Archive for the ‘Educational’ Category

Fargo’s valuable cargo

Posted by heidi08 On August - 27 - 2015Comments Off

KVRR:  Beaver Backers Won’t Back Down: Nearly 60,000 Sign Petition

This clip couldn’t be embedded so I had to get it on youtube as best I could. You recognize that’s BEAUTIFUL beaver photo over the reporters shoulder right? That the iconic photo by our own Cheryl Reynolds taken in 2008 of a truly handsome yearling grooming. (Youth are so focused on appearance!) What a fantastic way to start the newscast about citizens demanding to do beaver  things differently.

It’s all over the news today, and you have to think about the time the park district is spending answering calls and holding meetings and wonder whether trapping is REALLY less expensive.

costMartinez knows how this goes. Why not give our mayor a call? I’m sure he could share some memories. The truth is you had one chance to do this quietly, before everyone knew about the beavers. That chance has passed like morning mist on a hot day. It’s over. Now you have to do it the right way. You can protest as long as you want, like a child refusing a nap, but you know I’m right. Yes, it is 10% more work wrapping trees than paying a hitman. But after you finish adding up the amount of money you’re wasting to defend your ignorant decision to do this the wrong way it’s going to seem CHEAP by comparison. Honestly.

There’s religious music over my talking in this version for unknown reasons, but that doesn’t matter. all of Martinez was SO smart and well spoken at this meeting. nearly a decade ago. I realize that my input hardly mattered. And, in retrospect, to paraphrase Voltaire, if I didn’t exist, I surely would have been invented.

Do I look like a hat to you?

Posted by heidi08 On August - 26 - 2015Comments Off

Yesterday I received an excellent surprise. An early copy of Frances Backhouse newest book “Once they were hats”. If her name sounds vaguely familiar it’s because she was the journalist responsible for that excellent article in the Canadian Geographic a couple years ago, “Rethinking beaver“.

rethinkingI wrote about that article in December of 2012 and said she did a stellar job of recounting the benefits but noted that since people were very lazy she needed to spend time focusing on how problems were solvable – because it didn’t matter how good they were if people thought their challenges couldn’t be fixed. She must have listened, because we crossed paths again at the Beaver Management Forum, and that’s how I received the early copy of this book.

Grey Owl would be happy to note that Canada’s beaver journey has taken a leap forward in the past 5 years, starting with Glynnis Hood’s Beaver Manifesto in 2011, then the Canadian Geographic article in 2012, Jari Osborne’s “Beaver Whisperer”  on the CBC 2013, and its American version on PBS in 2014. This year saw Michael Runtz book and now Frances’ arrival. It’s all been pretty exciting for a beaver-phile like me.

Here’s how the publisher describes her book, I will tell you my thoughts just as soon as I turn every page.

Discover deeper truths and quirky facts that cast new light on this keystone species

 Beavers, those icons of industriousness, have been gnawing down trees, building dams, shaping the land, and creating critical habitat in North America for at least a million years. Once one of the continent’s most ubiquitous mammals, they ranged from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and from the Rio Grande to the edge of the northern tundra. Wherever there was wood and water, there were beavers — 60 million (or more) — and wherever there were beavers, there were intricate natural communities that depended on their activities. Then the European fur traders arrived.

 In Once They Were Hats, Frances Backhouse examines humanity’s 15,000-year relationship with Castor canadensis, and the beaver’s even older relationship with North American landscapes and ecosystems. From the waterlogged environs of the Beaver Capital of Canada to the wilderness cabin that controversial conservationist Grey Owl shared with pet beavers; from a bustling workshop where craftsmen make beaver-felt cowboy hats using century-old tools to a tidal marsh where an almost-lost link between beavers and salmon was recently found, Backhouse goes on a journey of discovery to find out what happened after we nearly wiped this essential animal off the map, and how we can learn to live with beavers now that they’re returning.

 If you have as little patience for all things beaver as I do, you can preorder your copy here or here.  I found a nice interview with Frances concerning one of the heroines from her previous book “Women of the Klondike” I think you’ll enjoy.

Now, you’re on your own because I have some important reading to do.


Friends in USDA places

Posted by heidi08 On August - 23 - 2015Comments Off

Learn about beaver at watershed meeting

COQUILLE — The Coquille Watershed Association will host Dr. Jimmy Taylor and Vanessa Petro from Oregon State University, who will present “Understanding Beaver in the Beaver State.”

 The presentation will start at 7 p.m. Monday, Aug. 24 in the Owen Building at 201 North Adams in Coquille.

Taylor is a project leader for the USDA’s National Wildlife Research Center and a faculty member in OSU’s College of Forestry. His presentation will include an overview of past and active beaver research studies in Oregon, as well as recommendations for managing landscapes that include beavers.

Petro is a faculty research assistant at Oregon State University and conducts field research with the USDA’s National Wildlife Research Center. She will present the preliminary results for the Oregon Coast Range American Beaver Genetics Study.

USDA has a pretty bad rap when it comes to beavers, or any living creature whatsoever really, but Jimmy Taylor is an exception, who has worked from the inside to promote and research flow devices, and who a million years ago helped me in fine tuning what to say to our city to let our beavers stay. (I’m not sure he would appreciate being called an exception, but this is my website and I can say it if I want to.) I did an interview with him a while back, which you can listen to here.

Subscribe in iTunes!

If Coquille is a little far off your beaten path, here’s a similar presentation from 2 years ago.

Nature’s Architect

Posted by heidi08 On August - 22 - 2015Comments Off

What’s the best way to re-wild Scotland? Just leave it to beaver.

 by Jim Crumley

Today’s conservationists are by no means the first people to wonder if it might be a good idea to bring beavers back to these shores. In the course of investigating Scotland’s colourful beaver history, nature writer Jim Crumley travelled to Mount Stuart on the Isle of Bute, where, in the 1870s, John Patrick Crichton-­Stuart, 3rd Marquess of Bute, apparently conducted an early beaver experiment. Delving into the Mount Stuart archives, Crumley found that in 1874 the Marquess had a walled, four-acre beaver enclosure built on his property with a stream running through it and plenty of trees to serve as raw material for dams and lodges. This he proceeded to populate with Canadian beavers, which he purchased at £10 a pop from one Charles Jamrach, a naturalist based in London.

After a brief period in which they appeared to flourish, by 1889 the Bute beavers were no more.

This book, then, is a passionate argument for letting beavers carry out their ancient role in our landscape, as creators of wetland habitat that will benefit other animals and promote biodiversity for centuries to come. As Crumley puts it, the beaver is “an architect that designs, redesigns, restores, and recreates wildness. For nothing. Forever.” Counter arguments will no doubt be made, but not as eloquently.

This sounds like a fascinating read, and I just bought my copy. I love the history of beavers being introduced by the Marquess. And love the urgency which which he advocates reintroduction now. I also haven’t ever read a book about castor fiber, as all big guns are about our canadian beavers. This should be fun!


Yesterday I read they were fogging for west nile virus at the marina. Something they had already done in July. Were the chemicals they used possibly impactful for beavers? For that matter, could beavers die from West Nile Virus? Horses, dogs and cats apparently do.

The vet at fish and game  asked a colleague about the chemicals. She wrote back that It was Pyrocide, active ingredient pyrethrins. It has a very low toxicity to mammals. So probably not. Hmmm. it was worth considering though.

No new deaths, and we’re still walking the creek every day to just in case there are bodies. Let me know if you can help.

California’s first modern-day wolf pack sighted in Siskiyou County

On Thursday, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife released photos of five wolf pups with a pair of adults, one of them thought to be the wolf seen in the spring. It is the first confirmed sighting of a gray wolf pack in modern California history.

 California should be very happy to have wolves! 5 pups documented from our very own golden state pack. Which brings our resident wolf population to 7. (For those following along at home, California hasn’t had wolves since 1924.) Now I know what you’re thinking. “Hey, this is a beaver website, why should I care?” But wolves are the single most important helper that beavers have in restoring streams. See, the beavers chew the willow, to make their dams, and the trees coppice, but before the beavers can get back to eat them, ungulates like deer and elk and cows come chomp the shoots. And that’s not good for creek restoration.

But when we have a healthy wolf pack in residence, it forces the deer and elk (and cows) to stay away from the open creeks and they browse more cautiously, meaning that the willow gets a chance to grow up and the beavers get to fell and feed and build more dams and save more water.

And California reaps the benefits. Happy wolf-day, California!


Nuts for Scottish Beavers

Posted by heidi08 On August - 17 - 2015Comments Off

Rhona Forrester

CaptureSo ITV is the Un-BBC in the UK with slightly more hip programming. “Nature nuts” stars a famous gay (they say ‘camp’) comedian traipsing about the country looking for and learning about wildlife. In the most recent episode he went to Scotland and visited Bob Smith of the Free Tay Beaver group.  Bob brought him by canoe out to the beavers he’s been following, and the host brought along a camera man from David Attenborough to catch the first signs of the kits.  Here they are discussing strategy. The host is on the stump throne, and Bob is seated with the canoe paddle.Of course I wanted to watch it right away, but the cruelty of nationality forbade me. It’s online there but it tells you you need to be in the UK to partake. Sigh. I knocked desperately on a few doors and begged as heartily as I could and was kindly sent a copy by a fairy godmother who warned me against sharing. I thanked my lucky stars and settled down for the treat. And what a treat! Beautiful photography, fun interactions and a beaver setting to envy. Of course the camerman captured the new kit and of COURSE I wept to see him swimming peacefully along in such pristine habitat. I assume this will be available outside the UK eventually and I will make sure to post it here, because you need to see it!


Rhona Forrester

Some of the folks from the free Tay beaver group turned out for the shoot, you can see Paul Ramsay in the middle there. Everyone was excited by the final episode, which you can see by looking at the Save the Free Beavers of the River Tay facebook page.

The habitat is so different from ours I was gripped with envy I can’t fully describe. A huge traditional lodge of sticks and a hanging forest to forage. No trash or homeless. And a beautiful pond to canoe across and see the beavers from their element.


Rhona Forrester

I’m so proud of what Scotland has accomplished this last decade. They overturned centuries of beaver ignorance and pushed their ecosystem value onto center stage. Both with the formal trial and the informal wild beavers. They generated interest and appreciation for a species that hadn’t been seen since the 1600′s. It has helped beavers not just in the UK but in every country by changing, informing and enriching the ecological conversation.

I’m especially honored to have met Paul and Louise and played a very small part in helping them coordinate support and generate media attention. I just read this morning that Paul is currently working on a book, which I, for one, cannot WAIT to read!  Their beaver work is truly and EPIC TAIL.


Mum & Kit on the Ericht: Bob Beaver-Boy Smith

Beaver Roulette

Posted by heidi08 On August - 13 - 2015Comments Off

Someone notified us about another dead beaver yesterday morning. It was floating by the creek monkey and it was not a kit. Jon haled it out and thought it was Junior or the smaller two year old. I talked to Jennifer from the Bay Area News group while we were getting ready to drive to UCD. But when KGO wanted an interview but I told them things were too hectic. Fortunately the very responsive veterinarian at CDFW worked over time to talk to the media, and print me out the paperwork so we could bring the beaver straight to Davis.

 Beloved Martinez beaver babies turning up dead

Heidi Perryman, executive director of the group Worth a Dam, said the California Department of Fish and Game is examining a dead kit euthanized last month at the Lindsay Wildlife Rehabilitation Hospital in Walnut Creek. State officials have also analyzed a water sample but not yet determined a cause of death.

We didn’t find anything abnormal when looking at the carcass,” said Deana Clifford, a research scientist and wildlife veterinarian with the Department of Fish and Game.

Perryman said the carcass of  yesterdays beaver  appears to be that of either a 35-pound yearling born last year or a 2-year-old. She had hoped the dead animal photographed by Martinez resident Brendon Chapman on Tuesday was the missing fourth kit and not one of the five older beavers who call the creek home. They include an adult male and female, two 2-year olds and the yearling.

The first dead kit was found July 7. Guthrum Purdin, director of veterinary services at the Lindsay hospital, examined a different beaver kit brought in July 8.

 The beaver he saw was practically comatose and taking only occasional gasps of air when it arrived. The veterinarian initially suspected contact with a poisonous substance and euthanized it to shorten its suffering. While kits can be less hardy than adults, young beavers are “pretty durable” animals, Purdin said.

“The deaths were fairly acute and happened quickly and made me suspicious of a toxin exposure,” he said.

State veterinarians have ruled out drought and algae-related toxins, including anatoxin-a, in both the beaver and the creek water, and did not find rabies. Researchers also tested the kit’s brain for high sodium levels after finding a bacteria normally in seawater during a toxicology test. They didn’t find any abnormalities.

Officials have also ruled out tularemia, an infectious disease commonly found in rodents. The disease can cause small die-offs such as the one in Alhambra Creek. It killed a few beavers near Lake Tahoe a few years ago. No other beaver die-offs have been reported in the state so far this year.

“It’s not clear what caused the death of that kit at this point in time,” Clifford said.

In addition to reducing Martinez’s small but beloved beaver population, the die-off holds possibly larger implications.

“(The beavers are) right in our water source, so they tend to be a good marker species,” Purdin said. “If there’s a problem, they can point the way where to look.”

Given how distressing the whole thing is the article came out pretty accurate and informative. I’m so glad Guthrum and Deana were willing to talk to Jennifer too. I was pretty upset but I tried not to babble. (Not to mention that it was one of the worst possible birthday’s ever for poor Jon.) As it is, the article reads as a nice reminder that beavers are in OUR watershed and if something happens to them it might happen to us next.

We went down last night and saw two (mom and dad?) near the footbridge. The dam needed repairs and the level was down a bit. They looked fine, but we are learning that sometimes everything is not the way it appears. I’ll keep you posted on anything we learn. In the meantime I’m hopeful they’ll be more concerned about this recent death and press on with a little more energy so we can get answers.

In the mean time we all need cheering up so here’s a fun article from Oregon.

AR-150819998.jpg&MaxW=600The Beaver Man

We started talking. Five minutes into our conversation, I knew I had met the world’s most passionate spiritual advocate for beavers and walked into one of the best Oregon stories of my life.

His name was James Murphy and he owned a romping tan lab named Marley. He had a house in outer southeast Portland but hated Portland now and rarely went back. He was a wandering man of the North Oregon Coast now, evangelizing for the protection of beavers.

James riffed with the most interesting and unconventional grammar, and I thought it the most beautiful stream-of-conscious speechifying I’d heard in years. Who cares if it was almost impossible to quote him properly? Beavers don’t care about conventional grammar or proper quoting! They just want to be left alone, eat wood, build dams, create marshes and salmon rearing habitat, and play their antediluvian role in the ecology of healthy watersheds. James understood this perfectly and wanted to educate others about the benefits of this maligned animal that was once nearly hunted to extinction because of a fashion trend.

This crusade began a year ago after angels told him to take care of animals. “I’ve known for years about beavers,” said James, “and it was time to start doing something for them. I had to.”

James scouts the local creeks, wetlands and rivers for signs of beaver activity and also imagines their return to places where they are needed to restore damaged watersheds. He’s documenting beavers and beaver dams in some way that doesn’t involve conventional scientific documentation. He’s seeking, finding, observing, and rhapsodizing. James is a “naturalist” of the very old school.

At one point in our conversation, James broke out a little book with a cork-like cover. “It’s my Beaver Book,” he said, handing it to me. He told me he’s collecting names, telephone numbers and email addresses of people who will go to Washington D.C. and lobby for the protection of beavers. I happily signed it and provided my contact information. I was surprised by how many names were in there. He’s been, well, busy as a beaver, and people are responding.

I’m not sure what I love most about this article: James unbridled and infectious enthusiasm for beavers, the authors puzzled fascination with him, the fact that we never met and I don’t know anyone who knows him, or the  painted truck. This is the kind of wildcard that makes any beaver hand more fun to play. I love the idea that he is out looking for local beavers in creeks and spreading the gospel. I love his book with the names of people who are willing to go to Washington.

(But honestly, if the author thinks James is the world’s most “Passionate beaver advocate” – we should really talk.)

Higher latitudes and better attitudes

Posted by heidi08 On August - 11 - 2015Comments Off

Yesterday’s labor of love. I wanted to send this to our UK beaver friends. Simon Jones of the Scottish beaver trial wrote back this morning that it was such fun he was sending it to their educational department because he thought it would be a great idea for a classroom activity!

Just imagine, the children  of Scotland learning about beavers while doing an art project from Martinez!

In the meantime there’s lots to catch up on, as this article from Prince Edward Island shows us that opinions can thaw even in the coldest of climes.

Beaver killed on Brownsmill Road

Debbie Miller is furious to learn that a beaver on Brownsmill Road near her Merigomish home was killed as a result of a permit given to the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal.

The beaver was one of two that had a dam in the area, but a little over week ago on Aug. 2 she found it dead. She called to report it to Department of Natural Resources and was told it had been shot. She said the beaver’s dam had actually been destroyed the week of July 20. The following week she saw someone throwing something into the water.

Keith MacDonald , who is acting area manager for the Department of Transportation confirmed that his department had applied for a permit from the DNR and then hired someone to get rid of the beavers because they had blocked off a double culvert in the area. He said the DOT often have to deal with beavers because of their tendency to cause destruction to infrastructure. He said all the proper procedures of going through DNR were followed and the trapper chosen from an approved list.

Miller does not believe that the deaths were truly necessary, however.

 “If anyone states that killing the beavers had to be done because they were being destructive, well they did not do any proper assessment of the area,” said Miller.

 She said eroded banks in the area were from streams of water coming down the road due to lack of ditching, not because of the beavers. She said the beavers had developed a nice little wetland that was used by other animals, including ducks.

Beaver advocacy is in SUCH early days in this region that there is no mention of a flow device to protect the culvert instead. She even concedes that it would be okay to kill large populations but notes that in this case it was unnecessary because “There were only two!” Never mind, PEI is a tough area for beavers. The island insisted for years that they weren’t present historically and forced our own Rickipedia to do a little research and prove them wrong. They still regularly kill beavers to protect fish and this practice inspired one of my all-time favorite graphics, which I’m still delighted with.

anne-trappingI’m happy that Debbie is starting the conversation and upset about trapping. Maybe she will even find out that the culvert can be easily protected without dead beavers! Once she believes it she can make others believe it. All advocacy starts with compassion, remember.

Brock Dolman of OAEC sent this yesterday, and I thought you’d want to see it too.