The Un-abandoning

   Posted by heidi08 On October - 18 - 2014Comments Off

e5e46c4c-4ae7-49bc-8834-45cc0ce4fd61-1020x612

The previous photo reads: In this Sept. 12, 2014, photo, a tagged young beaver explores water hole near Ellensburg, Wash., after he and his family were relocated by a team from the Mid-Columbia Fisheries Enhancement Group…

I worked very hard to track down Melissa Babik after I saw this photo. Sinceher email wasn’t listed online it meant looking up the group she worked with and using their format from the listed emails to speculate about hers.  After a few false starts I cracked the code and wrote her to ask about the possibility of a leftover beaver. In the mean time, I even quarreled with beaver champion Joe Wheaton who politely admonished me for complaining about one abandoned beaver when Yakima was generally doing such a good job promoting beaver benefits. I respect Joe very much, and don’t want him to see me as some beaver-eco-terrorist – but leaving behind family is the opposite of what I want for beavers. I worried and fussed about this for more days than I will confess, thinking about the difference between what it means to be a beaver advocate (which is quite rare actually) and a “beaver benefits” advocate (which is getting to be much more common).

Then yesterday Mel wrote me back. And guess what she said? She said this photo was taken in his new location AFTER the entire family was moved. And she added:

We work hard with the best possible techniques to capture entire family units. We moved 7 beavers total in this family that would have been lethally removed. We trap for a minimum of 5 consecutive nights with no fresh activity to ensure we have the entire colony (on average this means we trap for a minimum of 2 weeks at a site but generally longer). Often we’ll go back after the sites “cools” and try again. It is sad to leave members behind and with their strong social bonds we know this limits our success.

Isn’t that GREAT news? No beavers left behind and at least 5 days of no activity before the team moves on – which often takes two weeks! I can’t remember a time I’ve been happier to be wrong, and I asked Mel for permission to share it with you so you could be happy about my wrongness too! For some reason this sound track is playing in my head.

Thanks for reading so carefully.. another misinterpretation in this generally well written article is that ~50% of our relocated beavers get preyed on our go back to their colonies. When in fact what I said was they are unaccounted for: SOME may get preyed upon (we’ve never seen evidence of this but know it happens), one we know went back to his colony, and others we are slowly finding elsewhere in the headwaters doing great things!

Again thanks for asking these questions and clearing up misconceptions! We appreciate the work you do to educate folks about beavers!

MEL

 This is all fantastic news and I couldn’t be happier!  Careful of beavers and their delicate family systems! I sent it right away to Joe who I had already repaired things with. He was thrilled to have the data to back up his positive view. This morning I will send it to everyone I contaminated with my previous gloom because they deserve to have their reputation restored. They are spreading good beaver cheer all over the country, and even if it’s not QUITE as wonderful as keeping the beavers in town, they are doing it responsibly! (I just saw an article about them yesterday in the Idaho Statesman).

I have been such a big scrooge about the Yakima good news that I feel you might deserve this clip as well. Maybe its the looming season ahead, but I can’t resist.

Spread the beaver gospelShare on FacebookShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on StumbleUponTweet about this on TwitterShare on TumblrEmail this to someone

Beaver Restoration means River Restoration

   Posted by heidi08 On October - 17 - 2014Comments Off

West Coast Beaver evangelism coming to a state near you soon. Don’t miss the chance to hear about beaver restoration from the heavy weights whose research made this all sound possible. Hey, if you’re in California why not make a  Beaver vacation out of it? Stop in Weed for their full blast of wisdom then toodle up the coast for the 4th annual State of the Beaver Conference the following week! There could be an entire fortnight of beavers!

restore3Five interactive workshops focused on the use of beaver in aquatic restoration will be offered from January through April, 2015. Workshops are intended for land owners/managers, and restoration funders, reviewers, and practitioners who are actively involved in aquatic ecosystem restoration. There will be an opportunity to sign up as a peer reviewer of the draft Beaver Restoration Guidelines at each of the workshops, or request to be a reviewer by e-mailing Janine_M_Castro@fws.gov.

Locations and Dates:

• Everett, Washington, January 14th

• Portland, Oregon, January 21st and 22nd

• Weed, California, February 12th

• Juneau, Alaska, April 14th

Presenters:

Michael M. Pollock, Ph.D., Ecosystems Analyst, NOAA Northwest Fisheries Science Center

Chris Jordan, Ph.D., Mathematical Ecologist, NOAA Northwest Fisheries Science Center

Janine Castro, Ph.D., Geomorphologist, US Fish and Wildlife Service and NOAA Fisheries

Gregory Lewallen, Research Assistant, Portland State University

Mary Ann Schmidt, Director, Environmental Professional Program, Portland State University

 

Go here to register or here to download the flier and share with your friends.

beavers&salmon

Spread the beaver gospelShare on FacebookShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on StumbleUponTweet about this on TwitterShare on TumblrEmail this to someone

Bad News, Good News, Beaver News

   Posted by heidi08 On October - 16 - 2014Comments Off

Cochrane’s beaver management has its challenges

The Town of Cochrane is asking Cochranites who peruse the pathways to be mindful of signage indicating beaver management (trapping) in areas throughout the Ranche Site and Glenbow this fall season.

See? I told you the phrase “beaver management” is a euphemism for murder. Like “Ethnic Cleansing”,  “the Jewish Problem”, or “Manifest Destiny.”

According to Gerry Murphy, parks manager for the town, when town staff observes beaver damming occurring, they reach out to town-contracted Eagle Creek Wildlife Control; the town has managed beavers within the town for many years.

 Eagle Creek sends out licensed trappers to identify areas to set live and lethal traps and the town assists with signage.

“When the beavers are trapped, they come out and remove them,” said Murphy, adding that people should avoid going near the traps and keep dogs leashed in areas where signage indicates beaver trapping is ongoing.

Ron Hanson started Eagle Creek some 20 years ago, followed by 30 years of service as a Fish and Wildlife officer.

He is no stranger to beavers, also known as ‘the largest North American rodent’, and the extensive damage they can cause — including damming culverts, softening road beds and railroad tracks and removing trees.

Hanson said his trappers set both live and lethal traps but that beavers are managed through euthanization — which he said is the most humane form of management.

“From a moral standpoint, moving (relocating) beavers at this time of the year is just not an option,” he said, explaining that the beaver population is at an all-time high.

If there’s one thing I value, it’s the moral teachings of a trapper and ex-game warden.

Never mind that Cochrane is about three hours away from Dr. Glynnis Hood who is the premiere beaver researcher  in the entire world. Never mind that her students are doing beaver management in Alberta and you could be next if you weren’t so beaver-dam stubborn. Never mind that if you kept these beavers in your creeks using mitigation you’d never have to hire Ron again to solve this problem, because they’d be using their own territorial behaviors to keep others away. And you’d have more fish and wildlife (oh, and water) in your town.

Honestly, sometimes all I can think of is Gollum, writhing with pain at the elven ropes crying “It hurts us! [the beaver stupidity], it hurts us,’ hissed Gollum. `It freezes, it bites!”

“In my opinion, the town parks department has done a spectacular job of beaver management in the Town of Cochrane over the past 20 or more years,” said Guy Woods, director of Bow Valley Habitat Development.

 Hanson said they use the beaver carcasses to supply bear bait for local Fish and Wildlife officers.

facepalmThen there’s this today from Belllefontaine, Ohio. You just know this ended well.

beaver-round-up

Bellefontaine Police Officer Glenn Newland uses a snare to trap a beaver this morning in the parking lot of Fontaine Plaza shopping center, as Logan County Dog Warden Benji Avila waits with a trap and Police Sgt. Allen Shields holds another snare. The beaver had taken up residence around the shopping carts outside the Big Lots store,1760 S. Main St. The officers believed the beaver may have come from a pond behind the nearby Lowe’s Home Improvement Warehouse where they intended to set the animal free. (EXAMINER PHOTO | REUBEN MEES)

____________________________________________________

The saving grace good news is that I got a surprise present from Fur-bearer Defenders Radio yesterday I just had to share. It’s part of the most recent episode with very famous psychologist and eminently published author Marc Berkoff (who writes about animal feelings and feelings for animals in Psychology Today among other places). The interview starts by proclaiming the successful launch of their podcast. The very cool part is that I had sent Dr. Berkoff my own modest interview a while back and he had politely responded that he was interested in listening but never had time to do it. (Poor Heidi. Not even a beaver bridesmaid!) I knew it would be relevant but even I can’t chase a man more thank twice, so I had given up making my debut as a beaver-saving psychologist.

But now Fur-bearer Defenders is doing it for me right in Marc’s episode!

three second1

You know you want to click on this…

Oh and he’s donating a copy of his new book “Rewilding our Hearts” for the silent auction.

Spread the beaver gospelShare on FacebookShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on StumbleUponTweet about this on TwitterShare on TumblrEmail this to someone

Wolves, Elk, Beavers, oh my!

   Posted by heidi08 On October - 15 - 20142 COMMENTS

1459346_10153585381300301_647114974_n I recently asked beaver-friend Bruce Thompson of Wyoming if I could share his thoughts on trophic cascades. He graciously agreed so you’d understand the concept better. The awesome graphics are from Earth Justice and perfect for the occasion. Enjoy!

While the term “trophic cascade” is new, the ecological concept is not. It is a process set in motion by the addition or removal of a top predator, which triggers reciprocal changes in the relative populations of predators and prey throughout a food chain. This “cascade” often results in impressive changes in ecosystem structure and nutrient cycling. As a simple example, an increase (or decrease) in carnivores causes a decrease (or increase) in herbivores (their prey) and an increase (or decrease) in plants (the “prey” of herbivores).

 One case study from eastern US is how 19th century removal of wolves has been associated with an increase in white-tailed deer and a decline in plants eaten by the deer. Encyclopedia Britannica: “American zoologist Robert Paine coined the term trophic cascade in 1980 to describe reciprocal changes in food webs caused by experimental manipulations of top predators. In the 1980s others used the term to describe changes in aquatic ecosystems arising from factors such as sudden increases in predatory fish populations from stocking or dramatic declines in predatory fishes caused by overfishing.”

So, the phenomena is neither new nor in question, but as with anything as complex as an ecosystem (and involving human opinion) the precise mechanisms and predictable outcomes are.

To me, and most ecologists, it’s absurd to think that the removal of the wolf from so complex a system as Yellowstone (in the 1930′s, I believe) — or its reintroduction after more than a half-century’s absence — would not reverberate through the trophic system. Consider similar results from the removal of YOU from your household ecosystem. ; – )

 1486834_10153585381195301_710637194_n

Anyway, in its simplest use, the word “trophic” referees to anything having to do with eating. In ecology, the “trophic level” of an organism is the position it occupies in a food chain. So, “trophic cascade” refers to a sort of “domino effect” or cascading response within a system, triggered by a change in one or more of the major players within a food chain of that system.

 Impacts associated with the trophic cascade in Yellowstone include:

  1.  Scavengers like ravens, bald eagles, and grizzly bears, are benefitting from the carcasses left by wolf kills;
  2.  Impacts from elk browsing on willow throughout the park has changed measurably since wolf introduction;
  3.   In northern YNP, the number of a half-dozen songbird species that use willow for shelter and nesting was found to be greater in areas of willow recovery as opposed to those where willows remained suppressed, such as from ungulate browsing;

  Bison numbers in the northern range have increased in proportion to the decline of elk numbers;1453297_10153585381190301_1394755555_n

  1. The number of beaver colonies in the park has increased from one in 1996 to twelve in 2009. This is largely attributed to increased willow availability, which the beavers there are largely dependent upon for food and dam building.
  2. The work of beavers, acknowledged as a keystone species by most scientists, in turn reverberates through the system by positive changes in the water table, flood control, small mammal populations, nesting waterfowl, fish nesting habitat, soil development, etc, etc.

People — especially the media — will argue about the specifics of all this till the cows come home, but there is no question in my mind that multilevel shifts in food sources, food availability and use, and dependent wildlife populations have all shifted in innumerable ways since wolf introduction, and that the wolves are directly or indirectly responsible for most if not all of those changes.1459937_10153585381200301_402184108_n

That’s my story, short version.

Bruce

Thanks for the great explanation Bruce! It all makes so much sense. But if you ask me the wolves are stealing wayyyyy too much credit. I mean all they do is make way for the real heroes. Right?

Spread the beaver gospelShare on FacebookShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on StumbleUponTweet about this on TwitterShare on TumblrEmail this to someone

Beavers Far and Wee

   Posted by heidi08 On October - 14 - 2014Comments Off

Beaver fence aims to stop pathway flooding in Fish Creek

A beaver appears to be missing a paw from a trapping mishap in Fish Creek Provincial Park. (Ingham Nature Photography )

A beaver appears to be missing a paw from a trapping mishap in Fish Creek Provincial Park. (Ingham Nature Photography )

Calgary officials are trying out a new way to manage beavers that are causing problems in Fish Creek Provincial Park.

The rodents keep packing mud and logs against a culvert in a city-owned storm pond. If left, the dam would cause the pond to overflow and flood a popular pathway.

In the spring, the city’s water services department is going to install something called an exclusion fence — a trapezoid shaped fence made of wire that prevents the beavers from plugging the culvert.

The city used to deal with situations like this by trapping and killing the beavers, but it reviewed that policy after an incident in July. A beaver got caught in a trap, but didn’t die and was spotted struggling to free itself.

Fish Creek Park Beavers

The area in Fish Creek Provincial Park where city officials tried to trap and kill the beaver over concerns it would flood a bike path. (Carla Beynon/CBC)

Upset animal lovers launched a petition to stop trapping in the city. That prompted the review, which revealed that debris got caught in the trap, causing it to malfunction. Since then, the city has been working with the Association for the Protection of Fur-Bearing Animals to come up with non-lethal alternatives.

“We want to go a different route so we don’t actually have to kill beavers,” said water services spokesman Randy Girling. “We don’t want to be known as killers or anything like that. We want to do the best we can for the wildlife in our parks.”

Hurray for Adrien and Fur-Bearer Defenders! They managed to convince the good folk of FCPP that it was better to try something new than claw their way out of any more bad press and public wrath. Adrien says it was hard, hard work. Like pushing a grand piano through a transom. But they persevered and were granted permission to install a beaver deceiver  now. Gosh, I’m so old I can remember when Adrien installed his first leveler!

Sniff, they grow up so fast.

Speaking of the long arm of beaver defenders, I got an invitation this morning to present at the San Pedro Valley Park in Pacifica on beavers. A month after I’ll be talking in Auburn. That’s 133 miles apart for beaver defense. 1670 if you count Utah and Oregon. And Cheryl just visited Big Break in Brentwood where she snapped these videos of our work at the visitors venter!

Pretty cool to be long-range beaver preachers!

Spread the beaver gospelShare on FacebookShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on StumbleUponTweet about this on TwitterShare on TumblrEmail this to someone

The Trail from Utah to Martinez

   Posted by heidi08 On October - 13 - 2014Comments Off

Hot of the presses I just got word from Mary Obrien that the BRAT (Beaver Restoration Assessment Tool) has just been completed for the entire state of Utah. The complete report and maps are here and I will put a permanent link on the margin alongside the last amazing thing Utah did for beavers, (and the one before that). Here’s a little excerpt  from the executive summary.

This report presents the development and application of the Beaver Restoration Assessment Tool (BRAT), a decision support and planning tool for beaver management, to analyze all perennial rivers and streams in Utah. The backbone to BRAT is a capacity model developed to assess the upper limits of riverscapes to support beaver dam – building activities. Both existing and historic capacity were estimated with readily available spatial datasets to evaluate five key lines of evidence: 1) a  perennial water source, 2) availability of dam building materials, 3) ability to build a dam at baseflow, 4) likelihood of dams to withstand a typical flood , and 5) likelihood that stream gradient would limit or completely eliminate dam building by beaver. Fuzzy inference systems were used to combine these lines of evidence while accounting for uncertainty.

CaptureWith this announcement came a note from Mary that two stalwart Utah beaver champions are coming out to San Rafael for the annual Bioneers conference this month. They are going to a soils workshop and would like to meet Worth A Dam and the beavers if at all possible. For the past 5 years they’ve been hard at work letting beavers turn the tiny incised trickle on their land into this beauty. Their beavers have survived  the last 5 years on mostly cattails because there are no trees to speak of!

Yet.

 

 

P1090548And speaking of beavers eating cattails, here’s a video Rusty sent this morning of  a Napa beaver doing just that. The green water is pond weed/algae and don’t worry, I just read this morning that  cattails are VERY nutritious.

Spread the beaver gospelShare on FacebookShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on StumbleUponTweet about this on TwitterShare on TumblrEmail this to someone

50 states of beaver

   Posted by heidi08 On October - 12 - 2014Comments Off

Old Fort fifth-graders learn all about water-dwelling rodent

 It isn’t every day that Old Fort fifth-grader Makayla Evans gets to dress up like a beaver.

 Garbed in goggles, a blanket, sound-proof headphones, a trash bag and a pair of gloves, the fifth-grader stood in front of her classmates wearing items that represented different traits the rodent found all across North Carolina possesses.

 “I’m going to hand Makayla this small canister of oil,” said Lake James State Park Ranger Kevin Bischof. “Can anyone guess what that represents on a beaver?”

 “It’s what keeps their coat waterproof,” said one student as Bischof continued handing Evans more items to go with her makeshift costume.

 Bischof’s presentation was part of an hour-long lesson in Joanna Graham’s science class at Old Fort Elementary, which was designed to help students better understand the American beaver.

Now we’re all read about the park system educational brilliance where they dress a kid in a fur coat and put on flippers and say ‘you’re a beaver’. But mind you this is North Carolina, which (if we’re being kind) has a fairly conflicted relationship with beavers, so we are really haooy 5th graders get beaver ed. But this blew me away:

“The beaver is a keystone species,” said Bischof. “If you remove them from an environment, it drastically changes. It takes constant maintenance to keep up a dam, and if a beaver is removed from the area then their dams will eventually deteriorate and change everything in the area where they’ve been.”

You can almost here the unspoken message “So tell you’re dad if he blows up that beaver dam it will be bad for everything”, can’t you? Of course I wrote Kevin right away. And our beaver friends in North Carolina to introduce them. Every now and then I start to think the landscape for beavers is changing all over the united states. Which is a pretty nice thought to have. Oh, and I sent along these:

archbrochurecharm 008

___________________________

Researchers Say Beavers Are More Than Simple Pests

Yakima beaver relocation was on Scott Simon yesterday of NPR. More good promotion of beaver benefits, although I hate the headline. It reminds me of that scene in Tolkein’s the Two Towers, where the hobbits stumble on the oldest forest.

” What a pity! This shaggy old forest looked so different in the sunlight. I almost felt I liked the place.
 
‘Almost felt you liked the Forest! That’s good! That’s uncommonly kind of you,’ said a
strange voice. ‘Turn round and let me have a look at your faces. I almost feel that I dislike you both, but do not let us be hasty. Turn around!’ “

In addition to the usual beaver beatitudes there are a few choice quotes that I will offer without comment.

Capture

Click to Listen

We try to catch the whole colony because beavers have incredibly intense family social bonds. So without taking the whole family colony, they’re more likely to go right back to where they once were caught in searching for their family members.

[Regarding their naming of beavers] It helps us bring light to sometimes sad instances where family members may have gotten lost behind.

disbelief1

___________________________

And now that we’re back from vacation I’m starting to think about Halloween decorations. We’re so lucky we may have just the thing! What do you think, too scary?

boover

 

Spread the beaver gospelShare on FacebookShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on StumbleUponTweet about this on TwitterShare on TumblrEmail this to someone