Stepping up for beavers

   Posted by heidi08 On April - 29 - 2017ADD COMMENTS

Beaver benefits are on Utah public radio this morning. Let’s hope that helps his case for Kelly’s visit to the court house next week.

The Beaver: Helping Keep Water On Drying Lands on Wild About Utah

Installing a pressure transducer (inside the white pvc pipe) which is used to measure flow. Restoration treatments are assessed through monitoring water flows.

Beginning as early as the 17th century, beavers have struggled to find safe places to build their homes. Initially, hunters trapped beaver extensively to keep up with the popular beaver fashions in Europe.Then as settlers began moving west, they considered the beavers annoying because of their tendency to cause flooding and damage trees – so the trapping continued.

However, today in many parts of the American West, the beaver’s 400-year-old struggle is fading, because of their ability to keep water on dry land in an efficient manner.

While beavers may not be welcome in most city limits, ranchers and wildlife managers are re-introducing them to rural areas where the benefits of their dams far outweigh the inconveniences.

When Jay Tanner learned of the potential benefit of beavers, he drove to Utah State University and met with scientists and researchers who had experienced success in restoring beavers in the west.

Eric Thacker, Rangeland Management Extension Specialist at USU said, “A beaver dam provides a buffer or mitigation for drought.”

Kent Sorenson, habitat biologist from the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources described the financial benefit of the beavers, “[When beaver manage the dams] our operation and maintenance costs go to zero — they do all the work. They are 24/7 – 365-day maintenance crews that do not require a Corps of Engineers 404 permit.

And that! ladies an gentlemen, is what we call “good beaver press”. Share this site with your friends or nonbelievers because its a good big of persuasion from a pretty rugged source. Hopefully the judge in the McAdams case will accidentally hear it over coffee and waffles this morning. I don’t think it counts as ‘ex parte contact’ since it doesn’t star Kelly or his beavers, right?


 

Another nice beaver report in the form of a letter regarding depredation from the president of Protect Our Wildlife in Vermont.

Off-season trapping doesn’t help

Some of you may be familiar with official trapping season each year, but did you know that trapping occurs all year long under the guise of “nuisance” wildlife control? This unregulated, year-round trapping and killing occurs at biologically inappropriate times when animals like foxes, raccoons and others are raising their young. This means, among other things, animals are left orphaned with little chance of survival when their mothers are killed.

There are no set parameters as to what constitutes a “nuisance” animal. A warden once told me that a raccoon could be defecating in your garden and that could be considered a nuisance and therefore an excuse to kill the animal. There are many non-lethal ways to address wild animals causing damage that don’t involve killing, but the state seems to be mired in a trap/kill/repeat loop. Tragically, beavers are one of the most heavily trapped animals, leaving entire family units broken. Beaver kits stay with the parents for two years so the loss of a parent can be detrimental to the survival of offspring. Water flow control devices, exclusion fencing and wrapping trees are all long-lasting, humane options to address beaver damage.

Not only is this unjustified trapping and killing bad for wildlife, it’s bad for people. Unlicensed, unregistered “nuisance” wildlife control operators can collect payment to trap and kill animals, but these operators are not even required to have a trapping license. This means that they haven’t undergone the trapper education program nor are they familiar with best management practices. Animals trapped and killed as “nuisances” aren’t reported to the Fish & Wildlife Department so there is no data collection or controls in place to monitor what kinds of animals are killed, how many and why. For a Department who is responsible for protecting wildlife for the benefit of all Vermonters, including future generations, this seems to be a lapse in responsibility.

We are thankful for bill, H.262, An act relating to the licensing of nuisance wildlife control operators, introduced by Representative Jim McCullough, which will hopefully close some of these loopholes, if the bill is successful. When unlicensed trappers set leghold and body gripping traps during the warmer months when people are out recreating with their dogs, that presents an unintended threat. A baited trap for a raccoon will just as likely trap a dog or cat. We must emerge from the dark ages and find a better way.

 Brenna Galdenzi, president of Protect Our Wildlife POW

Good letter Brenna! We here in California agree that beaver nuisance depredation is the unregulated, unobserved practice that kills far, far too many beavers. Near as I can tell looking at the text of the bill, H. 262 requires even nuisance trappers to have a license and to show the reason why lethal means are needed  and what will be done to discourage wildlife in the future.

Since depredation takes resources away from EVERYONE in the state, it seems pretty reasonable to ask for these things, doesn’t it?

Willow Genocide

   Posted by heidi08 On April - 28 - 2017ADD COMMENTS

IMG_1790Ahh, who can read the mysterious minds of city staff? Or understand the workings of what goes on at the murky coffee-stained meetings where marching orders are issued? I’m just a lowly beaver advocate who can’t hope to infer what would make a city chop out all the willow trees along its bank, and ONLY the willow trees, leaving all the others untouched.

All we know is that by lunch time yesterday they had hacked along the fence line near the corp yard, cutting out every willow that stood along the banks. And leaving some scrubby un-willow trees and the large oak.

IMG_1796I’m sure there’s method to what looks like pure madness. The cut willow was just strewn along the banks or thrown into the creek. (Which is kind funny, because when the beavers were here they always hauled every scrap away after trimming). Maybe the fact that the new bridge to nowhere means more people can see this neglected path. Especially parents of soccer families from walnut creek and they complained they wanted it cleaner.

Sure looks a lot cleaner to me.

IMG_1794The pile on the right is the part of the creek where the beavers were living last summer. Ahh memories. I guess we should just be grateful that beavers aren’t there now, with all their cover and food source destroyed – barraged by machinery and harassed by the intrusion.

Rumor is that the homeless man who ‘officially’ lived there (And I say officially because I’m told the Martinez police knew and protected him because he kept them supplied with information) that particular homeless man is currently in an apartment downtown. Don’t know why or how. But maybe the city just didn’t want some OTHER unsanctioned homeless to move in. So they eliminated the cover?

(Or at least the willow part of the cover.)

IMG_1823You know me. I can’t possibly see a targetted willow genocide and not think it’s a message to any other beaver that approaches, MOVE ON, nothing to see or eat here, we don’t need your kind in these parts. But I guess this would be a lot of work just to keep beavers away, which they never did in the last 10 years and they easily might have. So I don’t know why this happened.

But if there’s ONE thing I know for sure, it’s that willow grows back. Whether you cut the top, the branch, or the roots. Something tells me it’s not the last we’ll see of them. And who knows what that will bring?

IMG_1822

Insert stuck beaver joke here

   Posted by heidi08 On April - 27 - 2017ADD COMMENTS

What I want to know is Who decides these things? What all-powerful overseeing force determines how every reporter is going to talk about beavers in every region and every country with the flick of a finger? Is there some giant war room where multiple screens determine the headlines on every news source in the hemisphere? I guess it could be something as simple as a press release, but maybe it’s a whole underground beaver cabal string-puller we don’t even suspect. Case in point:

Fat Beaver Stuck In Hamilton Fence Rescued By Animal Services Officer

This chunky national symbol has Hamilton Animal Services to thank for seeing him through to Canada’s 150th birthday.

The service responded to a call on Tuesday reporting a beaver wedged in a wrought iron fence. In their news release, the agency said they suspected the animal tumbled part-way through, but then found itself unable to wriggle its winter-heavy posterior between the bars.

Animal services officer Sarah Mombourquette freed the portly beast with the help of fast thinking and a common household ingredient – a little bit soap slicked him up enough to slip the rest of the way through

While beavers don’t hibernate, this adult male was clearly carrying a bit of extra weight after a less-active winter season. Slightly above-average temperatures across southern Ontario this past winter may have helped him along in packing on the pounds; the winter of 2015/2016 saw an epidemic of fat squirrelsthanks to milder weather giving them more access than usual to food through the winter months.

After the rescue, animal services transferred the beaver to Hobbitstee Wildlife Refuge in Jarvis, where he’ll spend some time recovering from his injuries before being rehabilitated and released back into the wild.

“Conservation efforts have led to a healthy beaver population and in honour of Canada 150, Hamilton Animal Services is thrilled to give this beaver a happy ending,” said Paoila Pianegonda, the city’s Manager of Animal Services. “We believe that no beaver should be left behind.”

Even if his behind is what got him in trouble in the first place.

Ha ha ha! Get it? Because he’s a pudgy beaver! Right? We all know beavers are skinny and fluffy little rabbit sized rodents with long tails. Because the warm winter meant that the beaver was awake and eating all winter. Like YOU you lazy couch potato. Because under normal conditions a beaver would easily pass through a wrought iron fence.

Sheesh.

First of all, I hate to break it to you, and forgive me for interrupting your little castor fat-shaming session, that isn’t a fat beaver. It’s a grown up beaver. Maybe not even grown up. Maybe a disperser. You forgot how big an adult beaver is because we killed them all. Second of all, beavers get THINNER in the winter not fatter. The winter freeze means they have to live off the food they stored, so as the winter drags on the is less and less to eat. Third of all, even if there was a very, very warm winter and the lucky beaver could go get fresh food all the time because the water was never frozen,  there is still no reason he would put on more weight in the winter because he would be doing the same things he normally did.

Instead, of accusing that beaver of sloth, I wonder, if you could for a moment, just remember back to the days of your childhood where you were certain that your head would easily fit through the stair banister railing, or your brother’s headboard, or the fence slats in the garden. Do you remember what a shock it was to find that not only could you not get through, which you had been certain you could do,  you could even not get back out? Your friend Whitey tried to pull you out and failed, then your brother and finally your dad. Do you remember how lonely and cold it got waiting for the fire department to come and set you free?

As horrific. terrifying and humiliating that fateful day was, aren’t you glad there wasn’t an international headline the next morning saying it happened because of your pudgy head?

With me it was my right thumb. And a very inviting and mysterious hole inside the handlebar of my highchair where the tray table usually snapped in. We didn’t have enough chairs at for our big (Catholic) family for me to sit on one at the table for a while, so I stuck with the highchair longer than most. I remember my mother telling me, when I poked that inviting opening curiously, “Don’t put your finger in there!” Ah, whose life wouldn’t have been different if they had listened to that advice?

So obviously I never got my thumb stuck in the whole one night after a particularly unappetizing dinner. And I never had to tell my parents the awful truth after all the plates were cleared away. And my father didn’t have to try vasoline and finally ice to ease it out. What I can assure you, is that my 2 year old thumb was not pudgy from winter, and I certainly wasn’t happy about those long hours I waited for the swelling to go down so I could get it back.

Something tells me that beaver wasn’t either.


Children's paradeOn to wiser things. (And pretty much anything is.)

Believe it or not, the bagpipe player who helps out at the festival found this in his Canadian nature news feed and shared it with me. Small, small world. This is the Michel LeClare workshop we talked about earlier.