A North American working class hero (Castor canadensis) we need to appreciate more. Photo credit – Simon Jackson/iStock
March 3 is World Wildlife Day, a date chosen for the 50th anniversary birthday of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). A short video on the above page gives a fine overview of the event, and one can sign up for online participation here for free.
The theme this year is “Partnerships for Wildlife Conservation”, auspicious for me because of recently discovering and being inspired by the warmest and most prosocial collaborative organization I have found to date: PossibleRochester.org, fiscal sponsors of EarthRegenerators.org.
These planetary collaborations give me real hope for the future, and I would strongly urge you to explore them if you are feeling the least bit discouraged by current events.
Narrow-mouthed Toads (Microhylidae). Frog Identification tips. Photo credit Green Nature
Endangered Species Status of Frogs and Beavers
Fortunately in the Great Lakes Bioregion, to our knowledge, our 7 common species of frogs are not endangered, although world wide, we have lost about 20% of all known species.
Beavers were trapped to near extinction in the early 20th century by traders here, throughout the United States, and in Europe and Asia before that. They currently are threatened by habitat loss and conflict with humans, with tens of thousands unnecessarily killed. Attempts to protect them have been mixed.
While listed as endangered in the UK and Europe in 2022, there were fears that the UK was poised to kill this designation. On the other hand, protections have been successful enough and reproduction fast enough that beavers are spreading throughout the world.
In the United States, the U.S Fish & Wildlife Service has had the foresight to develop a strategy for the use of the beaver for conservation and stemming climate change. The Humane Society also is a defender of this delightful rodent.
An exceptionally heinous initiative: The Horry County Stormwater Department’s Beaver Bounty program – “Cut off their paws!” Photo Credit In Defense of Animals
Benefits of Beavers
Amphibians greatly benefit from beavers, as do larger water species such as turtles, fish, ducks and otters. And humans. A good thing for frogs and other flesh species, beavers are strictly vegetarian. Beavers, in turn, are part of the food chain for larger mammals and birds of prey.
Because of general prejudice about beavers, I got a strongly negative reaction when I was so bold as to suggest that beavers are good for wetlands in my blog for World Wetlands Day on January 31. I did not propose beavers for any particular area, but simply wrote:
“Interestingly, the restoration of wetlands can occur more simply, inexpensively and naturally in appropriate areas by the reintroduction of beavers, so shamelessly exploited and nearly decimated by early pioneers and traders.”
Although I’m not certain how it came across my consciousness, I had just read, enjoyed and was edified by the book Eager: The Surprising, Secret Life of Beavers and Why They Matter by Ben Goldfarb, and cited from the back cover:
“Today, a growing coalition of “Beaver Believers”―including scientists, ranchers, and passionate citizens―recognizes that ecosystems with beavers are far healthier, for humans and non-humans alike, than those without them. [Beavers build wetlands all on their own, helping us to] fight drought, flooding, wildfire, extinction, and the ravages of climate change.”
—Eager: The Surprising, Secret Life of Beavers and Why They Matter by Ben Goldfarb
Jennifer Szalai chose the book Beaverland: How One Weird Rodent Made America, by Leila Philip in her New York Times Book Review entitled Leave It to Beavers of January 8. Here is an excerpt from Ms. Szalai’s article:
[The book] “adds to a genre of pro-beaver literature that turns out to be more populous than most of us may have known. [Philip] offers her own “canonical list” of appreciative books that includes “The American Beaver and His Works” (1868), by the anthropologist Lewis Henry Morgan, and “The Romance of the Beaver” (1914), by the naturalist A. Radclyffe Dugmore. A more recent example is the memorably titled “Once They Were Hats,” published in 2015 by the Canadian writer Frances Backhouse.”
Variety of species of frogs with same genus (Philautus) in the family Rhacophoridae from Asia. Some are now extinct, others widespread and abundant. Naturally I am against live dissections. Photo Credit Weebly
What’s Being Done Locally
As I indicated above, Beavers are not necessarily popular around the Great Lakes bioregion. There are plenty of local wildlife control outfits that say they trap humanely, but they don’t say what is done with the trapped animal, which is likely killing it.
On the other hand, Defenders of Wildlife work to solve conflicts between beavers and landowners by offering pond leveling devices, culvert protection fences, and tree-fencing.
If this does not assuage the disgruntled human, the organization live-traps and relocates the beavers to less populated lands where they can contribute all the benefits of their ecosystem engineering.
Defenders also “give talks and collaborate with local watershed groups, other environmental groups and NGOs, and state agencies – to help restore freshwater ecosystems by using beavers as a restoration tool.”
There is not as far as I know a local chapter, but probably a person who loves beavers more than frogs (as you know, I am of the opposite persuasion) could recruit a speaker for a local event or for local rehabilitating work.
Rochester Bioregion Map published by PossibleRochester.org for Earth Regenerators.
Just as there are billions of individual frogs around the world, and hundreds of species in any given genus, so there are billions of human beings that all have a capacity to help someone or some cause.
Please, if you aren’t already involved with some of the wildlife conservation organizations around town, find one that works for and appeals most to you, such as Braddock Bay Park (Look for A Frog House on the Birds of Prey Days on the weekend of April 30, right after Save the Frogs Day), Genesee Land Trust,Nature Conservancy of Central and Western New York Sierra Club, the Wild Wings Nature Center, to name a few.
If you need to find or want to become a Wildlife Rehabilitator, this groups helps any kind of wildlife, from frogs and birds to skunks to moose.
And, you can go big and collaboratively: In my most recent blog entitled “Happy Valentine’s Day”, I listed a few dozen local organizations that are passionate about the environment and climate change. This was before I had fully digested and participated in any other efforts put on by Earth Regenerators.
Since then, I am having the greatest time discovering all the things that are going on everywhere and who is doing them. For example, although I missed it, on February 21, Kathryn Alexander presented a project at a Regenerative Project Incubator. Kathryn has researched earth regenerative systems, and developed a set of cards called “Earth Values: The Ethics of Living Regeneratively”.
To get involved with Earth Regenerators, contact Possible Rochester leaders Jonathan or Victoria Zelin Cloud
Personally, although I’m really a frog in human disguise, I can pretend to be a bird. I love our tiny spot on the canal at 65 State Street, from which I have a perfect perch to attract people to what we are all about at A Frog House. From thence I can fly here and there to gather nourishing education for cross pollination wherever I go. There are lots of opportunities to join us as well!