Archive for the ‘Friends of Martinez Beavers’ Category

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.


Kits dislocated by Hurricane Harvey: Wildlife Center of Texas

My father ’tis of thee

Posted by heidi08 On September - 5 - 2017Comments Off on My father ’tis of thee

Ian medalsAs most of you know, this wonderful creation was the painstaking product of then 12 year old Ian Timothy [Boone] and finished in 2008.  The joyful banjo music in the background was written and performed by his father an accomplished musician, Joel Timothy. Ian went on to win 6 scholastic medals and graduate with honors.  We became friends for obvious reasons and when he applied to the Disney school of animation I wrote him a letter of recommendation. He was one of only 15 students to be accepted.

I met them all in Martinez when the family made a stop on their way to a film festival. Both parents seemed happy and appropriately proud of their son. But you never really knoKentucky meets Californiaw what the inside of people’s lives are like.  After Ian went to college his parents divorced and his mother, Karen Boone (a gifted graphic artist in her own right) wrote to tell me that Joel was a struggling alcoholic who she couldn’t stay with anymore. She thought maybe it had been hard on her son who had focused on the stop motion filmaking as a way to cope.

(I was shocked, and remember that I couldn’t help thinking like a therapist that maybe his father hadn’t been able to sustain sobriety by taking things one day at a time, so Ian took things one moment at a time.)

IMG_6536After the divorce, Ian cut ties with his father and took his mother’s name, so he’s now Ian Boone.  Ian never spoke about the divorce or the drinking with me. But we remained friends. He came to our festival last year and told me that he had left college early and started working for Bix Pix in Hollywood, working on the Tumble leaf series. He had not resumed contact with his father. And he had been learning to play the banjo.

Yesterday he posted on Facebook that his father had died over the weekend. I hope he doesn’t mind that I’m sharing it here. It really touched me and I thought it should be shared.

I just wanted to let everyone know, especially people in Louisville, that my dad, Joel Timothy died early Saturday morning, in Chestertown, Maryland. He had been sick for a while and in June was diagnosed with colon cancer that was expected to be treatable. But between the chemo, radiation, and already being very weak, he took a turn for the worse last week. He was hospitalized in intensive care. By the time I got there he was on oxygen and mostly unresponsive.

Our relationship for the last several years was not good. There were a lot of different sides to him, he struggled with alcoholism and he did and said a lot of horrible things. But there are still a lot of good memories, he was an immensely talented musician and creative mind, as a storyteller and performer. He had a short stature but big personality and always a way to make people laugh. I wouldn’t have had the same start in animation without his help with Beaver Creek, and I think he tried to support me in the best ways that he knew how.

Fathers are complicated and somehow keep being so even after they die. My heart goes out to Ian who was emotionally courageous to speak of this publicly and  revisit the man who had given him his childhood and at the same time partly taken it away. In reading the countless comments by his fellow musicians it is clear that Joel was a gifted, fulsome, troubled soul. Even though his life is over, I’m sure Ian’s journey with him is just beginning.  I am constantly surprised by how much my own father has continued changing after his death, at least in my own heart where it matters most to me.

R.I.P. Beaver Creek.

Beaver Creation Myth

Posted by heidi08 On August - 17 - 2017Comments Off on Beaver Creation Myth

Jules Howard is a freelance zoologist and author from the UK. His article in the guardian introduces a whimsical creation myth about beavers that is near and dear to my heart. It also answers the common question ‘why do beavers build dams?’. Get your coffee cup and settle in because the article is so good I’m posting it all.

Why do beavers build dams? You asked Google – here’s the answer

Here is a beaver-based creation myth. It begins thus. God so loved the world that He seeded it with diligent rodents able to do the hard work of habitat creation – damming streams and creating ponds and lakes in which amphibian larvae thrived, providing food for water beetles and dragonfly nymphs and a host of other invertebrates which fed the fish that early humans consumed. God gave us beavers to make the landscapes upon which we depended – that’s the myth I want you to imagine for the sake of this piece.

Ohhh! Was that a marriage proposal? If it was you had me at ‘habitat creation’. Sigh.

It goes on. My creation myth believes that the wetlands that these early creatures created washed away and purified humanity’s poisons. And that these holy creatures, The Beavers, saved us from Biblical floods by slowing the flow rate of sudden aggregations of water. Again and again, The Beavers saved us, but in time, predictably, things changed. We humans came to turn our backs on them. We forgot about Beavers, and God was not pleased about humankind’s insolence.

Like all good creation myths, this one features a gruesome twist. Like the rosy apple that hung from the tree in the Garden of Eden, in my creation myth God put things on beavers to tempt those first people into sinning. He covered them with thick fur that they would desire as clothing. He put their testicles on the inside, rather than the outside, and gave these mystical and elusive gonads properties that may (or may not) have provided medicinal properties. And, lastly, there beneath their tails, God hung a pair of anal glands that produced a smelly substance that the early humans found irresistible. Those early humans made a choice. They couldn’t help themselves. They committed original sin.

Upon discovering their unusual glands and delightfully thick fur we humans slaughtered them in their millions to make top hats and well-known perfumes that still sell today courtesy of a deft hint of anal glands that makes them more appealing than the competition. (Also ice-cream flavouring, but that’s another story). The rest, as they say, is history.

In less than 200 years, the North American beaver went from 90 million to between 10-15 million. In Europe and Asia, just 1,200 beavers remained by 1900. The beavers died, almost totally exterminated. In time, we forgot that they had ever been here.

How much are you loving Mr. Howard’s creation myth? I’m having a tingly feeling and smoking a cigarette. Wait, wasn’t he going to answer a question at some point?

The simple answer is that beavers build dams to deepen watercourses, so that they can create “lodges” that can be better defended from modern predators including bears, wildcats, otters and other mammalian forebears with whom the beavers shared prehistory. It seems that deep water is particularly important to beavers. Lakes and ponds allow for a kind of floating structure of sticks and branches that can be accessed from a secret hole beneath, a key real-estate feature that reduces the need for terrestrial entrances through which land-based predators can climb. Upon finding shallow watercourses, colonising beavers immediately begin damming, creating canals along which trunks and branches can be dragged along to add to this, their anti-predator superstructure. In these lodges, beavers rear their young and see out winter, safe and sound.

Why and how they hit upon this behaviour is of interest to those who study beavers and their family members, the Castoridae (nearly all of whom are now extinct). It may be an example of a behavioural trait that has “piggy-backed” upon an appetite for bark-gnawing. One imagines that their semi-aquatic ancestors were tree-gnawers that used their spoils for building riverside burrows, with some accidentally hitting upon damming rivers. The truth is we don’t yet know. The creation myth eroded, now a new mystery is being gradually exposed based by those that study comparative anatomy, fossils and DNA.

Got that? Beavers build dams to create deep water that protects their lodges. I especially like thinking about all the kinds of castoridae that used to exist. Surrounded by beaver cousins! What an interesting world that must have been!

One thing is clear. Our original sins now washed away by rushing floodwaters, we have an opportunity to bring beavers back into our lives. In recent years, almost every European country has made steps to re-introduce and restore their wild beaver populations. In Scotland, an introduced population of beavers is doing well – indeed, it is now considered a protected native species. There is a good chance that a small breeding population in England may be granted the same status.

After almost killing them off entirely, we may yet redeem ourselves from the sins of our ancestors. How delicious, therefore, that we should free ourselves from damnation by becoming, once more, a dam-nation.

Oh, that was awesome, Jules. I adore your creation myth, but I’m not sure it’s a myth at all. I truly believe beavers WERE put on this earth to give us habitat and store water and that when we reject them we are turning down a gift from the divine. But that’s just me.  I know the world is full of athiests. I just had to look at my Sacred center video from So long ago. There wasn’t a part of making this video that wasn’t packed with wonder and curiosity. In fact in those days I was watching the beavers on Escobar street and had never even been as far as the dam!
I’m sure you want to know more about Jules. I’ll leave you with his TED talk just so you can see what a fine story teller he is. Let’s be thankful that he chose to tell one about beavers.