Trout Unlimited welcomes Martinez Beavers.

   Posted by heidi08 On April - 11 - 2015Comments Off

Choppa’s brief freedom might be coming to an end. But at least he’ll get outta that cage and in a real habitat it sounds like.

Chapa, the missing beaver, found in Arkansas River

Chapa, the missing beaver, has been found.

Now, caretaker Connie Storrie just has to figure out how to coax him back into captivity.

 Storrie, who has coordinated the search and rescue effort for Chapa since Tuesday, said the beaver was seen in the Arkansas River around 8:45 a.m. Friday. He broke out of his enclosure at the Kansas Wildlife Exhibit in Central Riverside Park sometime Tuesday morning.

She is not disclosing where Chapa was found because she is still trying to coax him out of the water – extra gawkers may spook him, she said.

 A photo that surfaced yesterday of a beaver near Marina Point Apartments, near 21st and Amidon, ended up being a different beaver. The tail on that beaver was too short and the fur too dark, Storrie said.

 How does Storrie know this is the genuine Chapa? She said she called his name while searching the river on Friday and the beaver started swimming toward her.

 As far as she can tell, Chapa is unharmed from his four days in the wild.

 “I haven’t seen him close enough out of the water, but he does look good in the water,” she said.

 Oh man, he was so close! But her concern is kind of endearing.

We’re trying to convince him that he wants to come home,” she said. “He’s still having fun, and he hasn’t run into any trouble yet.

 “If I knew that he would be OK and maybe find a lady friend that could show him the ropes, then that would be great, but I don’t know if that would happen.”

He most likely will not return to Central Riverside Park, she said. She said she has an area where she can keep a close eye on his re-assimilation into beaver life until he will one day be released.

 I was hoping he’d never be found, and it would turn into a kind of ‘spartacus moment’ for all the beavers in Kansas. I guess not.


Now we’re off to Coloma to talk about the relationship between beaver and trout. Wish beavers luck!TroutseekersTrout & Beaver


Beaver on the Run!

   Posted by heidi08 On April - 10 - 2015Comments Off

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player beaver mouth

Choppa is missing! This beaver that was taken as a kit to live in the Kansas zoo has made a dash for it, through the bars, under the fence, over the bank and into the sweet sweet waters of freedom. Apparently visiting children love him, but he’s three years old now, and obviously impatient to begin adult life. Everyone could see he was planning his escape, waiting for that single inattentive moment. Hormones are powerful things. 

(Something tells me he’s ready for a little ‘beaver’ of his own, now.)

I shouldn’t laugh, but it’s kind of irresistible. Look what happened to the weather reporter when he saw the platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player


To be honest, I was quite worried about Choppa‘s story until I saw the inviting waterway he escaped into. As long as he’s not on the highway that beaver will be fine. It is true that parents teach kits a great deal. But not everything. The Nature vs Nurture dilemma is quite evident in beaver life. Beavers that grew up in very wide rivers and never built dams have been known to build them excellently when they are relocated to smaller streams. He’ll figure it out, I think.

The most dangerous part of his life is that the escapee will be located in Kansas.  Don’t go east or (god forbid) south little Choppa. Head west for the beaver safe-houses of Colorado!


Real Solutions in Our State Parks?

   Posted by heidi08 On April - 9 - 2015Comments Off

Beaver barrier build for Earth Day at Thermalito Forebay

OROVILLE >> Earth Day volunteers are needed to help clear invasive plants from around the Thermalito Forebay and protect trees from beavers.

 The California State Parks Foundation will hold a massive Earth Day cleanup at 27 parks throughout the state, including the Thermalito Forebay, part of the Lake Oroville State Recreation Area, on Saturday, April 18, to celebrate Earth Day, which falls on April 22, a Wednesday.

 The main objective is to remove the multiple invasive plant species and develop some new picnic areas around the water, said State Parks Maintenance Chief Shawnee Rose.

 Rose said the trees around those new picnic areas will need to be protected from beavers.

 “They’re not a problem, we just have to protect some of the trees, there’s a balanced environment out there,” she said.

That’s right, you heard it here first. The maintenance chief of the California State Parks actually said out loud that beaver were NOT A PROBLEM. You just need to wrap some trees! No biggy. And she’s looking for volunteer help to do it.  I love Shawnee with a all my heart right now, and I’m hopeful that someone how the training we did for the state parks in Yosemite in 2012 trickled down to the right person. It’s not impossible right?

On to this baffling story from Sudbury Massachusetts just outside Boston where police were called to rescue a baby beaver stuck in a chain link fence. Never mind that it’s a frigid 35 degrees there this morning and baby beavers don’t usually wander off on their own. Mike Callahan says kits are usually born in June there, so I can’t understand why this one would be out unchaperoned in April.


Leave It to the Baby Beaver, Who Got Stuck on Easter

A baby beaver got into a pickle this week in Sudbury, Massachusetts.

Well, we wonder what this little beaver told his family when he was late for Easter dinner.

 On Sunday, shortly before 5 p.m., Sudbury police responded to a call about a baby beaver that got stuck in a chain link fence on Autumn Street.

 Police assisted Boardman Animal Control (the town’s animal contractor), to help free the animal from its trappings.

Authorities do not know if the beaver went straight home.

“The beaver was freed and left the area under its own volition,” said Police Chief Scott Nix.

“The toddler was rescued from the and returned back to the highway where he could find his way.” Sheesh, I just hope you’re wrong and that’s actually a freakishly small disperser. Because I cannot for the life of me understand how a kit would get there. I checked around for wildlife rescues nearby just in case there was an untoward escapee, but there’s nothing likely. A lot of water not far from Autumn street, but no beaver zoo missing an inmate.

Maybe you have a theory or explanation you can share?

Eli sent this yesterday from a sighting in Santa Barbara. I think we all know which way the wind is blowing.

beaver vane


What destiny looks like:

   Posted by heidi08 On April - 8 - 2015Comments Off

‘Bring back beavers’ – call from John Muir Trust

A national wildlife organisation is calling on the Scottish Government to back the reintroduction of beavers to the countryside as a step towards creating a wilder Scotland.

 The John Muir Trust wants the Eurasian beaver to return as a native species following a five-year trial at Knapdale Forest, Argyll, which ended in May 2014.

 Later this year the government’s environment minister will decide whether to reintroduce beavers after considering the results of the trial.

 A series of independent scientific research projects were carried out into the effects of the beavers on the area during the trial, which was led by the Scottish Wildlife Trust and the Royal Zoological Society.

 Beavers were once native to Scotland but died out because of hunting and habitat loss.

 The trust has also launched a new policy statement declaring its support for the principle of “rewilding” large areas of land across the UK.

 Stuart Brooks, trust chief executive, said: “The trust has taken a rewilding approach to the management of its properties for 30 years, long before the term was coined. Rewilding is about intervening to repair damage and restart natural processes – for example, by managing deer to allow native woodlands to regenerate; or by re-introducing missing species, such as beavers, that perform key functions in our ecosystems. That in turn will ultimately allow nature to take its own course and be more resilient in the face of climate change.

 “It is not about excluding people, imposing unwanted policies on rural communities or damaging peoples’ livelihoods. We recognise that rewilding is not suitable everywhere, for example, in areas of high agricultural value.

The John Muir Trust is in Scotland, not Martinez. And guess who used to be a board member? That’s right, Paul Ramsey of the free Tay beaver campaign. Muir grew up in Dunbar Scotland before he came to America with his family and settled in Wisconsin.  He came to Martinez much later where he married, wrote, raised children and  lived the last 25 years of his life. Martinez of the famous beavers. If that isn’t enough of a coincidence, consider the fact that I was invited to be on the John Muir board for the historic site by Igor Skareoff who I met while working on the beaver subcommittee. And was able to show research in the last couple of years proving that the author of the most famous beaver book ever written came to Martinez to visit Muir in 1908.Mills Muir Martinez.jpg

Muir didn’t write about beaver. That shouldn’t surprise you. He probably never saw one. They were trapped out of Scotland 400 years before he was born. And by the time his family got to Wisconsin they were gone as well. When he came to Martinez and did his famous treks to Yosemite, beaver were already nearly extinct in California. But I’m convinced that if he had occasion to spend time watching beaver and their works, he would have been staunch defender.

Earthday 2015John Muir’s birthday is coming up, and we’ll be celebrating it and Earth day at the annual event at his home. You should really plan to stop by and see the amazing exhibits from all over Northern California, and the conservation awards being given to our friends. The keynote speaker is Beth Pratt of the National Wildlife Federation whom you will also know from the festival. And we’ll be doing a beaver booth and art project helping children make totem poles.


awards 2014It should be a dam good time.


When Irish Eyes are smiling on beavers!

   Posted by heidi08 On April - 7 - 2015Comments Off

Screen shot 2015-04-07 at 7.48.55 AM

The State should draw on the expertise of the European beaver to restore river habitats and save the wild salmon, according to a Co Waterford fishery owner.

Nicholas Grubb, who owns the Dromana fishery on the river Blackwater, says recent trials in Scotland show the beaver’s potential for improving river habitats.

“This would be far more economic than continuing to pour vast sums into scientific research while wild salmon stocks continue to decline,” he says.

Mr Grubb points out that the beaver’s well-known dam-building skills and its ability to fell trees improves riverine habitats for other species.

By clearing trees, it allows for more light and creates small ponds where fish, frogs and other species can thrive.


It’s been pointed out that I use this photo very often, but I can’t help it. This is a surprising article about a UK angler. Given all the trouble the salmon fishermen caused in Devon, VERY surprising.  I can’t say I disagree in any way, but the last paragraph sheds some light on the unexpected story.

There is no evidence that the European beaver ever reached Ireland, but its introduction here could be strictly controlled, Mr Grubb says.

Ahh, the cynic in me says that anyone who wants beavers this much has never HAD beavers at all. Which is generally regarded as true. No beavers in Ireland. Ever. I can’t quite bring myself to believe this, because the distance between the northern most part of england and Ireland is only around 15 miles. In fact there has even been talk over the years about building a bridge or a tunnel across the Irish sea. Do you think no beaver ever explored for half a night’s distance?  Really?

Plus there’s this linguistic puzzle:

Ancient people names in Ireland

Gearóid Mac Niocaill’s book Ireland before the Vikings (Gill and Macmillan, 1972) has an interesting passage on the names adopted on the island during the 4th, 5th and early 6th centuries. He refers to “a mosaic of peoples” who are “dimly perceptible” amid the settlements and political changes he has been discussing, and whose names appear in various forms:

ending in –raige (‘the people of’), or as Dál (‘the share of’) orCorco (perhaps ‘seed’) plus a second element, or as a collective noun ending in –ne. Some contain animal names, such as Artraige ‘bear-people’, Osraige ‘deer-people’, Grecraige ‘horse-people’, Dartraige ‘calf-people’, Sordraige ‘boar-people’; others, such as the Ciarraige, the Dubraige and Odraige, have a colour (ciar ‘black’, dub also ‘black’, odor‘dun’) as the first element; others, such as the Cerdraige, seem to have an occupational term as the first element.

 A similar list appears in Macalister’s Ireland in Pre-Celtic Times, which mentions Corcu Bibuir ‘beaver people’, Corcu Cuilend ‘puppy people’, Corcu Oirce ‘pig people’, Corcu Tened, ‘fire people’; Bibraige ‘beaver people’, Boccraige ‘goat people’, Breccrige ‘trout people’, Cattraige ‘cat people’, Cechtrige ‘plough people’, and Cnamrige ‘bone people’.

Begging the question, why were their bibuir people in Ireland if there were no bibuir?

Screen shot 2015-04-07 at 7.43.33 AM

 Oooh and some late breaking cheer from our friend BK who reminded me to look at the calendar.



Re-location, Re-location, Re-location

   Posted by heidi08 On April - 6 - 2015Comments Off


Beavers Star in Tribes’ Fish, Water Conservation Project

SEATTLE – Sometimes moving to a new neighborhood is the best choice for everyone. That’s the theory behind a research project by the Tulalip Tribes of Washington to relocate beaver families. The critters have become a nuisance in the lowlands but in higher elevations, their hard work can benefit the entire Snohomish watershed.

 Ben Dittbrenner is a graduate student of University of Washington Environmental and Forestry Sciences and he’s working with the Tribes to trap and move beavers and study the effects of their dam-building. When less snow is predicted with a changing climate, he says a beaver dam is just the right type of eco-friendly barrier to moderate spring runoff.

 ”It will just flow right down to Puget Sound and it won’t stay in the system for more than a couple days,” says Dittbrenner. “But if we can trap it high up in the watershed, we can keep it there for months and hopefully continue to keep those systems healthier for a longer period of time.”

Great work Washington! (Well moving beavers is better than killing them, but not as good as learning how to coexist. Let’s be clear.) But Ben is working hard on what I think is his dissertation so we’re happy he’s adding to the data pool. I first met Ben at the State of the beaver conference 2013. I was dashing to lunch with Mike Callahan in between our presentations, and a young man we didn’t know asked if he could tag along. Ben was working at that time for the Snohomish  public works, and was one of two folk assigned to fill Jake Jacobsen’s shoes when he retired. Ben and Mike got talking about fish passage in flow devices and eventually he became the site where the new adaptions were tried.  Now he’s hard at work at the School of Environmental Forestry at the University of Washington. The last I heard his dissertation was about using beavers to mitigate climate change, which is a very valuable topic. Great work Ben!

Onto Washington, where one syndicated columnist finds humor in the cherry blossom drama. Tom Purcell is actually writing about beavers in 1999, which. considering they returned in 2007 is a good lesson about  the futility of either trapping or relocation. The story is a bit of a bus-man’s holiday for us here in Martinez – but it’s a fun article anyway. Enjoy!

Purcell: Springtime in Washington, D.C.

The National Cherry Blossom Festival is beginning. The cherry trees, 3,700 of them given to America by the Japanese in 1912, will soon be in full bloom.  It reminds me why Americans are so wary of Washington.

 In the spring of 1999, you see, some culprits had been chopping down cherry trees.  The National Park Service, in a state of high alert for days, finally identified the tree fellers: three beavers, who decided to construct a dam in the Tidal Basin.

 In a normal city, this situation would have been dealt with swiftly. The beavers would have been trapped, transported to another location and released.  In fact, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), not known for common sense solutions, suggested exactly that.

 But Washington is no normal city.

 No sooner was PETA’s idea floated than experts began crawling out of the woodwork. One said it would be tragic to separate the three beavers, since they’re likely from the same family.

 Another said you can’t move beavers to a new colony because the new colony — beavers are Republicans? — would reject the freeloaders. Besides, what’s the point of being a beaver if you don’t have any buddies to plug up storm sewers with?

 A third expert said that, all things considered, the most humane solution would be to euthanize the beavers.  Boy, did the public react negatively to that suggestion.

 This is because beavers are cute. Their cuddly television presence clouded the public’s ability to address the problem rationally.

 The fact is that if beavers looked more like their pointy-nosed cousins, rats, even PETA would have lined the banks of the Tidal Basin with rifles and shotguns to take out the varmints before they felled more beloved trees.

Ha!  Write this down: when people see beavers they are harder to kill. We know it’s true. Certainly true here in Martinez. I hope it’s true everywhere. Of course he points fingers at PETA but there’s no need to single anyone out. Everyone can care about beavers if given the chance. I guess NPS learned part of their lesson from the public response and used their visibility to make a tree mascot for the blessed blossoms. Lemons and lemonade. Hmm, someone is smart.

Now for the completion of long term goals here at beaver central. I always loved the idea of using this in some kind of printing, but it was too weird for a shirt and too detailed for a poster. I loved how the bandana came out on my recent button order from zazzle, so I’m adding historical touch. Doesn’t this make you want to be a beaver researcher in a dusty stone library somewhere?

Cinderella story: Otters & Beavers

   Posted by heidi08 On April - 5 - 2015Comments Off

Bay Area river otters make a comeback

Our friends at the River Otter Ecology Project get a fitting tribute to their hard work and recent publication. Congratulations for making an important difference! They are proud to welcome otter presence back to eight of the nine bay area counties. Since otters are no doubt there because of the recovering fish population and cleaner water, it’s something we should ALL be happy about. We’ve watched ROEP grow from a hint of an idea, to a plan and into a massive success and I couldn’t be happier for them! They are this year’s winner for the John Muir non-profit of the year conservation award, and have always been grand beaver supporters of our efforts and happy to cross pollinate. Check out their new publication and enjoy the recovery for yourself.

I have to admit though, despite all good intentions, when I consider the charmed life otters  lead, with their cheerful beloved antics and their lithe fish-eating ways, I can’t help getting jealous. No city ever makes a decision to kill otters and no one gets mad at them for flooding roads or blocking culverts. In California the otter’s biggest threat is accidental trapping if it wanders into a conibear set for a beaver on purpose. Otters rarely get mistakenly attributed in photographs, and people don’t call them pests. Their comeback inspires a ticker-tape parade, and beavers are greeted with pitchforks and torches. It can feel like beavers are the red-headed step child of the aquatic mammal world. And for that matter, why didn’t our three beaver prevalence papers make the news? The three were monumentally hard work overturning 70 years of thought!

And then I read this:

    “…we strongly recommend attention to their potential role as a keystone species in the San Francisco Bay Area”

Could that be true? I knew of course that sea otters were a keystone species, because of their diet of sea urchins, which otherwise deplete kelp forests, where so much sea life lives. But river otters? Was nothing sacred? Would there be otter keystone charm bracelets next? I went searching around for clues and found this from our old friend Steve Boyle saying it has to do with the role of nutrient exchange:

The river otter has been termed a keystone species because of its role in nutrient transport between aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems, and a sentinel species because of its sensitivity toenvironmental contaminants and other disturbances (Bowyer et al. 2003). As such, river otter presence
should be considered an important element in aquatic and riparian ecosystem health in Region 2 habitats potentially suitable for river otters. The existing and additional management efforts described below should help to make river otter populations across Region 2 more widespread and secure.

Oh alright then. Otter poop it is. (Snark Alert: Can’t really imagine what that bracelet would look like?) I hrmphed off to Rickipedia who reminded me not to worry because the thing that makes beavers wondrous is that in addition to being a keystone species they’re also ecosystem engineers. Which is much, much rarer.

So I think it’s time for new graphics, don’t you?

Ecosystem Engineer

 Now here’s something entirely positive about beavers, Peter Smith’s discussion of their Economic Impact at the recent Scottish Beaver Conference.

And of course, this!