Posted by heidi08 On June - 26 - 2010Comments Off
This entry is part 1 of 14 in the series A Mom's Death


Mom beaver was examined at Lindsay and found to be in a very poor state. She had lost a great deal of weight and weighed in at only 34 lbs. The exam showed that one of her upper incisors had broken, and the lower incisors had penetrated her upper palate. The wound was infected and it was thought she was not strong enough to treat. She was euthanized and Jon and I brought her body was brought to UCDavis for necropsy. It is essential that we learn about the cause of her death so that we can be sure the kits aren’t at risk. Clearly her teeth grew too long because she wasn’t feeding properly to sharpen them down, and this was likely the result of another health problem which made it hard to feed. It is unbelievable to me that the kits were first seen 19 days ago. She just barely made it long enough to send them into the world. They are 7-8 weeks old now.  She gave them her very last strength, and for that I will always be grateful.

I got a call this morning from Moses who was at Starbucks and had been watching mom and trying to encourage her to go downstream. When Jon & I got there she was curled up in the grass on the starbucks side, very listless, soaking wet and disoriented. She tried once to swim and went across the creek and bumped into the cement wall. Then she came back to the grass and just lay there.

Lots of people were starting to come and watch, and mom was in no condition to get back to the lodge. She was staggering when she tried to move and her teeth were clicking sometimes, you could hear them. Lory came down after my email. Cheryl came out with an animal crate from IBRRC. She and Jon walked down from ward street in the creek. Mom didn’t move or react at all to their approach. Cheryl walked on the creekside and Jon carried the crate and set it with the door open in front of her. Cheryl put a towel in the crate and wrapped a towel around mom from behind and lifted her a little and she went peacefully into the crate. She turned around so she was facing the door, and just laid down. Cheryl and jon laid a towel over the crate and carried it down through the water and back up onto the bank at ward street.

The four of us drove to the Wildlife Hospital at Lindsay and Cheryl’s friend Pam(whose Martinez husband is appears in the video letter to the mayor)  met us. Mom was peaceful and not reactive during the ride, chewing sometimes on her towel. She did not smell at all of castor meaning her oil glands had probably stopped working so she was completely unable to groom herself. They brought her in and will call us when they know anything. The vet on duty used to work with Cheryl at IBRRC so she knows all about the beavers and we told them about her condition. On the way we called Jean and she met us afterwards for breakfast where we talked about it.

Honestly when I went down this morning I purposely decided not to bring a camera because I thought it would just be too sad, but I wish I had filmed it so you could all see how completely calm and unpanicked mom was. she just was in no condition to react, and if we had left her alone she was in such a visible part of the creek that people would have intervened and/or called animal control. This way she was completely protected by us and not at all agitated or frightened. It was almost like she knew we wouldn’t harm her, and it certainly felt right, after everything we have been through and all the mornings I have spent with mom to have her riding peacefully in my subaru. We will be out tonight to make sure the kits are feeding and happy. It was becoming clear that the family has already transitioned and the kits have been relying on the yearlings care more and more, which is just like we’d hope.

I’m very grateful for everyone’s help this morning, and grateful that mom gave us the easiest possible decision about whether, when and how to intervene. The saddest part for me is thinking about how hard she must have worked to stick around and care for those three new lives. We can all be grateful for her remarkable parenting and the 15 live births she allowed us all to enjoy.

I thought this morning of this quote from one of my favorite books ever written. It is an amazing tale of a young girl during the holocaust, fearlessly and compassionately narrated by “Death”.

Lastly; the Hubermans



He was tall in the bed and I could see the silver through his eyelids. His soul sat up. It met me. Those kinds of souls always do – the best ones. The ones who rise up and say, “I know who you are and I am ready. Not that I want to go, of course, but I will come.” Those souls are always light because more of them have been put out. More of them have already found their way to other places. This one was set out by the breath of an accordion, the odd taste of champagne in summer, and the art of promise-keeping. He lay in my arms and rested.

Markus Zusak: The Book Thief

Come tonight if you want to see reassuring beavers and comfort your hearts. Thank you all for your caring and concern. I will make sure to update as soon as we know anything about mom’s health.


This Time Last Year

Posted by heidi08 On June - 9 - 2011Comments Off
This entry is part 2 of 14 in the series A Mom's Death
Today’s the day, remember it?
When first I spied a beaver kit
A little swim, a little chew
Doing just what beavers do.

He was so small from nose to tail
His movements hesitant and frail
He barely dove, and when he tried
He floated up without a guide

Two days hence we found a brother
Then saw them joined by yet another
Three kits swam and chewed and cried
A few brief weeks and mother died.

Today’s a year, I can’t believe
The changes that have made us grieve
Mom is gone, the home they built
The dams forlorn – their ponds all spilt.

No man nor city hurt their fate
‘Twas nature flooded down their gate
We did our best, but such are courses
They suffered most from natural forces.

We wish them well and fondly savor
Three plump kits whose goals still waiver
While they are near we watch and hope
Whatever nature brings, they’ll cope.
Heidi Perryman


Posted by heidi08 On June - 27 - 2010Comments Off
This entry is part 2 of 14 in the series A Mom's Death

Last night we went anxiously to see what happened with our newly “orphaned” kits. The day’s loss was heavy on our hearts but we were worried that our kits could face a tough road ahead. I had a long conversation with Sharon Brown of Beavers: Wetlands and Wildlife about whether our kits were old enough to stop nursing. She assured me they were. And then we watched and waited.

The biyearling (one of our three kits from 2008) has been hanging around the pond more than usual. S/he used to head downstream for long forages on his own. The last few days s/he has been much closer to home and there have been several protective tail slaps seen. This is a sleek, handsome, nearly adult beaver. Last night they approached the area where the kit was feeding and we were hopeful for a full on acceptance of him or her as parent. It didn’t happen at first.

The biyearling brought branches from the dam into the lodge. Then went up on his own and gathered some from the area of the felled tree and brought those in as well, like a suitor bearing daisies to win the girl. He or she swam around protectively and made their presence known. Then we saw this. I’m leaving the audio in on purpose so you can hear the kit whining for care and attention. I wish the sounds of human weeping weren’t also audible, but it was a long day and the whole scene was heart-wrenching.

I realized at this moment that our kits have been “acting older” than they are because of mom’s health. Their foraging and being out on their own was merely an attempt to get food that they couldn’t receive with her. With mom there, even sick, the yearling felt less responsibility to step up and take care of them. Now that mom was gone, our babies were acting like babies again. And our yearling was becoming a parent.

We haven’t heart adult-directed whining for a week or more. Or seen a beaver back-ride since that first film of baby and mom. It’s as if our kits were given a fresh start last night. They get to be cared for and babied. And their dependency activated remarkable parenting in the yearling. It was truly lovely to see.

The light was fading fast, but in the above you should dimly be able to see two kits perched on the biyearlings back and carried into the lodge. Our babies can be babies again, and  in the span of 24 hours our biyearling has become a remarkable parent. Surely some of this process is instinctual, activated by the need of the kits and the corresponding need to nurture. But some of this parenting must be learned, because our biyearling had the very best possible teacher on how to be a mom.

The teacher herself would be so proud.

Dad Beaver Seen

Posted by heidi08 On June - 28 - 2010Comments Off
This entry is part 3 of 14 in the series A Mom's Death

For the first time since Mom’s death Saturday, father beaver was seen. I guess Sarah was right about grieving for a few days because we have been looking for him. Today he was seen mudding the downside of the dam, and then choosing a huge branch to bring into the lodge for the kits. We also saw the yearling tonight and all three kits having a ‘push match’ in the water. Now our bi-yearling has all the help he needs!


Posted by heidi08 On June - 29 - 2010Comments Off
This entry is part 4 of 14 in the series A Mom's Death

Last night we saw two beautiful things that lightened our hearts a great deal: Dad and 3. We wondered where Dad has been and wondered if Sarah’s comments about grieving at the loss of the mate were accurate. How could it be true? Weren’t we just talking about rodents? Would they really notice if a mate had died? But we didn’t see dad for three days after mom’s death. And when he appeared yesterday he looked a little looser in the skin, a little older. We know exactly how he feels. He went straight for a nice cottonwood branch and snagged it to bring into the lodge, where he stayed while the bi-yearling went for his alone time. We were so relieved to have him back and playing for the home team.

Later we saw the three kits together for the first time since Father’s day. There had been a very narrow otter event last week, meriting tail slaps from two adult beavers and some chasing. We feared the worst but were doing our bests to stay positive and remember that just because you ‘have’ three doesn’t mean you see them all at the same time. This is horrible footage and very blurry but you can see we definitely have our ‘tripod’ of beaver kits. We were very happy to see the family of five last night.

We had nice articles in the CCTimes and the Gazette, as well as reports on KCRA, channel 11 and channel 7 via Bay City News. There has been a fairly steady stream of condolences from people moved by her death, and a host of visitor’s down at the dam. One of our most touching responses was the donation of five dollars from a child’s allowance in the South Bay.  We are working to incorporate a memorial to mom into the tshirt design for this year and talking with the metal worker who did the lovely beaver at the library about adding a memorial to the sheetpile wall. I am grateful that we have come this far, and that the family seems to be in good shape, but every part of me is exhausted by feeling and it has been a rough week. Let’s hope the next ones are lighter and brighter.


Posted by heidi08 On July - 5 - 2010Comments Off
This entry is part 5 of 14 in the series A Mom's Death

Photo: Cheryl Reynolds

Last night Worth A Dam kept an eye on our beavers while all the world was watching brightly colored explosions and some of its inhabitants were making rather noisy explosions of their own. After the first big bang at the bridge the bi-yearling seemed to make a decision that he wasn’t going over that dam until things got quieter. He carried large branches into the lodge so the kits would feed inside and we didn’t see much of them for the duration of the night. At one point he sat motionless in the water, watching the bank to see if there was trouble. Whale-watchers call that behavior ‘logging’ but we had never seen it in our beavers. Clearly he knew tonight was different.

Necropsy results received from UC Davis via Lindsay last night indicate the following conditions present in Mom beaver:

1. Meningoencephalitis, (inflammation of the layers protecting the brain and the brain), associated with amoeba or protozoans
2. Pneumonia
3. Malocclusion and secondary gingivitis, (due to the broken upper tooth)
4. Conjunctivitis grossly, but only mild to moderate.inflammation on histology

Conversations with our vet friends have suggested that the infections could all have been triggered by the broken tooth and spread from there. We will keep asking and trying to understand the sequence. For now it means that she was dealing with a host of problems, and we are again awed that she was able to bring three healthy kits into the world.

When we left last night at 11 things had calmed down and the steady stream of cars had cleared from downtown. Two cautious kits made their silent paddle around the pond to get branches on their own.  All the appreciative people, all the families with children, all the defiant teens and all the angry drunks went homeward. We wished the beavers a happy independence day and left them to their privacy.

If seven maids with seven mops
Swept it for half a year.
Do you suppose,” the Walrus said,
“That they could get it clear?”
“I doubt it,” said the Carpenter,
And shed a bitter tear.

Lewis Carrol

I haven’t posted about the trauma in the gulf lately not because it isn’t ongoing, and not because it isn’t continually horrific beyond anything we can possibly imagine but because we’ve had a singular focus lately for obvious reasons. This video caught my attention today and just had to be posted. Dr. Pincetich used to work for SPAWN. I tracked him down last year and we exhanged information about the positive relationship between beavers and salmon. He even invited me to come to a watershed training he was doing at Samuel Taylor and say a few words about beavers. SPAWN will be at the beaver festival this year, but Dr. Pincetich has moved onto to studying turtles. Wow, some timing. He has pretty alarming things to say about Corexit. I particularly like his language about ‘turning a two dimensional problem into a three dimensional problem.’



Posted by heidi08 On July - 3 - 2010Comments Off
This entry is part 6 of 14 in the series A Mom's Death