Beavers in Manhattan, Mink in California

Mink

Image via Wikipedia

Maybe beavers have little in common with Boomers, or Beyonders, but after reading T/S Contributor Caitlin Kelley’s Canada/NY beaver piece just now I felt compelled to respond with today’s news of California urban mink. Their newly discovered presence was documented by the San Francisco Chronicle’s Carolyn Jones:

First, there were beavers. Then otters and muskrats.

And now – as if the Martinez Public Works Department needed more cute, furry mammals paddling around Alhambra Creek – there are mink.

Ten months after the city spent $500,000 to shore up the eroding creek bank, a condition many blamed on the beavers and their obsessive handiwork, a mother mink and four babies were spotted this week cavorting near the beaver’s primary dam, just north of the Escobar Street bridge in downtown Martinez.

The silky, razor-toothed critters have apparently taken up residence in the pond created by the beavers’ dam, along with a variety of other aquatic wildlife.

But then again, maybe there IS some relevance. Recent posts re health and housing, which seem to be atop the news for over-50 generations if not everyone else too these days, have had friends asking if there isn’t something ELSE to write about? Well, yes. Exercise and fitness. The absolute best of which is snagging a half hour or two and heading out to circle the Central Park reservoir or roam around Golden Gate Park, or wherever your city walking place of choice happens to be. Mine is 16th Street, San Francisco, start at the Bay, end at Market (or continue whatever direction from there) and you’ll encounter every ethnic/social/business/industry/arts category you could want and the views aren’t bad at the tops of the hills. But back to the mink:

Mink are native to the area but are highly unusual. They’re more often spotted in the delta or the Sierra Nevada, but their population could be rising because of the decreasing popularity of mink coats, Bell said.

Maureen Flannery, collections manager for the ornithology and mammalogy department at the California Academy of Sciences, also confirmed that the animals in question are Neovison vison, a.k.a. American mink.

The babies probably were born in April or May and will stay with their mother until fall, when they will head out to claim their own territories, she said.

I’ve also had questions about food-and-nutrition writing, this being another biggie for over-50s (under-50s are either already sold on healthy lifestyles or eating pizza and sushi and fries and just not giving a damn about calories and cholesterol.) And fine dining also enters this late-breaking news:

Dan Murphy, owner of Bertola’s restaurant adjacent to the beavers’ dam, was also taking a wait-and-see attitude. Liability concerns over the restaurant’s weakening foundation were one reason the city decided to shore up the creek bank last fall.

“I don’t really care,” Murphy said. “Although I guess the creek’s becoming more and more of a habitat, which is pretty cool.”

Martinez vice mayor Mike Menesini, proclaiming his “a very welcoming city” is waiting to see how this newly-mixed community gets along.

So far, the mink, beavers, muskrats, otters and turtles have adopted an attitude of mutual indifference. The crayfish aren’t so lucky – they’re often dinner for their carnivorous creek-mates.

The Beaver Fest in downtown Martinez today features bagpipes, bluegrass and jazz bands. Dancing in the streets is good exercise too.

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