Because the beaver isn't just an animal; it's an ecosystem!

The Martinez Beavers

Category: stupid solutions


Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.
Robert Frost

The year we bought our house there was such a strange winter that the temperature dropped overnight rapidly and the plaza fountain froze in action. It was beautiful and odd to see but we had no idea how rare it was and we didn’t even own a camera at the time. It was an isolated, unique, unthreatening moment in time that welcomed us to the neighborhood.  I thought of that morning when I watched the horrific news from the east coast ‘bomb cyclone’ this morning which is apparently stretching from Texas to Florida to Boston to Maine. Here’s hoping our friends keep power and stay warm.

In the meantime, it is apparently never so cold that people can’t find it in their hearts to bundle up and be cruel to beavers. This news is from Maryland just south of Baltimore..

Four beavers shot and killed with arrows in Bowie

Bowie resident Matthew C. Perry went out shortly after dawn on New Year’s Day to look at birds. He braved the 16-degree weather to participate in the annual local bird count for the Audubon Society, which strives to keep tabs on the number of species and birds in a particular area.

While Perry and his son, Chris, counted birds, they also came across four dead beavers. They’d been shot by someone wielding a bow and arrow. The rodents remained scattered across the frozen surface of a pond near the Twelve Oaks development near Route 214 and Church Road on Tuesday morning, with the arrows still in them.

“This looked to me like somebody who was either enjoying bloodsport or hated beavers. To be out at this time of the year with a bow and arrow, you’ve got to really want to do it. You’ve got to hate them.”

Ugh. Who ever did this deserves much worse, At 16 degrees those beavers were frozen out of safety and easy target practice for who ever hated them. I guess their freeze conditions must haven been sudden too, otherwise they’d have been holed up for the winter and safe from arrows. I doubt they were shot at night. So some beavers needed something to eat and the door froze shut behind them, leaving them vulnerable. I imagine someone saw them locked out and thought this was their lucky day and ran home to get their weapon. Poor little guys didn’t have a chance.

This sudden freeze is taking so many more lives than we can even imagine. Think of the beavers in Georgia and Florida that never in a million years thought they needed a food cache. Meanwhile our Sierras get no snow and the Thomas fire in Santa Barbara is 92% contained.

But climate change is a hoax I hear.


Piebald Beaver: Alejandro Garcia Rojas

Regular readers might remember that Putah Creek is the site in Winters subject to much controversy. Seems there was lots of wildlife and beavers living happily there when some fish experts came in and said it should be ripped out and restored for the precious salmon. It was also the site where Alejandro Garcia Rojas famously photographed that remarkable piebald beaver. Lots of conversations and a conference even took place. but the powers that be were generally agreed the habitat would be destroyed and the channel moved for its own good – killed to save it, as it were.

Well it seems that the project is ready for phase3 – and its still not any more popular.

Putah Creek restoration — is this what we want?

In a heartbreaking move that will destroy valuable Putah Creek wildlife habitat and eliminate a prime viewing area, construction was initiated this past week on a third project to relocate and narrow the channel of Putah Creek in Winters. Much misinformation has been spread to support this project. The approximate $1 million cost for Phase 3 represents a continuation of the misappropriation of public funds that destroy habitat in the name of restoration.

Salmon favor lower water temperatures. Re-channeling advocates claim channel narrowing and reduction of surface area completed under Phases 1 and 2 resulted in a 0.25°C temperature decrease between 2009 and 2014. However, 75 percent higher water releases in 2014 than 2009 would more than explain this slight temperature decrease. Phase 3 will reduce the surface area by less than half an acre (compared to the 43 acre Lake Solano) while moving the creek away from existing shade trees.

The focus on salmon to obtain grant funds and muster public support is leading to the destruction of habitat for other fish and animal species. The wider, slower section of creek included in Phase 3 hosts several species that are not seen in the narrowed channel, including ducks, herons, egrets, kingfisher, beaver, frogs, and the endangered Western Pond Turtle. This section of the creek includes islands that protect nesting birds and other wildlife from cats, dogs, and people.

What is behind our actions is the desire to see restoration that is based on good science and common sense. We would like to see grant funding applied to restoring and protecting habitat for native species of all kinds. We vigorously oppose the use of heavy earth-moving equipment to scrape the land clean, relocate channels, and compact soil.

Please visit www.FriendsofPutahCreek.org for information on how you can support our efforts.

Ahh brave defenders of Putah creek! I’m so sorry that the worship of the salmon idol continues to plague you. Many crazy decisions get made in his name, but the funny thing is that we all know ONE thing that has been proven time and time again to be very, very good for salmon and you’re ripping out his home and driving him out of the area. Even more funny is that he charges nothing for his engineering. I guess some folk never learn.

Meanwhile here in Martinez, I was working over winter break on the grant application for the activity at this year’s festival. It’s due at the Fish and Wildlife Commission next week, and hopefully they’ll continue to find my invitation to support beaver services irresistible,

This year kids will gather stickers which they can use to ‘build their own beaver pond’. They’ll receive a postcard with an uninhabited beaver pond on oneside (showing above and below the water and designed by the artist who is helping us this year, Amy Gallaher Hall, to match the chalk mural she is making in the center of the plaza)   and this on the other side to explain how it all fits together. They get to fill it all in themselves with the stickers. I just finished this design yesterday.

Pretty dam educational don’t you think?

Build a Beaver Pond – Worth A Dam

You would think that Christmas is the time to relax with your family and not think about beaver troubles for a bit. But if you thought that, you’d be dead wrong. Because on Christmas eve it came to my attention that Port Moody BC had updated their city website to deal with the steady stream of emails they were receiving in protest after their ‘plan’ to empty the culvert of beavers lead to the drowning of a kit in a live trap.

When I settled in to review the changes I found that they had released the blatantly erroneous report from the consultants they hired, AND a very long list of “Questions and Answers” that made it seem like their bogus decision had been the wisest and only thing to do.

Here’s just a little of their justification and misrepresentation. I admit, just looking at it gave  me a total PTSD flashback to the nightmare we faced in Martinez when we first read through the PWA memo our city paid for to justify killing our beavers lo these many years ago. 

I fought off the climbing screams as long as I could but in the corners of my mind I remembered how the PWA hydrology report classified our beaver dam as a ‘concrete weir‘ and how they had said it would reduce the carrying capacity of the creek and cause the city to flood if the beavers weren’t killed right away.

Grr memories.

This report starts out with the same coma-inducing formulas for 10-year versus 100-year flooding that made me have to hit myself in the head repeatedly just to keep my eyes open. But then it quickly got VERY interesting very quickly.

As you can see, it lists among the harm that beavers can cause by naming the damage to the environment and the ‘reduction in fisheries‘.

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

As you know this was the equivalent of raising a red flag at a cranky bull who was trying to enjoy a peaceful Christmas with his family. I just HAD to respond right away. Obviously.

Comments on Technical Memo

The technical memo was wrong on SO many levels. It referred to the beaver home as a ‘nest’. It said the population could grow to 15. It claimed that beavers ruin their homes even in a natural setting by eating up all the available food in 5 years. And the questions and answers were WORSE if that’s even possible.

Everything I’ve heard from the ground there is even more alarming. Poor Judy felt like giving up and moving after everything she’s faced. They are currently only seeing a single beaver who is acting disoriented and coming out in the daytime. She think’s he’s searching for his family. The demons have built themselves a fortress of lies and paid consultants to reinforce their structure.

And it just might work.

I sent my comments to the city and the mayor and the reporter on Christmas eve. Because a girl has to try, right?


Christmas eve-eve has always been my favorite not-exactly holiday. The tree is decorated and the house is merry, but their are usually no huge gatherings or dinners to prepare. It has all of the cheer and none of the responsibility, And you still can look forward to Christmas and not be disappointed it’s over and won’t come again for another 365 days.

Yup, it’s my favorite day. So you can imagine how I felt to discover this news.

I’m sure readers of this website remember Judy. (On duty in Port Moody I once quipped.) Well she wrote me a while ago that Adrien Nelson from Fur Bearer Defenders came out for a site visit. Seems he observed the beavers living in the culvert and using it to store their food cache.

I hardly thought such a thing was possible, but I guess there’s a passage way out of the culvert they inhabit. Because there’s a photo from inside the manhole cover of mom with kits in there. Anyway the city was NOT happy about this use of their special culvert, and wanted the beavers out. Adrien told them how to get them out months ago, but they did nothing all year long until Judy went on winter vacation in Arizona and all hell broke loose the day she left.

Baby beaver killed during Port Moody storm drain clearing

A beaver kit was killed as city crews tried to remove it from a drainage pipe on Saturday, according to a City of Port Moody statement released Wednesday.

“Council and city staff are heartbroken at the tragic loss of this beaver, for which we accept full responsibility,” said Mayor Mike Clay.

“Although removing the beavers and their den from the pipe had to be done to protect the integrity of the storm drains and prevent a serious flooding risk… this process has ended terribly, and there are no words to express our disappointment at this outcome.”

City crews had removed the beaver family and its den from the storm sewer pipe in order to prevent ” a potential blockage that could cause flooding and damage to property in and around Port Moody’s Klahanie neighbourhood.”

Removal effort had begun at the beginning of December and had gone on until this past weekend. Crews tried multiple methods, including a temporary wire mesh screen with a one way door, using beaver scent as an attractant and breaching the beavers’ dam, to lure the beavers out of the pipe.

They were able to remove all of the beavers but a beaver kit kept swimming back into the pipe.

On Friday, crews installed a live trap and a bypass pipe – to keep water levels down – in the pipe in hopes of catching the beaver kit.

However, on Saturday they found that other beavers had dammed the bypass pipe, raising water levels and drowning the beaver kit.

“Unfortunately, the kit was found dead inside the trap, due to the unexpected increase in the water level,” said general manager of engineering and operations Jeff Moi.

“We are deeply saddened by this outcome. It is the opposite of what we had all hoped for.”

There are no words.

Judy returned early from her vacation and the media has been all over this story. I counted four articles about this yesterday, but no one names the consulting form responsible or mentions that the city waited nearly a year to act on this and then acted only once she left the country,

I can’t imagine how I would have felt if one of our kits had been trapped on purpose and drowned for blocking city property. But I sure know what it felt like to lose  kit – and understand the terrible guilty feeling of coming home from some lovely time away to find the city doing something devastating to the beavers in your absence.

Death of young beaver in Port Moody draws call for investigation

The drowning of a young beaver in a Port Moody sewer last weekend is drawing calls for an investigation by a local wildlife group.

The Fur-Bearers, a Vancouver-based fur-bearing animal protection non-profit, is calling what happened “appalling” and said in a statement they want the city to “investigate its beaver management plan and decision-making processes” as a result of the beaver’s death.

According to the city, staff had been working to remove the beavers from a storm-sewer pipe for more than two weeks using several methods, “including a temporary wire mesh screen with a one-way door, using beaver scent as an attractant and breaching the beavers’ dam.”

During that time, the city says they were able to get all of the beavers out of the pipe. The plan was to install a permanent screen over the entrance to the storm drain.

The beavers were left to “rehabilitate” in Pigeon Creek — the stream is mostly culverted but does have more natural, exposed sections in the Klahanie area, which isn’t far from Burrard Inlet — but one of the young beavers, also known as a kit, kept finding a way back into the pipe.

Last Friday, after efforts by city workers to draw the kit out of the pipe were unsuccessful, a “consultant” placed a trap inside the pipe. The city wanted to make sure the beavers remained outside the pipe while the permanent screen was installed.

Workers also installed a bypass pipe through the existing beaver dam, so water would continue to flow and keep the water level in the creek and the pipe low overnight.

The plan was to check the trap Saturday morning. If the beaver wasn’t there, then they assumed it had escaped the pipe altogether. If it was in the trap, it would be released into the stream to rejoin its family once the permanent screen was installed.

But when city staff arrived in the morning, they found the beavers had plugged the bypass pipe, which led to raised water levels in the creek and in the pipe.

“Despite all of our efforts to exclude the last beaver from the pipe safely — which was the desired outcome of everyone involved — unfortunately, the kit was found dead inside the trap, due to the unexpected increase in the water level,” said Jeff Moi, general manager of engineering and operations. “We are deeply saddened by this outcome. It is the opposite of what we had all hoped for.” 

The other beavers were observed in the creek. The city said they will continue to monitor the beavers.

Adrian Nelson: Fur-Bearer Defenders

The Fur-Bearers said some Port Moody residents had asked for them to work with city officials on how best to deal with the beavers living in Pigeon Creek, as they have “extensive experience and success working with municipalities to mitigate and prevent infrastructure concerns stemming from beaver activity.”

According to the group, the city consulted with them in February 2017 about tree protection, but declined their help when it came to the beavers in Pigeon Creek.

“There is absolutely no reason that any of these beavers had to die what I can only imagine was a terrifying death to protect this culvert,” the Fur-Bearers’ Adrian Nelson said in a statement. “We have worked with communities all over British Columbia, Alberta and Ontario, and trained with North America’s leaders and innovators in non-lethal beaver management. It is appalling to me that the City of Port Moody allowed for this to happen.”

According to Nelson, the beavers were “beloved” by the local community. Their presence had “brought the community together, with residents lining up to watch them work on their dens and kits learn to swim.”

So the city turned down the help of Fur bearer Defeders and hired their own ‘consultants’ who usually get paid to kill beavers anyway. They tried putting in an (obviously unprotected) pipe in the dam. And then thought it would be a good idea to set a live trap in the culvert.

And when that little baby (who was a creature of habit and returned home to sleep for the day) he was caught in the trap and couldn’t get free, That night his family went about the job of fixing the dam and their hard work inadvertently drown him.

Judy we are so sorry a story that started so well ended so painfully. I do not think there I know of a single worse story out there. except for the sad one about that onr town who loved its beavers for a decade and one summer watched 4 adorable kits die one after another of an unknown, unstoppable cause, which the experts couldn’t explain, and then lost its yearling, and the rest of then the  beavers moved away,

Deep with the first dead lies London’s daughter,
Robed in the long friends, The grains beyond age,
The dark veins of her mother,
Secret by the unmourning water
Of the riding Thames.
After the first death, there is no other.

Dylan Thomas

Dearest Judy, who courage and grace protected these beavers through so much, and shared your delight with your neighbors to help them understand, Martinez doesn’t have an answer for this senseless death, or anything to offer that will make the pain go away. Martinez doesn’t know why this happened.

But we have learned one thing.  Just one thing. An important but incomplete thing: This isn’t the end.

Beaver stories don’t have endings. They have chapters.

2010 beaver Kit – Cheryl Reynolds

 


Newport Minnesota is directly across the Mississippi river from St. Paul. It’s a little over three square miles and about a quarter of that is water. In the last census they reported a population of 3000 and the median income is under 50,000 a year, They apparently know nothing about wrapping trees and can’t see any value to having beavers around. Fortunately they think they know JUST what to do about them.

Beavers busy chewing down trees on city-owned lots in Newport

NEWPORT, Minn. — An unusual culprit is being blamed for wreaking havoc this fall.

The city-owned properties between Cedar Lane and the Mississippi River have seen at least 12 trees up to 75 or 100 feet tall chewed down by beavers, Public Works Superintendent Bruce Hanson said, and many more left half-felled.

“It’s to the point I believe it’s becoming a safety concern,” Hanson said at the Nov. 2 meeting. “So many (trees) are girdled that I believe there’s an urgency to go down there and take care of it. … There are a lot of areas that deal we this … we just haven’t before.”

The city hired trapper Andy Shoemaker to remove the beavers. He said he’s caught six of them so far, and thinks two to four more may be making trouble in the area.

Some of the trees were dropped, but others hung on, possibly ready to drop anytime. Others, when they have been cut down by the beavers, leave “razor-sharp stumps,” Shoemaker said.

One of the critters he trapped weighed 55 pounds. Shoemaker — who’s been trapping for over 45 years — said the largest he said he’s ever caught was 82 pounds. Shoemaker said Newport isn’t the only place dealing with beavers this year, and they seem to be increasing each year. He said it’s possible they came from Fort Snelling, where there is a wildlife reserve that can get overpopulated.

Just for the record Fort Snelling is 11 miles away by land and considerably more by water. It may very well sustain a healthy beaver population, but even if the park closed tomorrow Newport would still get beavers. You know why? Because it is on the Mississippi River and full of water and beavers use that water like highways to get from one place to another.

And let me say, as a woman who has reviewed beaver news for every day for the last ten years, how very very RARE it is for a local paper to run a photo of the dead beavers its trapped to prove it is doing a really, really good job at killing them. Nice choice Woodbury Bulletin. Hiring a trapper and wasting taxpayer funds on a temporary solution is sadly very common, but being ton-deaf enough to post pictures of their work is  not.

Hey I have an idea! Newport could read the writing on the wall. Look at all that water and say, hell we’re always going to get beavers, we better find another solution. You could wrap some of those trees with wire and protect them whether you get beavers or not. And then you could get some local students from the science class at the Junior high to start recording the new species that are using all that coppiced wood.

And saying you have to remove the chewed trees because beavers leave behind razor-sharp tree stumps? Pul-eeze.