Beaver Pioneers

   Posted by heidi08 On January - 21 - 2015Comments Off

Nice find this morning from Rickipedia who came across this article from 1983 showing that human settlements were chosen because of beaver landscaping. I would follow where the beaver colonized, wouldn’t you? They proposed that beaver were essential in determining not only water course, but deforestation that allowed both farming and rancing to begin. Read full article here:

Homo sapiens or Castor fiber?

This article shows how environmental evidence for European stone age fore st clearance may require  re-interpretation, and that change need not be attributed only to climate or man. Observations in North America and Europe show the beaver to be a significant agent of land transformation. The authors suggest that both hunters and farmers took advantage of the opportunities thus presented, and a few hints are provided about their detection and the implications for the Mesolithic and early Neolithic of north-western Europe. 


Now something really delightful to mark your day. I just wish we were all invited to the party of Mr. Knuckles. But who knows? What do you think they’ll do with this invention after the party’s over? How about a tax deductible donation to a certain beaver festival?

Stars, indie films and a mechanical beaver: What to watch for at the Sundance Film Festival

And Canadian coat company Moose Knuckles is hosting a party where guests are invited to ride a mechanical beaver. (If that doesn’t scream photo op…)mb-001Ooh, Scary.

A final word of welcome to stalwart beaver hero Rusty Cohn from Napa who generously volunteered to learn in the following weeks how to post photos and articles on the website to take over for me during the conference, when I’ll be sans wifi.  It’s harder than you might think to do this every morning, but Rusty has some great stuff to share and I know you’ll be in good hands. Just giving you a heads up in case he decides to start practicing any time soon.

Thanks Rusty!

Did someone say they found a GIANT beaver?

   Posted by heidi08 On January - 20 - 2015Comments Off

Stanley Park’s Lost Lagoon beaver ‘friend’ urged to stop

Someone has been removing the wire mesh that protects trees in Vancouver’s Stanley Park from beavers, and the Stanley Park Ecology Society would like them to stop.

 The society uses the mesh to protect large trees near Lost Lagoon, so they won’t be gnawed down by the busy pair of beavers that live there.

 ”The idea is there’s no way that a beaver, as industrious as they are, would be able to take that [wire mesh] down,” said Brian Titaro, conservation technician with the Stanley Park Ecology Society.

The Stanley Park Ecology Society’s Brian Titaro shows the wire mesh used to protect larger trees at Lost Lagoon from beaver teeth. (Chris Corday/CBC)

 But some human appears to be trying to help out the beavers, said Titaro. The ecology society is regularly finding the wire tree-protectors — which are installed using pliers — removed and dumped in the water, where other wildlife can get stuck in the mesh.

Ahhh, this story sounds very familiar! How many times has Jon hauled down to painstakingly wrap a tree only to have the wire removed and tossed down stream by some well meaning passers-by? There needs to be a waterproof sign on all these fences that say “This wire is protecting our beavers’ lives! We love them and you should too!” Because I don’t care where you live, 10 chewed trees in any park means 5 dead beavers down the road.  It’s inevitable.

Onto BIGGER stories. No really, I mean it this time. AP isn’t exaggerating at all.

7ea763c3fae97b76e97ea5ea9626c970da9833347a05ae691fc48360412d6fc2Sweden’s Luleå carves spot for giant beaver

The icy artwork is both a sculpture designed to be admired by visitors and an attraction for children – each animal includes a giant slide each year so that children can play on it.

Asked why he felt his work was so popular, Eglund told The Local on Tuesday that it was because it was “both art and a playground”.

 The local tourist office was more enthusiastic about the artwork.

 ”It’s such a nice tradition,” said Karin Åberg, communications manager for Visit Luleå.

 ”The sculpture is something that helps people who are living in Luleå to appreciate winter time and every year it is attracting more and more visitors.”

My goodness! How much would you love THAT at the beaver festival! Sweden is awesome. That picture alone makes me weak in the knees. And the idea that it has a slide for children to play on is stunning! I’m sending this to Bob Rust and FRo right now. Maybe I can contaminate them with ideas,

Onto our own not-so-modest festival ideas. How much do you want one of these? I learned this technique from a youtube video. Did I mention the internet is amazing?

new tail

Keystone Species tail project: Wildlife Pins by Mark Poulin.

Nativity Parade in UK?

   Posted by heidi08 On January - 19 - 2015Comments Off

Beavers may get UK citizenship

BEAVERS could be declared a native British animal — for the first time in 400 years — after scientists found that at least three populations have become established in rivers from Scotland to Devon.

 The biggest group of 150 animals live on the Tay, where, as in the River Otter in Devon, they have become a tourist attraction. Both are thought to have been illegal reintroductions.  Another population is also growing at Knapdale in Scotland — the only one based on licensed releases.

The government had planned to classify beavers as non-natives under the Infrastructure Bill. This would have made future unlicensed releases illegal and prevented beavers from gaining protection in areas where they have become established.

Now Defra, the environment ministry, has said it will consider declaring them natives, subject to a study being carried out on the Knapdale population’s integration with other land uses.

What? DEFRA might call beavers native? After all of England spent centuries of extinction following centuries of economic harassment, it might at last recognize their rightful place? Be still my heart!

Oh right, it already is.

Wait, are beavers native to the United Kingdom. This is from the Aberdeen Bestiary, 12th century AD. The illuminated manuscript descended from the Royal Library of Henry the VIII to the university on the east highlands of Scotland.

CaptureDe castore. Est animal quod dicitur castor mansuetum nimis, cuius testiculi medicine sunt aptissimi, de quo dicit Phisiologus, quia cum vena torem se insequentem cog novit, morsu testiculos sibi abscidit, et in faciem vena toris eos proicit et sic fugiens  evadit.

Of the beaver There is an animal called the beaver, which is extremely gentle; its testicles are highly suitable for medicine. Physiologus says of it that, when it knows that a hunter is pursuing it, it bites off its testicles and throws them in the hunter’s face and, taking flight, escapes.

Laying aside the obvious impossibility of this fanciful account, (Given the fondness males of any species seem to feel for their testicles) we can at least establish that the United Kingdom once had access to beavers, because they were, in fact, native, and if something WAS native, that means it IS native, and you dam well know it, so stop trying to pretend like it’s a big decision or that you’re being generous by calling it native. It’s as native as humans are on British soil, or more so I’d wager if we were looking at the fossil record.

So there.

CaptureFur- Bearer Defender’s Interview with Michael Runtz, author and photographer of Dam Builders.

Now THAT’S a giant beaver!

   Posted by heidi08 On January - 18 - 2015Comments Off

MCCD worker finds prehistoric giant beaver tooth outside Marengo

240zulnw2hamd6sqg7ymqipceey7po2The McHenry County Conservation District maintenance worker was out with a crew not long before Christmas, walking through a field in the nearly 3,000-acre Kishwaukee Corridor near Marengo and looking for concrete foundations of long-gone buildings.

 Parpart’s unexpected discovery sat in the maintenance shop for a few days, everyone taking a stab at guessing what it could be. A tusk – maybe from a mammoth? A Tyrannosaurus rex bone? A cow bone?

Eventually, it made its way to the Illinois State Museum where JJ Saunders, a curator and chairman of the museum’s geology department, identified it as a fossilized giant beaver incisor, a prehistoric beaver that was about 8 feet long from tail to snout.

 The incisor likely came from the right side of the beaver’s lower jaw, Saunders said in a news release.

 “The giant beaver was the largest Pleistocene rodent in North America,” Saunders said. “It was an animal the size of a black bear inhabiting lakes and ponds bordered by swamps. We know from its teeth that the giant beaver did not fell trees, and thus did not construct dams to modify stream courses.”

faceWhat a beautiful find! You can’t help but think that this AP story and the bogus Arizona AP story of the giant beaver got merged in some key folks minds. I’m still getting headlines of GIANT BEAVER found as joggers watched in awe. A beaver the size of a bear is giant. This tusk makes me think of that old beaver family crest from Germany, which we always thought of as more artistic than correct. Now I realize it’s no more wrong than our cartoons of their huge top buck teeth, and given this discovery, actually fairly representative.

Is it just me? Or is this medieval crest beautiful?

crest boar-beaver

Southern Germany 1450

The good, the bad, and the unbelievable.

   Posted by heidi08 On January - 17 - 2015Comments Off

This time I didn’t say it…

The Beaver: the most powerful animal in the world

The Beaver: the most powerful animal in the world, takes the first plunge in the 2015 Winter Speaker Series hosted by the Hastings Stewardship Council and sponsored by the Hastings Prince Edward Land Trust. Join acclaimed naturalist Michael Runtz on January 29 in Ivanhoe for an entertaining and visually stunning presentation. Beavers are known as either annoying pests or ecosystem heroes. Behind this dual reputation lies an animal that deserves more than just the status of “Canada’s National Animal.” Beavers are relentless hydraulic engineers that benefit many animals, plants and humans. Michael Runtz will present insights and images of these remarkable creatures in their natural habitats, based largely on his soon-to-be released book, Dam Builders: the natural history of beavers and their ponds.

Every year, over 2,000 people sign up for Michael’s Natural History course, televised from Carleton University. But nowhere does he feel more at home than in the natural world itself-howling with the elusive wolf, digging out salamanders from under rotting logs, or luring rutting moose with his skillful calls. In The Beaver: the most powerful animal in the world, Michael’s photographs disclose a world seldom seen: the intimate habitat of the beaver.

Ooh I want to be there! Don’t you? I guess it’s a little far to drive to Ottawa for a Thursday night lecture, but hopefully some of our beaver friends can attend.  It’s not thaaaaaaaat far from New York or Vermont, so maybe one of you can hop over and tell us all about it?

In the mean time the world is firmly committed to its stupidity because now the Arizona misfire has been picked up by the AP and ABC:

 Giant Beaver Captured at Phoenix-Area Lake

A giant beaver is on the mend after getting captured near a Phoenix-area lake this week.

 The beaver drew the attention of joggers and onlookers in recent weeks at Tempe Town Lake because of its more than 40-pound size. Wildlife workers captured the animal with a net this week and took it to the Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center, where the beaver will stay until it gets healthy again and is released back into the wild. The animal was lethargic when it came in.

SERIOUSLY? This is an Associated Press story now? Castoroides in Arizona? No wonder one reads political stories that are completely BOGUS when the unexamined beaver lie can withstand every temptation to factcheck. Let me make this simple for you. Just because joggers are surprised doesn’t mean that the facts are surprising. Passers-by are not beaver experts. If a team of wildlife biologists seem surprised then you MIGHT be onto something,


CaptureOnto the surprising. In case any one wonders about our meeting yesterday email me for a full report. In summary I will just say that it went really well, that there were three times as many professionals as I expected, that Jeff and Jack contributed mightily, and that everyone was eager to get copies of the beaver manual I had prepared.

Oh and the California Department of Fish And Wildlife region 2 now has plenty of beaver stickers.

stickerFinally, somber condolences to our brave beaver friends in Napa who discovered a dead beaver yesterday. Most likely their remaining kit.  Worth A Dam and all Martinez knows how they feel and we offer sympathies and our warmest hopes that the coming spring brings little flat-tailed new life to the beaver pond. It’s a hard life for beavers. And the people who watch them.

Beaver Literacy

   Posted by heidi08 On January - 16 - 2015Comments Off

CaptureThe Watershed Wisdom of the Beaver

You know what a stream looks like. It has a pair of steep banks that have been scoured by shifting currents, exposing streaks and lenses of rock and old sediment. At the bottom of this gully—ten to fifty feet down—the water rushes past, and you can hear the click of tumbling rocks as they are jostled downstream. The swift waters etch soil from first one bank, then the other as the stream twists restlessly in its bed. In flood season, the water runs fast and brown with a burden of soil carried ceaselessly from headwaters to the sea. At flood, instead of the soft click of rocks, you can hear the crack and thump of great boulders being hauled oceanward. In the dryness of late summer, however, a stream is an algae-choked trickle, skirted by a few tepid puddles among the exposed cobbles and sand of its bed. These are the sights and sounds of a contemporary stream.

 You don’t know what a stream looks like. A natural North American stream is not a single, deeply eroded gully, but a series of broad pools, as many as fifteen per mile, stitched together by short stretches of shallow, braided channels. The banks drop no more than a foot or two to water, and often there are no true banks, only a soft gradation from lush meadow to marsh to slow open water. If soil washes down from the steep headwaters in flood season, it is stopped and gathered in the chain of ponds, where it spreads a fertile layer over the earth. In spring the marshes edging the ponds enlarge to hold floodwaters. In late summer they shrink slightly, leaving at their margins a meadow that offers tender browse to wildlife. An untouched river valley usually holds more water than land, spanned by a series of large ponds that step downhill in a shimmering chain. The ponds are ringed by broad expanses of wetland and meadow that swarm with wildlife.

As Bill Mollison has observed, everything gardens. The beaver, however, goes far beyond simple gardening to feats of complex ecosystem transformation. Beaver don’t merely build dams that create ponds. They control the flow of vast amounts of energy and material. With tough incisors and instinct, beavers create a shifting mosaic of moist and dry meadows, wet forests, marshes, bogs, streams, and open water that change the climate, nutrient flow, vegetation, wildlife, hydrology, and even geology of entire watershed

There aren’t very many articles that I want to copy and post on this website from the first declarative sentence to the last dizzying conclusion. This one by Toby Hemenway breaks all prior records. Go read the whole thing and then think very seriously about what America did to it’s streams and pastures by eliminating the beaver.

Beaver choose the gently sloping lower reaches of valleys for their work. A small dam on flat land impounds more water behind it than one on a steep slope, doing the least work to create a large pond. The water that backs up behind the dam saturates the soil beneath it, creating a blend of anaerobic and aerobic pockets, varying with water depth, vegetation, soil type, and distance from the pond edge. Decomposition at the anaerobic sites is slow, preserving organic matter. Dead trees and snags left by the beaver or killed by flooding become home to a wide array of animals and microbes. The structural, biological, and chemical complexity of the region increases.

Vegetation drowned by the pond rots, releasing vast flows of nutrients into the water. The pond bubbles methane into the atmosphere. Erosion caused by the lapping of the expanding upstream shoreline pulls more nutrients into the water. In the pond and downstream from the dam, biomass now surges because of the water’s increased fertility. The growing plants and animals trap these nutrients and begin to cycle them.

 Ecosystems that retain nutrients recover more easily from disturbance than nutrient-losing ones. This means the pond communities and those around it are likely to persist for a long time.

But just as significant are the varied habitats that ring beaver ponds. Upstream and down are open stretches of flowing water, home to stream species. At the pond edges the beaver have created bogs, marshes, wet meadows, and riparian forests. The new wetlands and meadows contain more nutrients than the older uplands, and so support more types and numbers of living beings. Edging the wetlands are dry meadows and woodlands. And beaver meadows are very persistent, because their previous flooding has acidified the soil, helping them resist invasion by shrubs and trees.

series of beaver dams

Toby Hemenway is the author of Gaia’s Garden: A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture, which was awarded the Nautilus Gold Medal in 2011, was named by the Washington Post as one of the ten best gardening books of 2010, and for the last eight years has been the best-selling permaculture book in the world.

Go. Read. It. Seriously. Then pass it on.

Some unexpected rescues

   Posted by heidi08 On January - 15 - 2015Comments Off

44-pound beaver captured at Tempe Town Lake


Click to go to video

Stay tuned for more exciting wildlife break thru’s from AZ Central, like deformed turtle body almost entirely engulfed with shell and 13 foot tall giraffe discovered to be too awkwardly shaped to reach water!   Thank goodness the team was on hand to rescue this little ‘fat mess’. I hope they found something actually WRONG with this beaver if they end up keeping him for a month.

Maybe I’m being too hard on Arizona. Just because we here in Martinez know that 44 pounds is the weight of a subadult, why should they?

Here’s a slightly smarter wildlife rescue from Virgina. Seems a beaver of almost exactly the same size was chewing a tree that fell vertically on his tail and trapped him there.


Between a Tree and a Hard Place

When I got there, I pulled around the corner and saw this small woman just pacing back and forth in front of a large truck; as soon as I pulled in the driveway, she ran up to my window and told me to jump in her truck because she didn’t think that my car could make it through the field without getting stuck. The setting was a wooded hillside, slippery from rain the day before. I parked my car, grabbed my capture gloves, a couple of towels, and my transport crate and off we went. We drove through two fields over to her husband’s truck, where the beaver was trapped under a tree next to the river.

I climbed over a short barbed wire fence and got my first glimpse of what I was up against. First of all, the poor little guy was not so little – the beaver weighed about 45 pounds. Knowing how some beavers grow to nearly twice that weight, I was fairly lucky on that count. Somehow, as this beaver had chewed through a 50-foot tall tree; the tree had “fallen” and landed on the beaver’s tail! The tree was still standing up vertically, about a foot away from the stump and was directly on top of the beaver’s tail, pinning him to the ground.

Poor little beaver! Fortunately for him the rescuer got the neighbor with a tractor to lift the tree so the beaver could be wrapped up in towels and brought to the vet. (If you read the story you’ll understand why I’m grateful his ‘first idea’ didn’t work – pulling straight back with the tractor!) The vet determined that the hardy beaver needed only single suture and was ready to be released the next day. Hurray for Virginia wildlife rescues!

Tomorrow we have a Very Important Meeting with the state agency that issued the most beaver depredation permits in California. Thanks to all our helpers and special thanks to Robin from Napa who got this started. Wish us Luck! But honestly, even if it goes spectacuarly badly, Lord knows it will still be the most informative meeting about beavers they’ve ever had.

Raise your hand if you think Worth A Dam’s meeting with Fish and Game is a strange marriage. Oh and Jean saw two beavers last night at the secondary dam at 5:15, Wishing us good luck?