researchers tested the transformative power of the soil by taking sample cores and adding nitrogen to them. These samples, about the size of a large soda bottle, were large enough to incorporate the factors that generate chemical and biological processes that take place in the much larger pond. They were also small enough to be replicated, manageable and measured for numerous changes. Researchers then added a special type of nitrogen to the samples that allowed them to be able to tell if the nitrogen was transformed and how.

Bacteria in the organic matter and soil were able to transform nitrogen, specifically as nitrate, into nitrogen gas, removing it from the system. Thanks to the conditions brought about by the beaver ponds, this process can remove approximately 5-45% of the nitrogen in the water, depending on the pond and amount of nitrogen present.

“I think what was impressive to us was that the rates were so high,” Gold explained. “They were high enough and beavers are becoming common enough, so that when we started to scale up we realized that the ponds can make a notable difference in the amount of nitrate that flows from our streams to our estuaries.

Ahh those rascally beavers, fixing our nitrogen problems and saving our salmon. I’m sure farmers will be rushing to lay down their dynamite and welcome these flat-tailed eco-heroes, right? I won’t hold my breath. It takes a lot of effort on all sides to change hearts and minds about beavers – which we learned first hand in Martinez.

Speaking of which, the drama was apparently a big enough deal (even in Washington) that I’m allowed officially to say it will be recognized by our Congressman at the beaver festival with an award and visit, and some discussing of the slim possibility of adding the Martinez Beavers to the congressional record.

No really.

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Selfies and Science

Posted by heidi08 On July - 16 - 2016Comments Off on Selfies and Science

Something really exciting happened yesterday, but I am using all my shards of self control and not talking about it yet, in case it affects the outcome. You will know soon. And it will be cool. I promise. In the mean time, a wildlife friend posted this article on FB and it really got me thinking.

Even scientists take selfies with wild animals. Here’s why they shouldn’t.

One of the great things about being a biologist is getting to work in the field and connect with wildlife. Through my career, I have enjoyed many unforgettable close encounters with various species, including turtles, birds, marine mammals, invertebrates and a lot of fish, especially sharks and rays.

My research program also has a strong focus on citizen science. I use data collected by recreational scuba divers and snorkelers to describe marine animal populations and conservation needs. Therefore, I work closely with the tourism industry.

Reflecting on my own experiences, however, I recognize that I and many of my peers have not always followed those best practices. Sure, we need to have close encounters with wildlife to do our work, and we have the necessary training and permits. We often have reason to photograph animals in the course of our research – for example, to quickly capture information such as size, health, sex, and geographic location. But we do not have permission, or good reason, to engage in recreational activities with our animal subjects – including restraining them for selfies.

I have worked with many researchers, including some who have pioneered best handling practices for wild animals. These people have years of training and experience, and know how to handle and release animals properly to maximize their survival. I have witnessed the making of many researcher-animal selfies – including photos with restrained animals during scientific study. In most cases the animal was only held for an extra fraction of a second while vigilant researchers simply glanced up and smiled for the camera already pointing in their direction.

But some incidents have been more intrusive. In one instance, researchers had tied a large shark to a boat with ropes across its tail and gills so that they could measure, biopsy and tag it. Then they kept it restrained for an extra 10 minutes while the scientists took turns hugging it for photos.

Although this may be an extreme case, a quick online search for images of “wildlife researchers” produces plenty of photos of scientist-selfies – with whales, birds, bats, fish, turtles, and other animals – including some of the world’s most endangered species.

Mixed signals

Taking selfies with animals may seem trivial and even beneficial if the photos get viewers interested in science. But these images do not show the researcher’s expertise or training or explain how his or her scientific sampling protocols have been vetted and approved by animal ethics experts. Moreover, the photos do not reveal that many sampling procedures injure or kill some of the animals that are captured for study and that research proposals include acceptable numbers of casualties. The public only sees scientists with animals that appear to be thriving and producing valuable information, despite being captured and handled.

When biologists add extra seconds or minutes of restraint for taking selfies, they reinforce the perception that animals are robust enough to tolerate this treatment. Some members of the public may think that it is a safe and acceptable practice and try to emulate what they see.

The easiest way to show that researchers working with wild animals are following best practices is to avoid engaging in recreational activities with restrained animal subjects, and to be careful about sharing photos from the field that are not clearly related to sanctioned research activities. By taking these steps, biologists can lead by example and help guide the public to interact more responsibly with wildlife.

Of course when I read this article I immediately went searching for scientists posing with beavers, and thought to my self, NO ONE would do that. But of course they did do that. After I found the first one I thought, well sure there’s one lunatic in Canada but no one ELSE would do that. And then I found three more. And then I stopped looking because it was too depressing.

The smart article makes reference also to the great effect of famous reseasherri worth a damrchers interacting gently with animals (Jane Goodall, Sylvie Erle) (Ahem, Sherri Tippie) and says that while those events have significant benefit to public perception and little harm to the animals, researchers still need to be thoughtful about their choices every time.  Is the photo to help the world see that animal in a different way? Or is it just to show off? Where will this photo go and who should see it?

Even if all the average biologist, researcher and technician did was THINK of the points raised in this article I’d be grateful. The tension between observing and interacting is a constant one, and certainly not unfelt in the drama of the Martinez Beavers, right down to the end of life decisions we had to make with our original mom. Go read the whole thing, and share it with your wildlife friends.

And I will try again tomorrow not to blurt out the exciting almost-news.