Beaver lies for children

   Posted by heidi08 On November - 30 - 2015ADD COMMENTS

Abuse of beaver information apparently knows no bounds. It happens in city meetings and in classroom settings. Here’s a charming kiddie cartoon about some birds who try to stop destructive ‘beaver boy’ from chewing down all the trees. He’s driven to continue not by starvation, but by his quest for real beaver identification and the fact that his “teeth get bored.”

Get? Inconvenient TOOTH? Mocking Climate Change AND beavers at the same time. Something tells me I can guess how this producer votes. No word yet on exactly how a DUCK eats ACORNS.

WGBH has a better beaver offering for children K-5. I can’t embed it but click on the photo to see a smart look at how beavers building dams help other wildlife. This is especially remarkable because WGBH is in Boston Massachusetts, where beaver are hated and lied about every day. Consider this a voice in the wilderness.

The beaver is often referred to as nature’s own engineer. This video segment focuses on the beaver’s ability to transform its environment to suit itself. The beaver does so with an innate ability to construct dams — a feat no creature, save humans, is able to achieve. This video is available in both English and Spanish audio, along with corresponding closed captions.

Source: Beavers

CaptureSomeday our educational video will air in classrooms everywhere. Mark my words.

Martinez crime rate may sky-rocket

   Posted by heidi08 On November - 29 - 2015ADD COMMENTS

BP.orgMore good beaver news from our friends at This time especially referring especially to urban beavers.

Contact with nature may mean more social cohesion, less crime

Numerous studies have demonstrated the benefits of contact with nature for human well-being. However, despite strong trends toward greater urbanization and declining green space, little is known about the social consequences of such contact. In the December issue of BioScience, an international, interdisciplinary team reports on how they used nationally representative data from the United Kingdom and stringent model testing to examine the relationships between objective measures and self-reported assessments of contact with nature, community cohesion, and local crime incidence.

The results in the report, by Netta Weinstein of Cardiff University and others, were notable. After accounting for a range of possibly interfering factors, including socioeconomic deprivation, population density, unemployment rate, socioeconomic standing, and weekly wages, the authors determined that people’s experiences of local nature reported via a survey could explain 8% of a measure of the variation, called variance, in survey responses about perceptions of community cohesion. They describe this as “a striking finding given that individual predictors such as income, gender, age, and education together accounted for only 3%” of the variance.

The relationship with crime was similarly striking. According to the study results, objective measures of the amount of green space or farmland accessible in people’s neighborhoods accounted for 4% additional variance in crime rates. The authors argue that this predictive power compares favorably with known contributors to crime, such as socioeconomic deprivation, which accounts for 5% variance in crime rates. “The positive impact of local nature on neighbors’ mutual support may discourage crime, even in areas lower in socioeconomic factors,” they write. Further, given the political importance placed on past crime reductions as small as 2%-3%, the authors suggest that findings such as theirs could justify policies aimed at ameliorating crime by improving contact with nature.

You can read or download it here. Anyone who is surprised by this finding should have stood at the footbridge watching beavers while people of very, very different walks of life conversed about them. It was not at all uncommon to chat with toothless homeless, cycling yuppies, families pushing strollers, commuters getting off the train, and aging grandmothers together in that gathering. And I’m sure that amount of social cohesion affected crime rate.

I was working all day yesterday on the foundations of my section of the urban beaver paper, and kept asking our retired librarian friend BK from Georgia for help, which he nobly provided along with this article.Turns out there is a solid and growing body of evidence that having nature in your city is every bit as good for your physical and mental health as air quality, crosswalks and libraries.

To which we say,

From hats to heroes

   Posted by heidi08 On November - 28 - 2015ADD COMMENTS

Looks like Frances Backhouse book has hit the Canadian market in time for the holidays and is making quite an impression. I hope she sells many, many copies! I’m imagining Christmas morning all around the hemisphere is filled with happy fathers, grandmas, CEOS and science teachers reading about beavers over their morning coffee.

(Mind you, it would be great if she had a few extra copies lying around left over to donate to the silent auction at the beaver festival.)

Review: Frances Backhouse’s Once They Were Hats is fascinating and smartly written

Backhouse plots an absorbing itinerary that takes the reader on a tour of beaver habitats, as well as stops at a fast and furious Toronto fur auction and a visit to Smithbilt Hats, the legendary Calgary maker of western headwear. Among Smithbilt’s creations is the “Gus,” worn by Robert Duvall’s character in the series Lonesome Dove. Today, you can buy a wool version of the Gus from the company’s website for $110, but the highly prized, incomparably durable, full beaver model will run you $1,000. Sounds steep until you consider the guarantee that, “Once you get one, you’ll never need another.”

Most importantly, Backhouse identifies the beaver as a “keystone species.” By that definition, the beaver is “central to how a particular ecological community functions.” As such, its “effect on other animals and plants is disproportionately large.” Looking forward, the beaver’s positive impact on hydrology and water conservation could lessen the impact of drought caused by climate change. While not presented as a panacea, a strong case is made for how a “détente” between Homo sapiens and Castor canadensis can work to the benefit of both.

CaptureHot dam! Beavers — extremely weird, and essential to who we are

Once They Were Hats is deeply, enthrallingly, page-turningly fascinating. Backhouse plays two roles in Once They Were Hats: narrator and historian; in one chapter she may be investigating the evolution of the beaver species — visiting the Canadian Museum of Nature’s warehouse to look at some whittled, wooden evidence of prehistoric beaver-like animals — and in another she is describing through dialogue her visit with a Native elder, whose Deisheetaan clan held the beaver as a crest animal. It’s in this way that Once They Were Hats is both a reliable source of scientific information and an interesting anthropological text, drawing two parallel lines through Canadian history: one human, one beaver.

Biologists began to redefine the beaver’s ecological significance — which is as or more interesting than its historical one. Beavers, like few other species, dictate their environments: their tendency toward deforestation has informed the evolution of many plant species, and the dams they build affect waterways and irrigation. They literally transform the landscape: One wetland scientist late in Once They Were Hats tells Backhouse that the near-extinction of beavers “fundamentally changed the way watersheds operate.”

How exciting for a beaver book to be heralded in this way! Congratulations Frances, and I hope it continues to generate adulations. I’m always especially thrilled to see folks talking about beaver benefits in the press. I would of course assume that this meant great things for beavers if I were not SO old that I remember the reviews of Glynnis Hood’s book that pronounced beaver as an “eco-saviour” and how dizzying that glorious inevitability  seemed at the time. I was naive enough to write about it as “the New Gold Standard” in 2011, because I was sure the world’s attitude toward beavers was going to finally change at any moment.

Not so much. I guess Canadians are happy to celebrate beaver at regular intervals – just so long as they can keep killing them.

Kudos also  to our good friend Robin Ellison from Napa whose lovely photos from the Tulocay beaver pond graced not one but two months of 2016 RCD calendar! A fine kit and a very regal pond turtle. You realize of course, that once adorable beaver kits adorn the watershed calendar the birds and otters are going to have to fight for space. Expect more grand beaver photos next year. The calendar isn’t for sale, but if you make a donation I’m sure they’ll let you pick one up at the RCD office (1303 Jefferson St, Suite 500B, Napa).

Bonus points for putting the beaver on my birthday month.
Robin September

Hope Springs Eternal

   Posted by heidi08 On November - 27 - 2015ADD COMMENTS

“I think I could turn and live with the animals, they are so placid and self contained; I stand and look at them long and long.
… Not one is dissatisfied— not one is demented with the ania of owning things; 

Not one kneels to another, nor his kind that lived thousands of years ago; Not one is responsible or industrious over the whole earth.”

Hope Buyukmihci


Too bad baby beavers aren’t cute or anything.

Heidi Perryman

The Unexpected Wildlife Refuge in New Jersey has a new director,Veronica L. Van Hof.  I’m sure the beavers  and Worth A Dam will  miss Sarah Summerville and wish her fair travels, while we welcome Veronica to the beaver ‘hood,

Mourning Moon

   Posted by heidi08 On November - 26 - 2015ADD COMMENTS

Nice article in the Gazette about the mural project and I’m hopeful that will help push it forward. Technically we didn’t get any kind of actual approval, but a little positive press can’t hurt our odds.

Beaver mural gains approval

A mural dedicated to Martinez’s creek, nature, and beavers is coming to fruition. Heidi Perryman of Worth-a-Dam proposed a mural to be created on cement surface of one of the bridges that crosses Alhambra Creek on Marina Vista Boulevard at a recent Parks, Recreation, Marina and Cultural Commission (PRMCC) meeting.

The bridge located between both dams would host the mural on the street side surface, facing north towards Amtrak. Perryman hopes that the mural “will help people remember their valuable role in Martinez history.”

Mario Alfaro, the muralist who worked on Main Street Bridges of John Muir and Joe DiMaggio, has been in contact with Perryman. His cost would be around $6,000 total, which Perryman proposed be split between the City of Martinez and Worth a Dam evenly.

“We want to remind people of the living creek that runs right through the heart of Martinez, and that we can work together to solve problems,” said Perryman to the Commission.

Perryman mentioned that it is still unknown what caused the death of many Beavers earlier this year.

The odd thing I read last night, as the beaver moon was rising over the trees, was that it is also called “The Mourning Moon” – being a time to take stock of losses over the year, mourn them, and let things go.

When the ‘mourning moon’ rises, let things go

(CNN)A full moon in November, the last before the winter solstice, has different names and traditions, but they all carry a meaning that signals a time for a change.

Depending on the culture or heritage, the full moon in November has been called “snow moon,” “fog moon” and “moon of storms” — but “mourning moon” and “beaver moon” are the most widely recognized.

In pagan traditions, the rise of the “mourning moon” symbolizes a time to reflect on the year and make personal changes by letting go of the past. If there is a bad habit, fears or emotions that are weighing you down, send them off as the moon rises Wednesday evening.

And I thought, I guess that makes it for us a “beaver mourning” moon. Makes sense to me.



21 beavers shot in Scotland

   Posted by heidi08 On November - 25 - 2015Comments Off on 21 beavers shot in Scotland

This story is so upsetting. Two days ago I saw a comment on a scottish facebook page saying that farmers were shooting beavers. I wrote Paul Ramsay to find out what I could. He quickly wrote back that there had been several incidents and one farmer in particular bragging that he had “Shot 10”.

They were uncertain whether to go to the papers or not, because they feared a negative story could promote a backlash, resulting in more beavers dying..

Looks like the cats outta the bodybag.

Farmers shooting invading Tayside beavers

But it has now emerged that the bodies of 21 beavers have been discovered with gunshot wounds since the end of 2012.

Farmers and other landowners are suspected of being responsible for the slaughter and have been urged by conservationists 

to adopt non-lethal methods to control the species.

The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS) has examined the bodies of 23 beavers in the Tayside area and concluded that two died in road accide

nts and the rest were shot dead.

At present, a licence is not needed to shoot beavers as they have no legal protection in the UK. However, possessing and moving a dead beaver is not legal without a licence.

Why on earth should we be surprised at this story? Just because beavers were extinct for 400 years, and scraped their way back from the bistory pile, doesn’t mean a farmer won’t shoot them now. I mean, they happily shoot rabbits, foxes, and badgers. So why wouldn’t they shoot beavers?

The very slanted article is the best answer I could have thought of to Paul’s question. No matter how responsibly you sit on the story and consider your cautions, its going to break soon enough anyway.

Better to make sure you’re in front of it.

Beaver Moon.

Tonight is a full beaver moon. So when you’re looking up  in ghostly wibderm think of our Scottish friends.

Live and learn…sometimes it happens and sometimes it doesn’t

   Posted by heidi08 On November - 24 - 2015Comments Off on Live and learn…sometimes it happens and sometimes it doesn’t

KOLO stealKOLO is sorry for their rape and pillage of Cheryl’s photo and now that the story has aired and they have finished making use of their plunder, they inform me they will take it down.

Thank you for your email and bringing to our attention the uncredited beaver photo that was used as part of KOLO’s newscast last week. We apologize for any confusion and we have deleted the picture from our production file. Again, thank you for your email and we appreciate your viewership.

Scott Magruder
KOLO 8 News Now
Assignment Editor/Web Producer

Thank you so much Scott, for your kind apology for the “CONFUSION”. Copyright law is so confusing, how could you possibly know that a beautiful photo you find on the web is not yours to use in your for profit newscast. I’m sure you don’t have access to lawyers or legal advice yourself. And its mighty white of you to offer to close the barn door now that the horses are gone. Thanks.


Beavers Are Gnawing Problem for Michigan Co-op

Beaver-Damage-21A Michigan co-op had to gnaw on this problem: Beavers knocked out power to a distribution line in advance of fast-approaching winter weather along the Betsie River in northwestern Michigan.

“We had a fairly small outage, but when line crews showed up to make repairs they found that beavers had toppled a tree into one of our lines,” said Rachel Johnson, member services manager for Cherryland Electric Cooperative, based in Grawn.

More than a half-dozen birch trees, including some nearly three feet in diameter, had been felled not far from the co-op’s right of way on Nov. 19. Several others also showed telltale hourglass-shaped gnawing characteristic of beaver damage.

Hmm, okay. This sounds like a beaver problem, hourglass is telltale beaver chewing. But wait there’s more.

Some of the trees were stripped of their bark, something beavers do in late autumn as they store away bark as winter food.

Stripping trees of their bark? In late autumn? To store for food? Just the bark?

Well, I’m not the world’s expert on every single thing that beavers possibly do, and I only lived with them for 9 years, but I have NEVER seen them strip bark from a tree. And store it. How would they store this bark? I mean they couldn’t anchor it like branches in their food cache because bark is so light it would float away. Are you suggesting they have a pantry?

I’ve seen them CHEW trees, and bite off branches which they can then strip the bark from to eat. But I’ve never seen them chew bark off a standing tree, and could not find any information about this fanciful occurrence.  There are many reports about squirrels chewing bark, rabbits, porcupines and even a few horses. Bears scratch off bark, and deer and rub it off when they’re trying to remove antlers.

But not beavers.

I’m not sure if this confusion is from the Co-op, the reporter or both. But they apparently mean well which is not what always happens in Michigan.

Co-op employees made no effort to remove them or disturb their lodge sites beyond the pine trees near the river’s edge, said Johnson. “We’re hoping we can all live together in peace and harmony with the beavers.”