Once again the clash between people and wildlife, specifically beavers, has pitted animal welfare professionals and environmentalists against California's Departments of Water and Power (DWP) and Fish and Game (DFG). Beavers are felling trees, building dams, enhancing their habitats, and generally behaving like beavers. Unfortunately, this activity is interfering with DWP's equipment and causing some flooding in Central California's Owens Valley.
The decided upon solution is to trap and kill the offending beavers and destroy their habitat, all with the blessing of DFG, an agency whose mandate it is to protect native species. To that end DWP is accepting bids from trappers to perform this task. "The beavers are very destructive and can rapidly take down many trees in environmentally sensitive areas if they're not controlled," DWP Spokesman Joe Ramallo told City News Service. "We have many environmental mandates and responsibilities in the Owens Valley to ensure water flow on the waterways." http://www.dailynews.com/news/ci_17342275
There are, however, those that assert that trapping ultimately fails as beavers will migrate back and continue their activities. They rather propose the construction of flow devices to control the water, which would permanently fix the problem and eliminate the recurring need to kill the beavers. (Boyles and Savitsky, 2008 http://www.beaversww.org/assets/PDFs/Boyles-et-al.-2008.pdf and http://www.martinezbeavers.org/wordpress/)
There are ancillary concerns. First, DFG requires that the entire animal be discharged pursuant to their regulations and that it would be unlawful to retain the pelt. However, DFG lacks resources to monitor the trappers to enforce this rule. Second, there is the need to check traps so that there is no unnecessary suffering and to make sure a non-targeted animal is not caught. There is no plan to monitor that either as Joe Ramallo further stated that he is not sure how often the traps would be checked. One also wonders how many killed beavers is enough and how that is determined?
It seems that beavers have no choice but to act like beavers. Conversely, twenty-first century humans should act like humans and solve the problem in a more humane and sensible way. Of course, if DFG continues to allow the depredation of our native species, they will finally have nothing to do instead of just doing nothing.
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This article first published as Dam Beavers! on Technorati.