Beavers in a whole new light

   Posted by heidi08 On March - 21 - 2015Comments Off

vanilla_nice_beaver_IG_2Have you been seeing these around? They are advertisements for the new XXX vanilla, promoted as vegan and gluten-free and pointing out that most imitation vanilla’s are made from beaver castoreum, the glands in their nether region. Don’t know if that’s true, but the ads are fun.

I especially liked this one. Look at the feet:


There is more to entertain us today from the LA Times review of the soon-to-be-cult-classic new movie Zombeavers! Sounds like someone let the pun carry him away.

‘Zombeavers,’ about coeds and zombie mutants, is schlocky fun

 ”Zombeavers” is the mutant love child of horror specialist Troma, early Peter Jackson, Japanese kaiju flicks and Canadian television sketch comedies — a film that disgusts, terrifies and tickles in equal measure with grotesque creatures and a sickening sense of humor.

Three self-centered sorority sisters check in to a remote lodge for some girl time after Jenn (Lexi Atkins) discovers a photo of Sam (Hutch Dano) cavorting with another woman. After spending the afternoon disrobing, rubbing sunscreen on one another and checking out a beaver dam, they return to find that their boyfriends are paying a surprise visit. But the dudes aren’t the only uninvited guests for the weekend.

 A barrel of biohazard material from a medical research facility falls off a truck, rolls down the stream and spills the toxin within. To the surprise of no one, it turns beavers into zombies that will chomp on anything in sight.

 Hmm…I think I might skip this one….and honestly, do you really expect me to believe that beavers after a spill are terrifying? These one were adorable! Remember the heroes of Willard’s Bay?

beavers in towls 2

And they said it couldn’t be done…

   Posted by heidi08 On March - 20 - 2015Comments Off

City of Tyler makes plans for Lindsey Park beavers

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The fate of a family of beavers is more certain, but it looks like they’ll have to find a new home. The City of Tyler has come up with a plan to take care of the beavers and the problem.

The beavers are causing problems at Lindsey Park where beaver dams are causing water to back up onto trails making it difficult or impossible for hikers and bicyclists to use. The City of Tyler is consulting with a local biologist. There are two beaver families living at the park. The original mother and father are in one lake and the son and his wife in another.

The plan is to drain the lake where the second family lives using a pipe system. The original family will stay, while their children will be forced to find a new home. The biologist said this is safe for both beaver families because they tend to like their offspring to move far away, anyway.

The city will pay for the project with general maintenance fees and it should cost about $1,500.

Wow! Flow device in Texas? I try not to be a beaver snob. I try not to glance at a beaver story where someone wants to save beavers in Georgia or Arkansas and say, too bad, that will never happen. But I honestly thought that the state of Texas was more likely to enact a vegan holiday than they were to save beavers. Good work Lindsey Park!

Mind you, I’m not sure how they decided that a second family of offspring live in the second lodge, because we’ve had two lodges with one family. But never mind. If they install a flow device they can satisfy the mean-spirited by thinking they chased out one family, solve the problem and STILL save the beavers.

Mark this day on your calendar. It’s important.

Beaver Fishery Enhancement

   Posted by heidi08 On March - 19 - 2015Comments Off

CaptureNature at work for you – Beavers help fish, wildlife and people

Beavers are industrious engineers, constructing dams and lodges for shelter and food storage. Beavers actively modify streams and surrounding woodlands, improving the health of a watershed by creating lush ponds or wetland habitat for a variety of fish and wildlife. By damming water, beavers create a refuge for juvenile and overwintering fish. These ponds provide homes to aquatic invertebrates (fish food), amphibians, reptiles, waterfowl, songbirds, and mammals.

Benefits of Beavers in a Dry Climate

• By building dams, beavers are able to slow spring runoff, reducing the potential for flooding and erosion.

• Beaver dams spread water onto the floodplain and reconnect side channels allowing for greater water storage.

• Beaver ponds provide a continuous water supply that percolates into the ground, recharging aquifers.

• Beaver ponds trap sediment and filter out toxic materials providing cool, clean water for downstream water users.

Beaver-dam-1024x379A pretty wonderful beaver benefit broadcast from the Mid-Columbia Fisheries Enhancement Group. It even ends with a discussion of beaver conflicts and where to go for resolutions. The Mid-Columbia is centered in the middle of Washington State (beaver mecca, from which all wisdom flows) and has good team members like project manager Melissa Babik who heads the heaver relocation project for Yakima that we read about everywhere last fall. I tend to think a river group does serious restoration when they are divided into head, mid and lower. But check out this map for Regional Fisheries Enhancement Groups in Washington. Created by the voters in 1980 it is no wonder why Washington is so good at managing streams and advocating for beavers.

One thing they don’t have is links to us, Beaver Solutions, The Land Trust, the Grand Canyon trust or Joe Wheaton in Utah, Beavers: Wetlands and Wildlife,  or Skip Lisle, to name a few. Don’t you think they should? I’ll see what I can do.

And some good cheer from Tundra sent yesterday by Rickipedia and Art Wolinsky….


The start of something good

   Posted by heidi08 On March - 18 - 2015Comments Off

Long Term Solution Sought For Beaver Problem

The selectboard met Tuesday night and addressed several matters, and the primary two concern the North Prescott Road area. First, the long running issue of beavers making dams near the roadway was addressed. Susan Cloutier and Dave Wattles of the conservation commission said that beavers have been doing so for years on the wetlands just off the road, and that this is causing recurring flooding.

 Recently, the animals have built up two piles of dam material across the street, basically turning it into a one-lane road. There have been similar issues throughout the years, and it has proved hazardous to motorists on several occasions. The Department of Environmental Protection has been notified of the issue, and as simply ripping out dams is illegal, trapping has commenced in the area, with four of the creatures being re-located last week.

 According to Wattles, trapping is at best a short-term solution, as beavers are very resourceful and the area in question connects to Quabbin wetlands, making it highly likely that they will return. ” A more permanent solution is needed,” he said.


Pond Leveler before lowering into the water- Mike Callahan Beaver Solutions

 One such solution was then addressed, which is the possible installation of a “Beaver Deceiver,” a flow device that regulates the water levels of beaver dams. Wattles has been in touch with a company called Beaver Solutions out of Southampton and was quoted the price of $1,500 for a unit at the Prescott site. The price could actually be lower, closer to $1,000, should the town provide pipes and some labor.

 Happy beaver news from a state that often misunderstands beavers. We are thrilled that Prescott is already in touch with Mike, and can’t wait to see the problem solved for the long term. To the untrained eye, one would assume that the state that outlaws conibear traps would understand beavers better than most. But we here know better. The bay state seems to spend half its time bemoaning the unjust will of the voters, and the other half trying to overturn it. Obviously these smart members of the conservation commission know what the word conservation actually means.

 You may have realized this weekend that it’s spring (before spring) and that means it’s time for animal webcams around the world – or as I’ve chosen to call them “Nature Porn”. Yesterday I stumbled upon a camera from Van Nuys CA tracking a beautiful allen’s hummird and her rapidly growing chicks. They are 13 days old today, the awkward teens of hummingbird life. The nest is smaller than a tennis ball and made from plant fibers, moss and spider silk, (Which allows it to stretch as they grow). She comes and feeds them every half hour or so, but if you’re lucky you won’t see anything at all and think it’s boring so you’ll never watch again.  Otherwise you might find yourself cursed with a new hobby. I saw big eyes watching the world for the first time this morning.


Beavers on the radio

   Posted by heidi08 On March - 17 - 2015Comments Off

The interview we were waiting for about beavers and salmon is finally available. And it’s a great one. If the nuts and bolts about how beavers restore salmon habitat are a little fuzzy in your brain, this fantastic interview with Will Harling will straighten them out. Listen to the whole thing, because after you do you’ll be a much better beaver advocate.


Beavers Provide Free Labor To Build Salmon Habitat

Isn’t that JUST what the doctor ordered? Will’s monumental work on streams in the Klamath uncovered the paleo beaver dam that archeologist Chuck James carbon tested back in the day for our first historic prevalence paper. So I’m very thrilled to hear him. I sent congratulatory praise his way and he wrote back that he was sorry he forgot to mention the great work we’re doing (!).


Lookng at our website stats this morning I see we had a huge spike on the 10th and 300 visits from reddit. Not sure what that means, but Jean mentioned last night that she was amazed to see the video I posted of our kits in a push match. She doesn’t think she ever saw it before. So I’ll try and share another golden oldie and see if that makes a ripple. Enjoy.


   Posted by heidi08 On March - 16 - 2015Comments Off

I received an Email this morning from Michael Pollock who says the salmonid conference was abuzz with beavers and people excited about doing more with less. He’s on his way home after a very popular weekend, but didn’t get in until Thursday so he missed my talk. I think I’ll send him one of these….No more standing in front of the closet wondering what to wear on November 1st.

Maybe the back should take a clue from the protestors.
Know beaver; know salmon.
No Beavers; no salmon.
No Bones about it

Wolves, Words and Beavers

   Posted by heidi08 On March - 15 - 2015Comments Off

If one more person sends me the film “How wolves change rivers” I may do something drastic. Local author Jennifer Viegas puts it all in perspective in her smart new article on Wolves and public opinion. Jennifer is a writer for the Discovery Channel and, as it happens, a long-time friend to the Martinez Beavers. Yesterday she sent a recent article where she managed to slip in some of the rich credit beavers deserve.

Wolf Attacks More Myth Than Reality

From fairy tales to phrases like “lone-wolf terrorist,” wolves are vilified in our culture, and yet a fact check finds that a person is more likely to be killed by lightning, ATVs, dogs, cows, and even elevators than by a wolf.

Nevertheless, the myth that wolves pose a major threat to people persists, and at a time when their future is uncertain. Wolves used to be abundant in the United States from coast to coast, but unregulated hunting and habitat loss dramatically reduced their numbers. In 1974, the gray wolf became officially protected by the Endangered Species Act, which rescued the carnivores from the brink of extinction.

Because the presence of wolves affects where grazing animals feed, trees and plants in valleys and gorges at Yellowstone where deer and elk previously had collected are now regenerating, according to the research. Smith and colleagues’ research is documented in the short film “How Wolves Change Rivers.” Songbirds and beavers are returning. Because beavers help to provide habitat for other animals — such as muskrats, ducks, fish, reptiles and amphibians — these animals also got an indirect boost from the reintroduction of wolves.

Ahhh thank you, Jennifer. It’s good to have beaver friends in widely read places. I’m full of compassion for the plight of the wolves, mind you. But they can’t get all the praise in this matter. If there weren’t beavers to restore those rivers the Yellowstone wolves are protecting, all that would happen when wolves threatened browsing elk is the occasional  dead elk. That wouldn’t make a very exciting film or a very rewarding research project, would it?

I heard from Jennifer last night because I sent her this article, which a friend from England sent in my direction. It’s a much richer read then we have time for, but it’s Sunday and honestly, this is the best possible day to go savor it in its entirety. You might want to get the book too. It’s that good. There are a few short sections I wanted to share, to whet your appetite.

Robert Macfarlane on rewilding our language of landscape

The same summer I was on Lewis, a new edition of the Oxford Junior Dictionary was published. A sharp-eyed reader noticed that there had been a culling of words concerning nature. Under pressure, Oxford University Press revealed a list of the entries it no longer felt to be relevant to a modern-day childhood. The deletions included acorn, adder, ash, beech, bluebell, buttercup, catkin, conker, cowslip, cygnet, dandelion, fern, hazel, heather, heron, ivy, kingfisher, lark, mistletoe, nectar, newt, otter, pasture and willow. The words taking their places in the new edition included attachment, block-graph, blog, broadband, bullet-point, celebrity, chatroom, committee, cut-and-paste, MP3 player and voice-mail.

Eight years ago, in the coastal township of Shawbost on the Outer Hebridean island of Lewis, I was given an extraordinary document. It was entitled “Some Lewis Moorland Terms: A Peat Glossary”, and it listed Gaelic words and phrases for aspects of the tawny moorland that fills Lewis’s interior. Reading the glossary, I was amazed by the compressive elegance of its lexis, and its capacity for fine discrimination: a caochan, for instance, is “a slender moor-stream obscured by vegetation such that it is virtually hidden from sight”, while a feadan is “a small stream running from a moorland loch”, and a fèith is “a fine vein-like watercourse running through peat, often dry in the summer”. Other terms were striking for their visual poetry: rionnach maoim means “the shadows cast on the moorland by clouds moving across the sky on a bright and windy day”; èit refers to “the practice of placing quartz stones in streams so that they sparkle in moonlight and thereby attract salmon to them in the late summer and autumn”, and teine biorach is “the flame or will-o’-the-wisp that runs on top of heather when the moor burns during the summer”.

Even if you aren’t immediately enchanted remebering the caochan’s you have passed or wondering if Eit’s really attract salmon, I assume readers of this website will be outraged that the OED for children once removed acorn, otter, and kingfisher! It immediately makes me think of the beaver words we have lost over the years. How thick with experience of them we must have been at one time, and then how nearly fully we extincted them. The phrase ‘beavering away’ for example, was once as common as OMG,  and visible in every single historic paper I reviewed for our prevalence research.  I know I miss a word for the sound kits make. Mewing just doesn’t communicate how purposeful it is. And whining sounds to negative.

Hey, I have an idea. Let’s make up our own beaver lexicon.   We talk about them more than anyone has since the fur trade I’m sure. And I’ve written close to 3000 columns on the subject. Why not make up some words to describe what we’ve seen?