Tracker Finds Beaver Sign in Humboldt

beaver1In spite of place names like Beaver Butte, Beaver Flat and Beaver Creek (all northeast of McKinleyville,) most Humboldt folk don’t know that these flat-tailed rodents live in this area.  However, on March 15, Kim Cabrera, who runs a website devoted to tracking, spotted beaver sign on the South Fork of the Eel River.

Rain had softened the sand where the impressions were discovered south of Dyerville but Cabrera, an experienced tracker, is confident that the signs belong to a beaver. (See photo to the left.)

Cabrera says that even though no beaver dams have been spotted in the area doesn’t mean that there aren’t beavers. According to her website,

Beavers do not always build dams. They can live on a river and use burrows and eat vegetation without building any structures. Look for their tracks and signs along sandy river banks. You might find areas where limbs have been dragged into the water. Beavers will come ashore and gnaw off branches then take these back to eat later. Look along the shores for branches showing the tooth marks of these large rodents.

If you think you see some tracks belonging to beavers, send them in to and we’ll have Cabrera identify them.

Like posts about wildlife? You might be interested in Cabrera’s capture of a puma family with a game camera set up near Redway.



  • Beaver are common on the lower Mad River. They occur at Clam Beach ponds (active dam at Patrick Creek currently, directed one off Hwy 101 20 years ago & picked up one roadkill there). I recall beaver burrows along the lower portions of Redwood Creek.

    • I think one of my favorite parts of writing about Humboldt is finding out even more from readers. I never knew that!

    • Yes I have seen signs of them on the lower mad river near the pump station off west end road, just a bit east of the frisbee golf course. Same area every year has downed (small girth) trees with amazing sharpened cones as stumps. Its great to see!!! They are such a forgotten piece of river health, from what I have read they created great pools for salmon&helped regulate flows with natural “log jams”.

    • Barbara Giannini

      I grew up in Orick and they were in Prairie Creek and Redwood Creek.

  • I find beaver chewed saplings along the north bank of the Mad just south of Lindsay Creek (Fieldbrook) all the time but it’s been some years since I’ve actually seen one.

  • Haven’t seen the actual beavers, but commonly see beaver-chewed trees on the Mad right by the Trinity county line, 6-7 miles downstream of Ruth Lake. Ie the upper Mad river.

  • I’m always excited to see signs of beaver on our rivers. This photo is from the Trinity River

  • Here’s something on another animal in our midst your readers may be interested in:

    • We used to have a puncture of porcupines around here. They were considered pests. And more than once we had to pull quills out of our dogs’ noses but I haven’t seen one in years. I always liked the cute (from a distance) prickly critters.

    • We used to have porcupine here (the dogs would come back with quills in their noses ;*p) but as you pointed out, seems like there’s not as many lately…..

      • Yes, I remember { with a cringe } using channel locks to pull the quills from my poor old Mosely’s nose and muzzle. We could not afford the trip to the vet. Unfortunately, he did not learn from this torturous procedure and went after them three more times . I have not seen a porcupine in years.Racoons seem to dominate the landscape now.

  • Excellent paper published by Tom Keter written in 2013 re: the historical range of beavers in California and the history of trapping them by Hudson’s Bay brigades and American trappers like Jedediah Smith. Most of this took place in the 1820’s, 30’s and 40’s, after which time their numbers were reduced almost to the point of extinction. Tom’s paper, entitled “Beavers in the Yolla Bolly Mountains?”, can be accessed at his website It should also be noted that beavers were reintroduced by Hammond Lumber Company to the Little River drainage near Crannell in the 1930’s. Signs of their continued habitation there could still be found when I was a boy living near there. Green Diamond wildlife biologists might have some current information on their current status in that area. Nice to see them apparently coming back in many areas of the North Coast!

    • I wonder if the absence of beaver noted by some of the early explorers of the area contrasted with others reporting bountiful amounts might have to do with the mountain beaver not being a dam maker.

      • There was a maritime or coastal fur rush where Russians and Americans bartered with Native Americans to scour the coast. So when Jedediah Smith arrived on the northern California coast there were few left. We discussed this in the publication. It’s pretty easy to extirpate, or nearly extirpate, a fur bearer once you have steel traps.

  • Our neighbor had something she called “mountain beaver” – wonder what she was talking about

  • Several years ago heard beaver tail slap on lower mad river. I think they burrow in the steep banks at rivers edge.

  • Last week, a woman at “Earth, Water and Fire Day” told me that there are active beaver dams on Outlet Creek in the Little Lake Valley area. It would make sense that beavers would be trying to expand their range down stream to other areas of the South Fork Eel. The paper that Jim Baker refers to above is a great read. Fun stuff!

    • Let me know when the gray wolves piece comes out, please. I’d like to read it.

      • Sure thing. My understanding is that some of the co-authors that wrote the paper on the historic range of beavers in CA are piecing together a similar paper that shows that Gray Wolves were once a part of North Coast ecosystems prior to Euro-American contact. The historic presence of Gray Wolves in our coast ranges has been debated. I want to learn more on this topic.

  • That headline is so ripe for misuse.

  • Nice blog, Kym. Great to see all the skilled citizen contribute all this great information. We pulled together a lot of evidence that beaver were native to California’s coastal watersheds, and published it here,d.aWw

  • Wow! Learning a lot with this beaver thread. You seem to have attracted a different group of participants with your new blog format, Kim. What’s your secret to filtering out the usual predominance of negativity? I may have to return to starting my morning with your blog again, after giving up on all of them long ago in order to maintain what little remaining faith I had in the human race.

    • The comments are heavily moderated. Not for opinion–everyone is entitled to express their views but for civility.

      I want to start a community dialogue spot.

      • Looks like you’ve accomplished your goal so far, until the trolls shut you down under the guise of freedom of expression. I’ll stick with the nerdy beaver and history discussions. Less opportunity for incivility.

        • I agree with jim. A return to civility is refreshing. Blog trolls are easily discouraged by simply deleting or editing their crap. Welcome back Kym!

          I do miss the “like button” though.

          • I still check on loco for news but the comment section is still descending into epic stupidity . Almost all the commenters I enjoyed are gone. Puff, Jackie Z, Nova, Uti, Farce, Juniper Pearl and many others, where are you?? Please come to RHBB, I miss you guys.

  • Along the Mad River estuary are often beaver-chewed sticks. There were several beaver dams on lower Widow White Creek one year, but now they are further upriver.

  • Dennis Halligan

    I have an old CDFG report (somewhere) that documents beaver being reintroduced into the Mad River from Oregon in 1954 or 55.

  • there are mountain beavers living at Park 1 on the Mad River

  • About “the historic presence of gray wolves in our coast ranges”: “It is hard to estimate the extent of occurrence of true wolves originally in this State. The accounts of early travelers in California are not particularly useful in this regard, because in them the term “wolf” is applied to the coyote….Unquestionably wolves ranged regularly over the northern one-fourth of the State and south along the Sierra Nevada at least….If the northwestern timber wolf ever occurred in California, which is not unlikely, it was probably restricted to the northwest coastal strip of high humidity and heavy timber. Its range would thus have coincided with that of the Roosevelt elk. –Joseph Grinnell, Fur-Bearing Mammals of California, 1937
    The Yuroks had a word for wolves, suggesting they knew them at least distantly.

    • Local wolf lore is of great interest to me as I look for historical mention. I took notes about a trapper getting a wolf in the S. Trinity River region in the 1910-20 period. The Kato of Long Valley have a story with Wolf as one of the animal/people in the tale. There was a trapper at Harris who had a pet wolf 40-50 years ago, I am trying to find out where it was trapped and will add it to this thread if I find it was a regional wolf.

  • Haven’t heard back about this ‘pet’ wolf at Harris, though I now suspect it wasn’t local. However I have turned up Native stories about wolves from the Kato and Nekanni (Bear River), and the word for wolf shows up in “Northern Sinkyone”.

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