First the good news.
Remember the beaver in Brookside Elementary that had flooded a field and drove the administrators to seek a trapper? They had the sense to wait until the last day of school and warned kids to keep away from the traps. Then some moms and kids found out, got upset about the plan, drew some media attention and made a few administrators upset in the process. Eventually they were able to slow down the decision and shine some light on options. I talked to them about all the resources available and suggested they should really know better, since they were a whopping 7 miles from Michael Pollock’s office.
So far so good. Now the other news. The option the school picked was relocation rather than installing a flow device and letting the beaver stay to educate children about their important roll in restoring creeks. Okay, bring on the Hancock traps.
Remember the beaver that a month ago became a cause célèbre in Lake Forest Park?
It was caught Tuesday, its life spared, and moved to a temporary home at the Tulalip Fish Hatchery near Marysville.
Now the rodent, named “Beatrix” by neighbors, waits for the nonprofit Beavers Northwest that captured her to find her a mate. Then off the pair will go to some creek on Forest Service land along the Highway 2 corridor. Pairing up beavers makes it more likely they’ll stay at that spot.
We are trying to handle this with as much sensitivity as possible,” wrote Pete Rose, Lake Forest Park administrator, in an email.
The answer to the city’s problem came in the form of Ben Dittbrenner, a University of Washington Ph.D. candidate in aquatic ecology, who a couple of years ago co-founded the nonprofit Beavers Northwest.
Okay, right off the bat I need to say that Ben is a good guy. He really admires the work beavers do and understands the ecology. I met him a few years ago at the State of the Beaver Conference when he was working as a watershed steward. He helped Mike Callahan with his salmon adaptions to the flow devices. He has since left to pursue his Ph.D on using beavers to mitigate global warming. He’s a good guy, but he’s no Sherri Tippie. She uses branches as a lure so that the beavers are relaxed and chewing when she releases them. And usually doesn’t bring the media. I’m sure using scent sets them on edge. They are already expecting a fight.
He is very, very enthusiastic about the largest rodent in North America.
“They’re amazing, they’re fascinating,” says Dittbrenner. “They are keystone species, they’re ecosystem engineers.”
Those ponds created by beavers?
Dittbrenner begins the list of why the ponds are great: They remove pollutants from ground water, they are drought protection, they decrease the damage from floods, they produce food for fish and other animals.
Working with the Tulalip Tribes, over the last couple of years Dittbrenner’s small group has captured and relocated some 40 beavers.
I would like this story SO much better if they had installed a flow device. Just as I would like Ben’s website SO much better if the links for nonlethal solutions were not all dead or 404′s and he didn’t have the story about throwing beavers from the airplane on the front page. He’s doing good work for the right reasons I keep telling myself. But this kind of thing just upsets me.
Have you seen those inhumane concrete container crates they use at Guantanamo? They are NICER than what this beaver gets. And speaking of torture, how do you think a beaver feels in a tiny box listening to the roar of rushing water that she can never, ever repair? I can’t help myself. What on earth is the fascination with housing beavers at fish hatcheries? Are they just big concrete spaces with water?
This is where beavers SHOULD be living. Rusty of Napatopia sent me this photo yesterday after the beavers did some repairs. He smartly asked if I was suffering from “Lodge Envy”, which I’m sure you can guess the answer to. Big beaver showoffs!
We have accomplishments of our own to boast of. Jon finished the stage platform refinement yesterday for the beaver festival. How lucky are OUR musicians going to be? There are three platforms which we formally inherited from the John Muir Historic site. We decided they needed sprucing up a bit. Here’s the center one.