Posted by heidi08 On April - 12 - 2014Comments Off

I heard this morning the official word that Jari Osborne’s Canadian Beaver Whisperers documentary will have its American debut on PBS Nature May 14, 2014! (It will be released under the title “Leave it to beavers” which is SO overdone.) That means in a month you can get your friends together for the very best superbowl-type viewing party of the century! It will star our good beaver friends, Glynnis Hood, Sherri Tippie and Suzanne Fouty, with beaver problem-solving by Michel LeClare of Quebec. Jari is flying to New York to appear on MetroFocus May 1st and promote the series.

Sherri Tippie kissing a beaver kit (a pup). East Beaver Creek, Colorado. Photo Credit: © Ford McClave 2013

Not excited yet? Just read the promo:

A growing number of scientists, conservationists and grass-roots environmentalists have come to regard beavers as overlooked tools when it comes to reversing the disastrous effects of global warming and worldwide water shortages. Once valued for their fur or hunted as pests, these industrious rodents are seen in a new light through the eyes of this novel assembly of beaver enthusiasts and “employers” who reveal the ways in which the presence of beavers can transform and revive landscapes. Using their skills as natural builders and brilliant hydro-engineers, beavers are being recruited to accomplish everything from finding water in a bone-dry desert to recharging water tables and coaxing life back into damaged lands.

Beaver at work dragging large branch/closeup. Ontario, Canada. Photo Credit: © Michael Runtz

It says these great photos by Michael Runtz (a good friend of our good friend Donna DeBreuille)  can only be used for promotion but I’m pretty sure this qualifies! Watch it! Watch it! Watch it! Watch it with your children, your grandmother, your mailman. Drive up the ratings! Send letters to the station! Make PBS think they need a weekly beaver program! Don’t get up to use the bathroom during any part of it unless your in pain. Stay all the way to the very end of the  credits because it’s theoretically possible that my tiny name will be there.

Here’s the viewing schedule for KQED in case your busy that night.

KQED 9: Wed, May 14, 2014 — 8:00pm
KQED 9: Thu, May 15, 2014 — 2:00am
KQED Life: Fri, May 16, 2014 — 7:00pm
KQED Life: Sat, May 17, 2014 — 1:00am
KQED World: Sat, May 17, 2014 — 9:00pm
KQED 9: Sun, May 18, 2014 — 10:00am
KQED World: Sun, May 18, 2014 — 3:00pm
KQED World: Sun, May 18, 2014 — 9:00pm
KQED World: Mon, May 19, 2014 — 5:00am
KQED World: Mon, May 19, 2014 — 11:00am

 They haven’t released a trailer yet, but here’s the Canadian one which I adore.

From the: It never rains, but it pours, beaver files!

   Posted by heidi08 On April - 11 - 2014Comments Off

Sometimes I go for weeks with nary a beaver report to etch together because the world is in a collective beaver lull. And sometimes there are way too may stories to write about. This morning is the second problem, but we have to start with a mind-blowing report from Saskatchewan, Canada. Which happens to be home to some of the most famous beaver intolerance in the Northern Hemisphere and was even featured as an example of beaver woes in the Canadian documentary on beavers last year. Its horrific report of beaver killing has spurred my most treasured columns (Saskat-CHEW-on-that!) and one of my most praised graphics (The exploding beaver population). exploding beaverWhich is just back story to remind us that they really, really hate beavers. And  makes this story all the more remarkable.

Moose Mountain Provincial Park Beaver Management Plan presented to public

Conflicting views on beaver management in the Moose Mountain Provincial Park have been issues for many years, but issues surrounding the actual workings of the watershed and Kenosee Lake are the underlying driving force of the concerns regarding water levels in Kenosee.

Phillips spoke to his research which pointed towards the park’s topography as being nearly saturated by beaver, with 2.13 colonies in every square kilometre which is a considerable density. However, despite there being numerous beaver in the area Phillips wasn’t hesitant to suggest a drastic beaver management plan, thus his recommendations following his studies included looking into flow devices in certain areas to prevent beavers from damming these spots and to refrain from much blasting of beaver dams until a hydrological study could be performed on the area.


Mind you, there is also a passage in the article that suggest beavers are to blame for their being less water in the lake. (Drinking too much?) But considering the source, this is a HUGE step forward from an area I wasn’t even sure had feet. Maybe this next article has something to do with it, because Alberta is just one province over. Dr. Hood is steadily persuading hearts and minds in Canada.

Beavers fulfill important role

Glynnis Hood is so passionate about beavers she has built a life around fighting for the enduring symbol of Canada.

 “Whether you love them or not, the Canadian landscape was formed by the beaver,” said Hood, an associate professor at the University of Alberta’s environmental science and studies Augustana campus, at a recent meeting of the Bow Valley Naturalists.

In examining how beaver influenced some of Alberta’s wetlands in Elk Island National Park over a 54-year period, Hood and co-investigator Suzanne Bayley discovered the presence of open water increased up to nine times with the presence of beaver and their dams.

 Climate models predict the incidence of drought in parts of North America will increase in frequency and length over the next 100 years and Hood’s research shows beavers will likely play an important role in maintaining water and mitigating the effects of drought.

Don’t you just  love Glynnis? Sometimes I feel so frustrated, like a lone voice in the wilderness, and then she lands a report in the news and I just feel so relaxed. Like a child falling asleep in the back seat while their parents drive. You can bet that repeating this story over and over, and her compelling spot on the Beaver Whisperers  documentary, and her smart book, have all made an impact on her neighbors.

Currently, Hood is working on an ongoing study in the Cooking Lake-Blackfoot Provincial Recreation Area, just south of Elk Island National Park.

 They have installed 12 pond levelling devices, all of which are performing well to date. Three devices have been in since 2011 and have required very little to no maintenance and have withstood summer high water and winter warm spells.

 Hood, along with Dr. Varghese Manaloor, an economist at the University of Augustana, have been supervising a student on a directed study this semester to work with cost-benefit data for these sites.

 Hood said there are significant financial gains by using the pond levellers instead of the more traditional approaches, such as dam removal or removal of a beaver colony. In one case, she said, a device was installed adjacent to a popular park trail that was subject to regular flooding and closure over the past 10 years.

 “The trail has remained open and dry since installation and the wetland and beaver colony remain intact,” she said.

What could possibly top that, you ask? How about this short report from England where a beaver was observed reintroducing himself.


Beaver seen swimming on coast

 A BEAVER was sighted in Ramsgate sea this morning before swimming as far as Viking Bay.

Remember that beavers often use the ocean to get between rivers, and since they can close their eyes, ears, nose and throats, they can manage in salt water fairly well for a time. I’m thinking this beaver has read the many articles on the glacial speed with which the United Kingdom is moving towards beaver reintroduction, arguing about reintroducing dinosaurs because they were native once too,  worrying about farmers, fisherman and flooding, and the beaver just said,

“Fuck it, I’ll do it myself”

Beaver Steals Booze

   Posted by heidi08 On April - 10 - 2014Comments Off

‘Beaver’ tries to steal drink from nightclub, doesn’t do very well. The hunt is on for the Swansea beaver

(Picture: Oceana Swansea / Facebook)

Criminal mastermind this person is not. The fancy dress costume-wearing individual was captured on a nightclub’s CCTV after leaning over the bar and grabbing a bottle before making a run for it.

Unfortunately he or she only managed to escape with a bottle of blackcurrant squash worth about 60p.

For video of the escape visit here. Would a beaver steel alcohol? Not until there’s a vodka made of fermented willow!


business cardsWhen I went to the salmon conference, I brought along the new wooden business cards a friend had made for me at NightOwl Paper Goods. They were a dramatic hit and everyone was scrambling for the information to buy their own. I thought I would mention this good news to the owners of the company while unobtrusively asking for a donation to the silent auction at this years’ beaver festival. She wrote this morning with the good news!

CaptureThank you so much for your very sweet email! We appreciate your referrals tons! We’re happy to hear that your cards have been a hit and we’d be delighted to send some goodies your way for the auction.  They’ll be on the way to you shortly.

 Have a hoot at the festival!


If you’ve never seen their adorable works of art, go give yourself a treat. Thanks NightOwl!

Did you know April 8th was International Nutria Day?

   Posted by heidi08 On April - 9 - 2014Comments Off

Neither did I. But the Oregon Live OREGONIAN apparently has the scoop. Just look at their cover photo yesterday!

International Beaver Day: 7 ways to honor Beaverton’s namesake, Oregon’s state animal

The modern beaver doesn’t look much different than ones that roamed Oregon millions of years ago. (dreamstime/Marianne Rouwendal-Tollenaar)

Guess what? April 7 was International Beaver Day. As the beaver is Oregon’s state animal, as well as the namesake for Beaverton, take some time this week to honor the water-loving rodent.

Beaverton? Are you sure you don’t mean Nutriaton? My goodness, why aren’t newspapers in the beaver state, that have been duped over and over again in very public ways, even a little wary about posting a picture of a “beaver” that doesn’t show its tail? There should be a memo somewhere in every news room that  looks like this:


If you have any doubt in your heart, take a ruler and measure the distance between eye, nose and ear. And then look at this:

mom repose

Mom in repose: Photo Cheryl Reynolds 2008

Now maybe you’re thinking, oh but there’s a webbed foot in the right hand corner? It MUST be a beaver! Remember that Nutrias live an aquatic life too and therefore have webbed feet also. Look at mom’s delicate black whiskers blended into her overall fur. Beavers have fewer whiskers because there’s are more sensitive and do more work. Want to compare to a baby beaver? Also tiny black whiskers – not a sea of stiff white ones.


Kit: 2008: Cheryl Reynolds

I have an idea of how to celebrate beaver day! Lose the rat! That might be a good start.

UPDATE: Hey, guess what? They corrected their photo! I’m not wild about this one either but I love that they listened!13270806-mmmain


Good beaver auction news yesterday from Steve Zamek, the reformed software engineer behind FeatherLight Photgraphy. Steve really got all my attention with this amazing cover of Bay Nature, which is among the finest photos I have ever seen. (Below, along with the  very smartest caption!)

Thinking that donating prints which we would have to frame would be a costly donation for us, he generously offered a gift certificate to his gallery so the buyer could chose exactly what s/he wanted. He also says I should tell him as soon as the kits are born, and he’ll come to photograph! Thank Steve!

Hooded merganser contemplating lunch — or a stickleback contemplating mortality – Steve Zamek


Another round of “Blame the beaver” in Massachusetts

   Posted by heidi08 On April - 8 - 2014Comments Off

The driveway at 26 Mount Jefferson Road all but washed away after a beaver dam on a small pond nearby let go Sunday afternoon, causing a damaging torrent of water to race down the road. (T&G Staff/CHRISTINE PETERSON)

Breached beaver dam closes Mount Jefferson Road in Hubbardston

HUBBARDSTON — The breach of a beaver dam Sunday along Mount Jefferson Road wasn’t bad, unless you live in Marjorie Filleul’s house at No. 26.  “The water came from the street into our front yard. It ruined our driveway and made a couple of ponds in the back,” Ms. Filleul said. Some of the water ended up in her basement, as well.

 The flooding closed the road as crews worked to plow away the rocks and debris that landed there, she said.  Photographs from the scene show damage to the roadway and swaths cut across yards by the rush of water.

Never mind that there was about 5 inches of rain last month in Hubbardston and more in April. It’s gotta be the beaver’s fault because who else can you blame? At least there WAS a beaver dam in beaver-challenged Massachusetts. People who let it stay near or on their property. Although that might not happen again, after this story.

Because driveways never flood without beavers.

A nice article on identifying active beaver lodges after snowmelt from naturalist Mary Holland. Of course it’s absolutely no use at all in Martinez, but you’ll enjoy it anyway.

Beaver ponds have finally started to melt, making it easy to determine whether or not there have been beavers living in any existing lodges over the winter. The tell-tale sign is floating de-barked sticks and branches. During the winter, beavers leave their lodge and swim out to their underwater food supply pile and haul branches back into the lodge where they chew them into foot-long pieces for easy handling. The bark is removed and eaten as the beaver holds the stick and turns it, much as we consume corn on the cob. When little or no bark remains, the stick is discarded out in the open water. These sticks remain hidden underneath the ice on the surface of the water until warm weather arrives and the ice begins to melt. At this point the sticks and branches become visible, and often extend several feet out from the lodge. These sticks will not go to waste, but will be used for dam and lodge repairs. (Photo taken standing on lodge.)

Nice tip, Mary! I will make sure our sierra beaver friends see it. Mary has the brilliant attention to detail and observation skills that has turned into a very successful website and several well-respected books. I am always thrilled to see what she has written and photographed.

Still, our beaver friend and photographer Ann Siegal and myself both had the same reaction about the last line. “Ack! Don’t Stand on The Lodge!” we both said instinctively when we read that. Maybe because we’re used to beavers in more urban areas where there are many more curious feet to worry about. Or maybe we’re just beaver-centric. I admit, I’ve seen footage of bears, cougars, beavers and other heavy things standing on the lodge and not falling through. But she saw a high school student fall through one! Why risk it? Just imagine if baby beavers were sleeping inside and you crushed them!

When I went to her site I saw that she just published a children’s book on beavers so of course you know what I did.

CaptureAlong a stream a dam pops out of the water. Beavers are busy at work! These aquatic mammals have unique traits that aid them in building the perfect lodge to raise young beavers and keep predators away. Mary Holland’s vibrant photographs document the beavers’ activities through the course of a year. Do these beavers ever take a break? Follow along as they pop through the winter ice to begin the busy year of eating bark, building dams and gathering food just in time for winter to come again.

Someone get me a cup of tea and a cozy chair, I know just what I’m doing for the next half hour! Mary kindly wrote me back that same day:

What a great event and poster you have, for such a worthy cause! I have forwarded your email to my publisher and asked if they would send you a copy of THE BEAVERS’ BUSY YEAR. If they don’t, I will – I’ve asked them to let me know, but if you don’t hear from them within a week or so, would you let me know and I’ll put a copy in the mail to you. Congratulations on the success of your project! Mary

 Thanks Mary! The publisher wrote me this morning and is sending a copy forthwith. If you can’t wait for summer to get your own, go here to support her lovely work. Mary lives in Vermont, the same state as Skip Lisle who installed our flow device, which we are not at all surprised about. The same state as many good beaver articles. Let’s hope we get another lodge some day to be careful of, and just remember that it never hurts to ask…


International Beaver Day – From NY to AZ

   Posted by heidi08 On April - 7 - 2014Comments Off

International Beaver Day

From Beavers:Wetlands and Wildlife

April 7 was chosen as International #BeaverDay because it is the birthday of pioneering naturalist and wildlife advocate Dorothy Richards. She was born on this day in 1894 in Little Falls, NY and founded Beaversprite Sanctuary just upstream near Dolgeville, NY. She lived well into her 90s, and she would have turned 120 this year. You can order a copy of her inspiring autobiography, “Beaversprite: My Years Building an Animal Sanctuary,” from BWW’s website.

Nice! A great day to  remember Dorothy and the good  work beavers do. Of course, when I see reminders of beaver day I honestly think to myself, “Just a day?” Our beavers celebrated Beaver day by not showing up last night OR this morning. I’m sure there are many, many cast parties for them to attend, but a little visit would have been polite.

It was rumored into my ear that the trailer for the beaver believers movie would be released today. Sadly, there is nothing so far. I imagine Sarah on the floor in her film closet with a pencil behind her ear buried  in Final Cut making last minute changes. Maybe later today? Until then enjoy this lovely film from Arizona of Walt Andersen from Prescott University. I think Walt needs to be a Worth A Dam friend very soon.

BS With Highest Honors, Wildlife Biology, Washington State University, 1968
MS, Wildlife Biology, University of Arizona, 1974
PhD Candidate, Resource Ecology, University of Michigan, 1976 (all but dissertation)
Walt is an expert in field identification of plants and animals, in teaching ecological concepts and natural history, and in group dynamics. He has written manuals for tour guides and safari guides for clients. He co-founded the West Butte Sanctuary Company and founded the Sutter Buttes Naturalists, which evolved into the Middle Mountain Foundation in the Sutter Buttes of California. He was one of the pioneers of ecotourism in the US and internationally (led first US ecotourism trip to national parks of Brazil, first trip to Madagascar for major donors of the World Wildlife Fund, etc.). He also has experience with publishing and is a compulsive and detail-oriented editor. In addition, he is a wildlife painter and illustrator and has published hundreds of photographs in many places. He loves using his images and words to interpret nature for audiences of any size.

Wanna Be-avers

   Posted by heidi08 On April - 6 - 2014Comments Off

This morning started with a power outage and the usual slow dawning of understanding what that means – Ohh no power in this room either, no heater, no computer, no router, no clock. In case you’re in the beavers neighborhood, reading this on your phone, this is what PGE says:

Outage Details START TIME:APR 6, 4:07 AM
CAUSE:Unknown – PG&E is investigating the cause.
STATUS:PG&E is assessing the cause at the outage location.

Back on at 7:05. So lets talk about muskrats with this article from Jim Mcormac from the Dispatch in Ohio:

Muskrat deserves love as vital vole of wetlands


I just have to love any article that starts like this:

In the beginning, Kitchi-Manitou, creator of Earth, populated the lands with the Anishinabe. After these original peoples descended into conflict and war, Kitchi-Manitou flooded the lands in retribution. Nanaboozhoo was the sole survivor, along with a handful of animals. One of them was a muskrat. From their log ark, Nanaboozhoo sent the muskrat diving below the floodwaters. It returned with a pawful of earth, and from that the lands were re-created.

— Ojibway legend

I’ve written natural history columns for The Dispatch for a decade — more than 160 pieces on almost as many subjects — but never about the muskrat. Given its prominence in creation lore, an essay on the “earth diver” is overdue.

 Although muskrats resemble beavers, they are only distant relatives of the much larger rodents. The muskrat is related to mice and voles, and is essentially a supersize aquatic vole.  A hefty muskrat might weigh 4 pounds; a big beaver can be 70 pounds. Beavers also have a horizontally flattened tail, while the muskrat’s is laterally compressed, as if compacted in a vise.

Muskrats are an important cog in wetland ecology. They are prolific grazers of aquatic plants and help to keep marshes open and free of choking growth.  Semiopen marshes usually support greater animal diversity, including waterfowl. The lodges literally support ducks and geese, which sometimes nest atop the domes.

To which I KNOW the wetland-giving beavers would reply, “You call that biodiversity?” Hrmph!