Palo Alto's 1st beaver rescue has implications on future of species

Dustin Dorsey Image
Saturday, December 2, 2023
Palo Alto's 1st beaver rescue has implications on future of species
For the first time, Palo Alto Animal Control rescued a sick beaver this week along the banks of the Matadero Creek.

PALO ALTO, Calif. (KGO) -- Just a few months ago, the Peninsula recorded its first confirmed sighting of a beaver in 160 years. Now this week, a sick beaver in Palo Alto needed to be rescued.

Along the banks of the Matadero Creek in Palo Alto, a surprising discovery for long-time animal control officer Cody Macartney.

MORE: 'Nature's fighter': Baby beaver spotting in Palo Alto excites wildlife experts

"We've gotten a lot of interesting animals from harbor seals to even a sea lion a few years ago, but usually it's the run of the mill squirrel, raccoon, duck, dog, cat and all these kind of things," Macartney said. "But, beaver is a first for me and I believe a first for the department."

Officer Macartney waded into the creek waters and was able to rescue the 63-pound female beaver that was showing signs of distress.

"The fact that I could kind of walk up on her kind of going through creek water and she didn't really hear me coming or have any problems with me being near her - until I picked her up that is - kind of tells you that something is wrong," Macartney said.

The beaver was taken to the Wildlife Center of Silicon Valley which has cared for only three beavers in its 30-year history because the animals are so rare in this area.

The beaver is now receiving supportive care.

"We're happy to report that she is now standing, she's alert and she's eating," WCSV development manager Holly Cormier said. "Her temperature keeps fluctuating, so we're keeping her inside for the next week and we'll do the next rehabilitation steps."

While the beaver was rescued in Palo Alto, there's actually reason to believe that she originated further south in the Los Gatos Creek.

MORE: Stanford University study explains how beaver activity may have long-term benefits on climate change

South Bay Clean Creeks Coalition founder Steve Holmes has been following beavers through trail cameras for nine years.

He says storms likely pushed young beavers from San Jose to colonize in other areas, including the Peninsula which saw its first beaver sighting in 160 years this September.

Holmes is thankful the female beaver is recovering after its rescue -- the population is still recovering after beavers nearly went extinct.

"Beaver are a keystone animal and they are also drought busters, their dams hold back water," Holmes said. "So, they're good for the environment and they're good for our streams. So, I'd like to see them increase."

The hope is to eventually release the sick beaver back into the wild near where it was found.

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