Bearly Trying

   Posted by heidi08 On August - 27 - 2016ADD COMMENTS

We went down to see our actual beavers last night. But there was a clamor of noise you can’t imagine and we just observed sneaky furtive dives as the beavers kept  mostly out of view. There were helicopters and police cars on every corner, and we even watched one cop walk down to the creek to check upstream. Apparently a handcuffed black woman had escaped when they were trying to transport her to the detention facility and they were sparing NO expense to get her back. For a while the sky was humming with copters and there was a squad car on every corner down town. By 8:45 they had called off the search because of the ‘nonviolent nature of her crimes’. 

And it was dark and not as much fun to use their toys looking for her.

The whole thing made me think of this article and what considerable lengths men will go to justify using a new toy they want to play with – even if it doesn’t work at all.

CaptureBeavers Not So Eager To Rebuild Dam After Biologist’s Trick

He replaced a culvert with a bridge, but that just led the beavers to put in a new dam above the crossing.

Enter Scott Harris.

He’s one of WDFW’s private lands biologists, a man on a mission to help property owners in coastal counties deal with deer, elk, bears, beavers and other critters that get in their gardens, treat their berries as buffet lines and fence with their fencing.

Mostly it involves encouraging the critters to go elsewhere through various and often inventive means.

Harris had an interesting idea for beating the beavers giving the forester fits, and it didn’t involve setting up one of those metal beaver deceiver contraptions. He got ahold of something a lot cheaper — the coat of a fellow furbearer.

Once the forest manager got the permits to take out the latest dam and had removed it, Harris strung up strips of bear hide where the blockage had been, as well as underneath the bridge.

The idea is that the smell of the predator discourages the roly poly rodents from returning. Harris says it’s an old trick in the nonlethal toolbox of timber companies and a federal agency that deals with wildlife damage issues. But while it’s been used around culverts, apparently it hasn’t been tried under bridges before, he says.

“It is not 100 percent effective. There are some fearless beavers out there,” Harris says.

Every other time this particular dam had been destroyed, the beavers had begun reconstruction within a day, finishing the job within three, WDFW reported.

So, is the hide helping? It’s going on three weeks now and Mother Nature’s engineers haven’t reported back to work, Harris told me late last week

bearskinSo rather than use the tool that is proven to work, this particular WDFW officer got some strips of bear hid (GEE I WONDER HOW) and hung them up to scare off the beavers. I’m sure he always wanted that fireplace rug anyway.

The truly stunning part of this article is that this happened in WASHINGTON STATE where there are more smart beaver folk  gathered in one place than there are combined anywhere else in the world. The state that was first to have a beaver deceiver website in Kings County back in 2006.

I’m just soo curious how this is going to work, aren’t you? My money is on the beavers using that bear hide to plug dam holes within the week.


A treasure box of beaver stories

   Posted by heidi08 On August - 26 - 2016ADD COMMENTS

There are quite a few beaver treats to enjoy today. I guess we should start out with the ‘day off’ I gave myself after Placer. I had been waiting to try this and just needed the space between deadlines. From now on I’m officially working on the beaver mania clock, but this was pure enjoyment. Alert readers might recognize the audio from earlier in the year’s Scientific American podcast. But the graphics are all mine.

I sent this to Nick myself and Michael Pollock did told me he did too, but the champagne and thank you bouquet hasn’t arrived yet. I’ll let you know when it does.

Here’s another remarkable treat that arrived yesterday, this one completely without Heidi’s fingerprints. The funny thing is that my father worked for PGE all his life from the lowest oiler in Oakland to the coporate office on the 35th flood in San Francisco as General Manager of Operations. This  is how he found a job for his shiftless immigrant son-in-law 30 years ago when the green card finally landed. Both men went on to retire from the company with generous pensions and mostly fond memories but maybe a little beaver intelligence survives in their absence?

Shasta County: PG&E Moves Gas Line to Prevent Beaver-Caused Leaks

ANDERSON — PG&E crews responded to a seemingly routine report of a gas odor on a rural residential road outside this Shasta County city. But what they found surprised them. PG&E crews recently relocated a gas line in Shasta County because of beavers chewing the line.  They located the leak and dug to expose the gas line for repairs, revealing a void around the plastic line and chew marks on the pipe.

The void was a beaver den, which had likely been abandoned as the beaver came across the gas line and perhaps thinking it was a tree root, chewed away. As soon as the rodent punctured the line releasing gas, the beaver apparently gave up and left the unfinished den.

We knew the first time it happened it was a beaver,” said David Ferguson, a gas maintenance and construction supervisor in Redding. “We made the repair and thought it was an isolated incident,” he added. “But after it happened a few more times, about once every one or two years, we realized we needed to find a solution.”

Cherokee Drive on the road in southern Shasta County. The gas line lay next to the banks of Anderson Creek Overflow, which in recent years has had an incursion of beavers as the industrious rodent reclaims developed areas. On Wednesday (Aug. 24), PG&E crews finished the relocation job and began serving the four residential customers with the new gas line at a safe distance away from the beaver habitat.

And no I’m NOT making this up. I guess the explosions in San Bruno a few gave them so much trouble they are bending over backwards to show they’re nice guys? Maybe the decision was purely fiscal since sending someone out year year after year to fix the chewed pipe cost money. Whatever the reason I’m dam proud of PGE this morning!

Now, if you regretted not being a fly on the wall for the Placer presentation you’re in luck. I think this should be cued up right to watch on your own. There are only a few places where I flubbed up, but I’m still quite sure its the BEST beaver presentation Placer County as ever had.

(And I’m looking at you, Mary Tappel.)

Beavers win all around!

   Posted by heidi08 On August - 25 - 2016ADD COMMENTS

A local paper wrote about my Placer presentation. Based on his questions, I was worried the article would be all about mosquitoes but it turned out okay


– Heidi Perryman, of non-profit, Martinez-based Worth A Dam, spoke in favor of beaver dams, saying that with techniques like beaver-proof culvert protectors, communities and the large, toothy rodent can live peacefully together. Jack Sanchez, founder of Save American River Salmon and Steelhead, went so far as to say in introducing Perryman that there would be no need for dams like Shasta if beaver dams were allowed to proliferate and store water. Martinez now has a Beaver Festival every August to celebrate how the community has learned to accept a beaver population. About seven beavers make Martinez their home, on average.

I’m certain I said nothing about culverts in my meager 15 minutes. He must have drawn on his own experience with beaver problems? But okay.  The really exciting news is that someone from CDFG saw this post yesterday and wrote me about looking for folks interested in a beaver reintroduction program in the sierras and had some ideas about funding. I knew this was going to be a really popular idea with several major beaver players in the state so I sent out an email blast to make them aware. You won’t believe how quickly they responded. Fingers crossed the right folks will get together to get moving on this.

(Even though, based on the depredation permits we reviewed last year, they don’t need to relocate beavers so much as to just STOP TRAPPING the ones that are already there!)

Meanwhile TWO beaver books have been nominated for the  “Lane Anderson award for Canadian science writing“. Both are good friends of this website and I could NOT be happier for them or for beavers.

Both are wonderfully rich and detailed works that taught even ME something new about beavers. Winners will be announced in late September. May the best beaver book win!

It’s obviously the year of the beaver for our northern cousins, and the mountie story is just icing on the cake. Here’s a nice interview with the pretty thoughtful man whose action inspired a nation!

I love the part about wanting to give back to nature.His impluse created such a stir it even made the weather channel. No really.

Outlasting the Outliers

   Posted by heidi08 On August - 24 - 20163 COMMENTS

I was never very good at math, but for some reason I really got statistics. (Unlike Jon who is excellent at math and dismal in is stats class. Go figure.)  That way of thinking about numbers just made sense to me. I could put the formulas together and analyze what came out. That said, I would be the first to admit that I remembered only what I needed to know to graduate and retained a chalk outline of the information in my brain once the dissertation was signed.  But it generally helps me read research better and understand what was being done.

What remains of the chalk outline tells me that regression analysis is something you do when you have a bunch of numbers you’re trying to tease out the most significant factor that makes them different from each other. Why do some kids drop out of college and others succeed? Is it money? IQ? Parental support? Social skills on campus? etc. And of course identifying the primary cause is important because you want to use that in making future decisions down the line. So when a friend of a friend in the field of social stats for medication offered to work with the county portion of our depredation stats I was very excited.

This is what he wrote at the time:

I used the square miles to predict the expected # of permits for each county, bases on the square miles of water.  Then I looked at the actual number of permits, and calculated a ratio of the two.  The data and graph are attached.regression analysis

You have one county that is clearly an outlier – Placer. This country issued almost 7 times as many permits as expected. 

So yesterday I spoke to the Board of Supervisors of the outliers in question. The county chambers were  high tech – there were four large wall screens and the entire meeting was streamed to Tahoe where it aired live with participants. There were two computer/media guys on hand to make sure everything ran smoothly and two women taking notes up front. The Commissioners filed into their seats on the dais and the meeting started a little after nine. There was an award for a stalwart Rosie the riveter airline mechanic who had worked for years and years at the historic society, and then several multi million dollar contracts were approved for snow plow equipment and police squad cars. You really got the impression that this was a county with discretionary funds.

And then there was me and beavers.

A CDFW supervisor from Tahoe introduced me and then Jack Sanchez from SARSAS added a nice introduction as well.

Heidi  has become the nation’s foremost beaver specialist as a result of a beaver family moving into Martinez Creek in front of a Starbuck’s and producing kits.  She started Worth A Dam and has spread the beneficial aspects of beavers in waterways worldwide.

Because Placer County allowed housing development too close to its waterways, an adversarial relationship has developed with beavers.  I believe if the English, Russians and beaver trappers had not exterminated beavers in Ca in 18th and 19th centuries, we would have no need for our Rim Dams, Shasta, Folsom and Oroville.

I present with great pleasure Dr. Heidi Perryman to talk about beavers.

My talk went as it was supposed to, and everything worked the way it was supposed to. The four screens displayed my slides which were also streamed in Tahoe, and even without video and 8 the last minute surprise I think the message really got across. When it was over several commissioners asked questions and repeated the phrase “Seven times more”  with horror. I really had the impression that the talk registered with them and left a mark. Vice chair Jennifer Montgomery even said she remembered our friends at the Sierra Wildlife Coalition in Tahoe saying something similar years ago when the beavers were killed at Kings Beach.

When I left the meeting I was followed out by the CDFW man who thanked me for an excellent presentation and talked about how they had made a mistake in Tahoe years ago because they didn’t understand and now knew better, and a reporter for the Auburn newspaper who wanted to talk about 7 times more and ask about mosquitoes. Jack and his wife came to say what a good presentation it was and so did one of is board members. They had already scheduled a private meeting tomorrow with one of the commissioners to follow up!

Honestly, we floated home feeling that we had really done something useful. I thought about Robin from Napa getting the PRA in first place so we could analyze the data, and Jon and I slogging through all those grizzly permits, and me writing my grad school friend in a panic about the data, and her asking her friend from Infometrics who generously donated his time and my meeting Jack when I presented at the salmon conference in Santa Barbara, and us all collaborating to prove that beaver belonged in the sierras, and I really felt like all the piano strings had pulled in just the right way to make this happen.

Afterwards Commissioner Jim Holmes sent me this very nice note.

Dear Dr. Perryman,  Thank you so much for your very informative presentation on Urban Beavers. It gave me a wonderful overall picture of the importance of beavers in our ecosystem.

The recorded meeting should be available soon, and in the meantime I am definitely very aware of the step they took forward and the role we played in making that happen. Sometimes I think what I like best of all about this beaver chapter of my life is the self-guiding interdependence of it – weaving the help of friends into a creation of my own imagining without anyone telling me what I should do and letting that make a difference.

On Guard for Beavers

   Posted by heidi08 On August - 23 - 2016ADD COMMENTS

I’m off to Placer this morning (which I’m starting to think stands for “Perryman lectures and cites endless research) but I’ll leave you in very good hands. Trust me. It’s better with the soundtrack.

Mountie + baby beaver = most Canadian photo ever?

It’s hard to imagine anything more Canadian — or more adorable — than a photo of a Mountie cuddling a baby beaver. Sure enough, it happened recently at Regina’s Salthaven West wildlife rehabilitation centre.

The centre helps injured and abandoned birds and wild animals, and in May received four beaver kits whose mother had been killed near Fort Qu’Appelle. Jason Pinder, who has volunteered his time with Salthaven for the past five years, works a day job as an RCMP corporal.

mountie w kitDon’t say I never did anything for you. Because that should satisfy your cute fix for a while. And deserves a soundtrack.



   Posted by heidi08 On August - 22 - 2016Comments Off on Restorations

Rickipedia to the rescue writes:

I edited the page to make it clear that the Martinez beavers are, in fact, notable. This is key to being in Wikipedia. A book reference is a nice way to do it – i then contrast to the Joltin’ Joe DiMaggio statement which was not relevant to the beavers. So I changed the second sentence as follows:”Best known as the longtime home of naturalist John Muir, Martinez has become a national example of urban stream restoration utilizing beaver as ecosystem engineers.” and added Ann Riley’s book as the reference for this statement.

Should be good now.

If you want to check it out for yourself go here.  Sometimes you have the good fortune to cross paths with someone that winds up being really, really useful. I first met Rickipedia when he contacted this website wondering whether beavers could have historically maintained the stream behind his house in Santa Clara. The ‘experts’ told him there were none out that way, but he wasn’t so sure. Then I met USFS worker at the 2010 Flyway festival who told me about archeologist carbon testing the beaver dam in the Sierras and I had an amazing conversation with him. Then we all decided there might be enough to turn it into a paper or two. And you know the rest.

Thank you so much Rickipedia for getting the Martinez Beavers back on track!

I spent most of yesterday working on this. It was inspired by something Mary Obrien said during an interview when she noted something like “when a beaver moves into a stream it’s like all these other species are riding on its tail!” A gifted artist could easily have painted the different species, but I possessed no skill but thievery to snag various logo images from off the web.

riding on usLayering them together to fit the tail was really complicated to do but I’m nearly happy with how this came out. It gets across the general idea. Now we just need to inspire the artist who will do it correctly.just the tail

I get by with a little help from my friends!

   Posted by heidi08 On August - 21 - 2016Comments Off on I get by with a little help from my friends!

Yesterday was all about help from old friends. I was didn’t hear back from Rickipedia when I notified him that the Martinez Beaver entry was being challenged, but I did see this on the page later in the day. So I’m assuming the elves have done their job for this particular shoemaker. Thank you elves!

CaptureIan medals

I practiced my new and revised speech three times and its hovering nicely around 14 minutes, so I’m feeling good about Tuesday. I started to vaguely think about beaver mania and realize I have no idea whatsoever how I’ll convert a movie from my tiny little mac to run on a big screen without the finished product looking horrible.

I realized I knew happened to know someone who had already dealt with that problem more than once for his film festival career and contacted Ian (Timothy) Boone, who was happy to walk me through some steps. Mostly he cheered me by being impressed that I was working with the very old and very wonderful version of iMovie 6HD, which I have worked very hard to preserve because everyone said its the best. And Ian concurs. I think we’ll be able to rig a nice export that will work on the big screen without being a pixel fest. Thank goodness for him though, because 1080p, h264 and NTSC DV is not a language I’m comfortable speaking!

I was told that the Contra Costa eye column will write a little about the beaver festival making it in the congressional record, but I don’t see it yet. I’ll fill you in as soon as it emerges. For now let me just do some visual share and tell. I don’t know where this particular beaver pond is but this photo showed up yesterday on my google feed. It’s nice to look at but I am quite certain I will never be crossing it!

Endless boardwalks across the beaver ponds – beautiful even in the rain