Good Riddance

   Posted by heidi08 On July - 28 - 2014ADD COMMENTS

The Wreck of the Beaver is passed by the Canadian Pacific steamship Empress of India off Prospect Point, 1892. Stamped July 13, 1930 on the back. Bailey Brothers/PNG files.


The SS Beaver ran aground off Prospect Point, the most famous shipwreck in Vancouver history

 On July 26, 1888, the old Hudson’s Bay steamboat The Beaver ran aground on the rocks off Observation Point in Stanley Park (today’s Prospect Point).

 “The wind was blowing pretty fresh and with the strong tide running carried the famous old craft onto the rocks just at the entrance to the Narrows,” reported the Daily News-Advertiser on July 28.

 It would become Vancouver’s most famous shipwreck, immortalized in photos, paintings and mementoes that early Vancouverites took off the wreck as souvenirs.

 Liquor may have had something to do with the wreck. A Vancouver pioneer named Simson told Major Matthews that Capt. Marchant was “an old drunk” and that the crew “were all drunk the night the Beaver went on the rocks.”

 A perfect end to an evil death vessel that brought Hudson Bay literally acres of beaver (and otter) skins in its miserable 50 year life. It was built to run up and down the pacific from Alaska to Vancouver stopping and restocking the Hudson Bay Company fur trading posts with every single beaver that could be ripped from the streams along the way.

A fitting week to celebrate its death with the VII annual beaver festival on the calendar.



Beavers make Strange Bedfellows

   Posted by heidi08 On July - 27 - 20142 COMMENTS

Let’s start with a word from duck hunters. Now everyone I’ve shared this with has reacted with a “let the ducks live” remark, but you have to realize the pragmatic value of articles like this. Right now we need ALL the beaver supporters we can muster, so if people let them be because they want more fish to catch or ducks to shoot, we should realize that they’re still allies. Beavers make strange bedfellows.

Ducks in Small Places

Matt Gnatkowski

 One of the best friends of hunters who like to hunt ducks in small places is the beaver. Industrious beavers create a lot of ponds and sloughs that make for perfect out-of-the-way duck habitat. Mallards, wood ducks and black ducks like using the flooded timber created by beavers. To find these duck hotspots you need to scout constantly. Keep track of where you see beaver activity during grouse hunting trips, during the bow or rifle deer seasons or when snowmobiling, and make it a point to visit them during the waterfowl season. If ducks aren’t using the ponds when you arrive, wait until evening. Many times the birds will be off feeding elsewhere and return to roost on the pond toward evening. The sky can be full of birds as the sun slips behind the horizon.

 Wildlife biologists can steer you toward areas that have high beaver numbers. Talk to hunters, trappers and anglers who might be able to lead you to beaver ponds. If practical, you might want to even rent an airplane for a short jaunt around areas of beaver activity to pinpoint ponds. Beavers can create a lot of small-water duck havens in a short period of time. Where there was only a trickle of water today can be a pond of several acres tomorrow. And it won’t take long for the ducks to find it.

Let’s face it. Duck hunters have more powerful friends then we do. They have magazines and sponsors and legislation and fawning politicians. And would it be so horrible if more duck hunters made the intuitive leap to realize that fewer beavers mean fewer ducks? No, it would not. I realized when I read Three Against the Wilderness that wise hunters and trappers could be among our best allies -  once they got the message. And in order for that to happen we need to stop being mortified enough to talk to them.

Consider this website de-mortification training.

(It’s a strange thing to be realizing in the same day that duck hunters help beavers and the Nature Conservancy kills them. But there it is. Life is full of surprises.)

On to Whidby Island in Washington State where so many folks are fond of beavers they don’t know what to do with them.

A beaver lodge sits at the southern edge of Miller Lake, about 30 yards from a beaver dam. Lake levels are on the rise, and along with other impacts, are raising concern among South Whidbey residents.
— image credit: Justin Burnett / The Record

 Whidbey’s beaver population: residents chew on problem, seek county help

 “When there’s nature and people, you have to come up with solutions,” Kay said.

 In some cases, however, beavers have won friends. A population at Miller Lake is credited with vastly expanding the lake, but also creating water views. For Bob Olin, the edge of his backyard that borders the lake was once dominated by poplar and willow trees. They are all now long gone.

 “There were 10,000 of them right out there,” said Olin, motioning to his backyard.  “No, I’m quite happy with the beaver,” he added.

 Jamie Hartley, critical areas planner for Island County, said county code defers to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife for its guidelines. The state allows residents to shoot or relocate beavers as a last resort to other types of mitigations, including the installation of culverts or beaver deceivers.

Steve Erickson, with the Whidbey Environmental Action Network, said that shooting or trapping the occasional beaver is not going to really impact the population. However, farmers need to learn to deal with changing conditions and coexist with the beaver population.

 “The idea of a pretty farm where it’s all static and never going to change is a fantasy,” Erickson said. “People are going to need to change the way they are dealing with nature and work with it.”

 And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why Washington is the most beaver-intelligent state in the nation – maybe world. Apropos of nothing, the beaver friendly Whiby website “Tidallife” has our website in their blogroll and it’s how we get a significant number of visitors every month.

Now back to Devon, where musician Adrian Forester has this to say about the River Otter beavers.

CaptureI’m trying a new spam filter on comments this morning, and it appears to be working. Every day we get about 20 comments that I have to weed through from spam-bots telling me to buy sexual aids or that my site could get more hits if I did X.

Help me try it out by leaving a comment, will you?

To Beaver or Not to Beaver…that is the Question

   Posted by heidi08 On July - 26 - 20141 COMMENT

Ahh, the age old dilemma that most cities spent 3 whole minutes wrestling with. Kill them? Or let them Be-[aver]? Mind you in Martinez it took 200 people at 2 meetings over 7 months to convince 5 council member, but we’re exceptional. Most places never get the message.

Take Pennsylvania for example, where they’re killing beavers to protect Old Growth Hemlock Forests. At least they had the decency to pretend to struggle with the decision. But we know better. This is Pennsylvania for petesake, where the trapper said he was only going to remove the “soldier beavers.” Remember? One of my very favorite columns EVER.

 Beavers Versus Old Growth: The Tough Reality of Conservation

 Beavers Versus Old Growth: The Tough Reality of Conservation July 25, 2014  |  by: Matt Miller  |  7 Beavers do a lot of ecological good. But what happens when they become too abundant? Photo: © Kent Mason  Beavers do a lot of ecological good. But what happens when they become too abundant? Photo: © Kent Mason - See more at:

 Conservationists know beavers perform valuable ecological services, creating important habitat through their dams and tree clearing. They’re charismatic animals. Their recovery in the eastern United States is a stunning conservation success.

 What happens when those thriving beavers threaten old-growth hemlock groves, one of the most imperiled habitats in the East?

 That’s the situation at the Conservancy’s Woodbourne Forest Preserve in north-central Pennsylvania. It is forcing conservationists to choose between beavers and old-growth trees.

 To some, this is a no-brainer for a wildlife sanctuary: leave it to beaver.

 After all, haven’t beavers been shaping the forests for millennia? Isn’t it natural?

 The reality is much more complicated. If people and beavers are to exist and thrive together, sometimes tough choices have to be made.

 Guess what they decide? If beavers and people are making things hard for old growth Hemlock forests, will they kill the people?

“Beavers can do a heck of a lot of good,” says Hardisky. “But they can also do a lot of damage.”

 It’s easy to say that beavers should be left to their own devices. It’s much harder to say that when they’re flooding your home or farm field or local road.

 “The reality is, we have to balance the beaver population with human needs,” says Hardisky. “The state can support a large beaver population, but there is a social carrying capacity – how many beavers people can live with. We manage them so there is a stable, healthy population.”

This necessitated a difficult decision:

 Beavers or Hemlocks?

Ooh Ooh Call on me! I know this one!

“We have to decide what we want for the forest, not only at Woodbourne, but across the country,” says Eckley. “In this case, the beaver population is thriving. That’s a success. But beavers may not be the only consideration. I think old-growth forest is important, too. This is what we as a society have to decide. There are no easy answers here. We have to be informed and think about what we want the future forest to look like.”

I suppose if there were a real trial to decide which species should live, it would include an examination of what each species contributes. How many birds, fish and mammals depend on old growth hemlock? Versus how many fish, birds,  mammals and insects depend on beavers?  I wish I got to say that in court.I mean it is called the NATURE CONSERVANCY not the OLD HEMLOCK CONSERVANCY.  The article makes it seem like the rising water level killing trees is ruining old growth, so I commented this of course.

Why would scientists use a false dichotomy to make a decision? In stall flow devices to regulate dam height (well researched and studied all over the hemisphere) and save the trees AND the beavers. I know flow devices work because my own city installed one 7 years ago to prevent flooding, and now because of our safe beaver-tended wetlands we regularly see otter, steelhead, woodduck and even mink in our urban stream.

 Solve the problem, not the symptom.

Mr. Hardisky from PA Game Commission wrote back staunchly defending the decision:

Water control devices installed in beaver dams are usually effective in regulating water levels, but do nothing to address the problems of dwindling food supplies and direct damage to the surrounding old growth forest. In this case, you cannot have your cake and eat it too. “Saving” beavers at the Woodbourne Forest Preserve will result in additional loss of old growth trees. Population reduction was the most responsible solution to this problem. Water control devices have been used at Woodbourne in the past and will likely be used in the future to help control flooding and protect native plant communities. These devices are not fool-proof, however. Controlling water levels in beaver wetlands in conjunction with a regular, limited beaver harvest will extend the life of the beaver colony and the many benefits they provide by 10-20 years. If you do not remove beavers on a regular basis, they will eat themselves out of house and home … no food, no beavers, no environmental benefits. This was the exact scenario at the Woodbourne Forest Preserve. As the author noted in his week-long blog series, lack of human intervention can result in significant negative impacts to the environment and loss of plant communities such as old growth forests. Beavers have no significant predator other than man. It would be irresponsible for us to ignore what we have learned from sound science and modern wildlife management techniques.

To which I would point out that it’s not like beavers LOVE hemlock. They would much rather have some riparian willow, birch or aspen to munch on. Which would cost an afternoon and three busloads of boy scouts to stake into the mud, and thrive on beaver chewing and regrowth protecting the Hemlock trees for decades to come.

I’m sure Mr. Hardisky (if indeed that IS his real name! It sounds kind of like a bad melodrama…)  has a reason why that wouldn’t work either.

Saving beavers: A Change for the Better.

   Posted by heidi08 On July - 25 - 2014ADD COMMENTS

Build the Beaver Deceiver

So the folks on the Feather River Land Trust have learned from Brock Dolman that there are many good reasons to live with beaver, and they’re aiming to do just that by raising funds to install a flow device on the Feather River. (They mistakenly call it a beaver deceiver, when the project isn’t intended to protect a culvert, but their efforts are laudable anyway.) I wrote that Worth A Dam would help with a scholarship for materials if they contacted us through the website, so we’ll see what happens.

Ranching and farming is a fundamental part of the Feather River Region–and we are working hard to keep it that way. But sometimes land management practices, like removing beaver dams (and trapping beaver!) don’t jive with current science. Recently, the Feather River Land Trust has found itself in this predicament. A busy beaver on one of our Outdoor Education sites has built a series of dams, creating great habitat and backing up the creek. But our downstream neighbor has some thirsty cattle and a backhoe…

This leads us to our project: help us build a beaver deceiver!

Speaking of beavers with sucessful homes, this is a heart-warming story from the beaver-luvin’ Aspen Wildlife Sanctuary

Westy and Prez – Aspen’s Manitoba beavers

So what do you do when a beaver in Manitoba needs a home? Call Aspen. [Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary in Ontario]

 At least that was the solution for a second time this year when no facility in the prairie province was equipped to house an orphaned beaver kit.

 Beaver kits must spend two years being cared for, mimicking the two years they would spend with their parents in the wild, in order to survive when released.

 Last year, a lonely kit was found on a Manitoba trail, umbilical cord still attached, and rescued. Eventually, through the generosity of President Air Charter, the kit was shuttled to Ontario and spent the winter at Aspen. Prez remains at Aspen, growing and thriving with another beaver kit, and will overwinter once again before returning to Manitoba for release.

Aspen is fortunate to be among few wildlife rehabilitation centres equipped to care for beaver kits for these two-year periods. Thanks to donors, we have a series of enclosed pools to accommodate a few each year. Of course, there are limits, and a more modern system of pools and pumps would allow staff and volunteers to care for a greater number of these fascinating animals, while spending less time on the daily emptying and refilling of their swimming tanks – a time-consuming task with our current system

Just remember that. It’s TWO years to rehabilitate a kit. Shorter periods are not a favor to anyone. And places that received adorable kits as orphans, and keep them alive for a few fund- raising photo shoots before sticking them in a zoo or abandoning them to their fate are NOT in my good graces.

Just sayin’.

There is glorious news this morning, but before we appreciate its warm glow we need to pay attention to this bit of horrific gristle from Calgary. Mind you this is about 300 miles south of renown beaver researcher Dr. Glynnis Hood, 400 miles west of experienced flow device-installer Adrien Nelson and Fur-Bearer Defenders, and 500 miles north of beaver management expert Amy Chadwick of Montana. Calgary is surrounded by intelligence, but it apparently just isn’t sinking in.

Animal lover furious after beaver found trapped in Calgary park

CALGARY- An animal lover who came across a disturbing scene in a popular park has gone straight to the city to complain.

 Linda Lelonde says she and her husband were walking in Fish Creek Park on Tuesday evening, when they came across a beaver struggling in a trap.

 “I just happened to see the beaver laying in the grass in the ditch, and I said to my husband ‘something’s wrong, his tail is flapping.’”

 A jogger happened to come by moments later, and that’s when they realized the animal was in trouble.

 “[He] came up and was horrified, and told us [the beaver] was biting off his leg and was basically bleeding to death,” Lalonde remembers.

It’s not known if the beaver survived, as it was not in the trap when city workers showed up to collect it.

Why are city workers checking the trap anyway? Isn’t that the trappers job? Are you saying the city workers set the trap? That’s a horrifying thought. No offense, but I would have night mares if someone gave public works in Martinez a conibear. Are there any trapping regulations in Alberta at all? The article goes on to say that the beaver was blocking the culvert and baby strollers could have been blocked on the path if they didn’t do something. No, they didn’t think of installing a culvert protection fence, why do you ask?

The good news is that it was a sufficiently horrifying demonstration of trapping that folks are upset and there are many comments and a lot of interest in alternatives with the article. Keep at it Calgary. You’ll get there if enough people worry about their pets to push for change. And when your ready to change, we’ll help you get started.

Speaking of which, this new film of Urban Beavers was made by Daniel Pinker, Americorp intern for the Gresham Department of Environmental Services, just east of Portland. danielsDaniel wrote me a while ago asking if I might be willing to share footage of urban beavers for a film he was working on about beavers in cities. I’m sure you can guess what I answered.

This is an excellent place for my footage to be, but I had to fight waves of territorial reflex when I first watched it, especially dad coming over the primary with kit, and the tiny kit glimpsed in 2012. (They were such emotional moments after mom died!)

But it’s impossible (even for me) not to share with such an enormously pro-beaver message. This is really effective work. I only wish the film specifically said “Cities can live with beavers, in fact all the images you are watching happen to be  from one smart city that DID”.  I want this played at every city council meeting along the pacific states. And Daniel was very nice to add this.
more creditIt’s 1,274 miles from Calgary to Martinez. But you spanned the distance  this morning with a few short sentences.

The Best of ‘Times’

   Posted by heidi08 On July - 23 - 2014Comments Off

bay nature ad

 Martinez: Beavers in festival spotlight


MARTINEZ — A segment of Martinez’ wetlands will soon be teeming with life, along with its myriad microorganisms, lush foliage and robust array of fowl and creatures that are already present.

 The public will once again gather Saturday, Aug. 2, to celebrate an ever-expanding family of beavers who play a key role in creating such diversity — from one end of the food chain to the other — at the seventh annual Beaver Festival, featuring live music, wildlife exhibits from throughout the world, children’s activities and tours of the beavers’ environs.

This is a very good article. Not only does the author, Jennifer Shaw get the details right on the festival, she nails them remarkably on BEAVERS in general. The only thing this article is missing is photographs. Maybe they’ll be in the print version? But maybe there wasn’t space with all Jennifer’s awesome words. I’ll add some. Go read the whole thing. (The CC Times has a very bad habit of only keeping the article viewable for a month, so I’m making a backup right now.)

This year, an Amtrak train car of folks will be part of the coterie of beaver fans, as a retired curator of aquatic biology at the Oakland Museum of California — and self-proclaimed “chief creek snooper” at Flow Back in Time — helps to open their respective eyes about the eco-vibrancy of creek life.

straight train

Christopher Richards will lead the group out to Alhambra Creek’s inlet to put into context just how an industrious group of sleek-coated beavers have stabilized creek banks, decreased flooding risks through fostering the growth of the natural riparian vegetation, and assisted in restoring the natural function and hydrology of the stream.

 ”(Beavers) are the productivity, the agriculture for the critters in the creek,” he says, citing the beavers’ habitat as an illustration of how “we can manage, neglect or restore creeks in the urban Bay Area landscape.”

That should get some attention! I hope it gets picked up by a paper on the other side of the tunnel! In the mean time a huge round of applause for Deidre Martin who made the entire thing possible. She brought her children to see the beavers last summer and the furry ingrates didn’t even show up! But she decided then and there to contribute.

Deidre Martin, a San Francisco resident and volunteer natural sciences docent at the Oakland Museum, is among those beaver enthusiasts who will board the Wetlands Express, already championing the sanctity of this native animal.

 ”We need to dispel the notion of beavers as pests … They’re a keystone species. They create habitat for other animals,” she says.

Can I get an Amen? Deidre came to our planning dinner and was a delightful contributor -and that night she got to see the beavers before catching the train home.  A San Francisco resident, Deidre first heard of our beavers from Kate Lundquist of the Occidental Arts and Ecology Center, and decided she needed to come see for herself.

Jennifer also talked to Worth A Dam pillars Cheryl and Fro.

“They’re a family unit. They all work together,” says Cheryl Reynolds, a Worth A Dam board member, describing the beavers’ lodge-dwelling digs, vegetarian diet, and their average 35-pound size.

kit and mom

New mom and Kit – Cheryl Reynolds

And, Pleasant Hill resident and artist Frogard Butler will once again facilitate a hands-on, experiential learning opportunity for the younger set.

tailssewn tails

 Young artists will be making leather, textured, crisscross-patterned beaver tails in three sizes — adult, yearling and kit — and decorating them. Some participants have been known to return to the festival, sporting attached beavers tails.”

I love to see how everything comes together. I sure hope this article seeps outside the Record, But shhh this is my very favorite part!

 The Martinez resident quickly segues from cute descriptions to basic science, always lobbying for the beavers that play a key role in creating the overall health of the ecosystem.

 ”The beavers are changing the invertebrate community; they’re forming nooks and crannies; and constantly moving mud,” says Perryman, noting that different insects flourish at different elevations of the terrain, and thus account for an ensuing “fish bloom,” and a greater diversity of birds.

I love segueing from cute to science! And I ADORE being called a beaver lobbyist. Let’s face it. When she’s right, she’s right.

Beaver Countdown

   Posted by heidi08 On July - 22 - 2014Comments Off

There are an insane number of last minute details to take care of. It’s truly astonishing how many things we have crossed off the list only to see a mountain of details remaining. I feel like a worm that ate through half an apple. I’ll never get out unless I exercise all that effort all over again.

Apparently even the beavers understand what its like because some stopped off at a store in Idaho to pick up a few things.

140721_beaver_winco1Mamma beaver, baby nabbed trying to get inside Eagle WinCo

A mamma beaver and its baby were captured Monday after trying to “shop” inside an Eagle area grocery store. The Ada County Sheriff’s Office says the beaver and its kit tried to repeatedly walk into the WinCo store Monday morning.

 The beavers were first spotted at about 6 a.m. when they were shooed away by customers, the sheriff’s office said. A deputy arrived soon after and tried to get the beaver on its way with a plastic rake.

 No luck. The beaver and its baby weren’t moving.

 Later, however, the Idaho Humane Society arrived and put them in cages. Animals in Distress officials planned to take the beavers up along Highway 21.

 ”There is some wonderful willow and aspen bark where they are going north of Idaho City,” said Toni Hicks, a longtime volunteer with Animals in Distress.

I’m glad the volunteers will find them a nicer place. Obviously someone is trapping family members down the street and these refugees were seeking asylum.  Why else would beavers go to a store? Unless they read that sign that said “Willow Bundle”. Ba-dum-tsss.

Animal Wonders wrote me back yesterday, apologizing for the nutria error and asking permission to thank me with the correction. Another infamous stock footage snafu.They have a long list of projects  to get to before they consider a beaver ecology film, but they were definitely interested.

Hello Dr. Perryman,

 Jessi Knudsen from Animal Wonders forwarded me your corrections for the beaver video we just put up on SciShow.

 Thank you! I made a mistake in trusting the titles of a stock image company we sometimes use, and I greatly appreciate you spotting those mistakes and pointing them out.

 I’ve updated our cover photo to a new one of beavers and I’ve annotated that the pictures you pointed out are nutria, and not beavers. With your permission, I’d like to give you credit for spotting these mistakes for us in our video description and point people to your website. Would that be alright with you?

 Right now, with our schedule, we can’t rerecord the video to add more information about beavers and their positive effects within their ecosystem, but I’ll gladly tell our head writer that there’s interest in an episode about that. He wrote this episode and has a special place in his heart for beavers so I’m sure he’ll be excited to hear that.

 Finally, I wanted to make sure it’s clear Animal Wonders and SciShow are two separate channels. SciShow produced this episode about beavers without input from Jessi or Animal Wonders. Because the two channels have a relationship and try to support each other, SciShow included a shout-out to Animal Wonders because the content was related.

 Obviously, we probably should consult Jessi on our animal content because she has actually helped us avoid mistakes like this in the past in episodes she’s been a guest on.

 Thank you again, Dr. Perryman. One of my favorite aspects of sharing information on YouTube is that we hear from people when our information is not correct. While we try to make sure that is very rare, when it happens, the best we can hope for is that someone will be considerate enough to tell us.

 So thank you,


 Caitlin Hofmeister
SciShow Producer

How nice! You can never tell when people will care about the truth (or when they will be indifferent to it) but this is a nice surprise. If I made all the world a little terrified about mislabeling nutria photos as beavers I would die a very happy girl.

In the meantime I plan on dying a very busy girl. The charms arrived yesterday so there are necklaces to create, display flags for the charm booths to make, and info sheets to finish. Then it’s mounting signs,  planning tables, and making lists of what we can’t possibly forget to pack for the day.

At times like these I like to remember the old riddle that sustained me through graduate school.

“How far can you walk into a deep forest”
“Only halfway. The other half you’re walking out.”