Congress may be unable to pass a background check, a budget or a resolution for more stalls in the ladies restroom, but a bipartisan group of state senators in New Jersey has decided that the old rule declaring that the division of fish and wildlife can only issue 200 depredation permits for beavers per year is insufficient to the numbers of beavers that need killing in the state. Remember that the state is the fifth smallest in the entire country and about the size of a postage stamp.
A bipartisan group of lawmakers, including Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D-Gloucester), introduced a bill last week intended to remove the limit on how many permits the Division of Fish and Wildlife gives out “for the taking of beaver.”
Under current law, the state can give out only 200 permits each year. Sweeney insisted the bill (S2665) was in response to a real problem. “Not that I go out and hunt beavers,” he said. “The problem is they’re actually causing flooding problems where I live.”
A reasonable person, (like say this reporter who is politely writing down everything they’re told), might think, gosh 200 beavers isn’t very many. A reasonable person wouldn’t take the time to look up the legislation S2665 and see that EACH PERMIT ISSUE is good for killing FIVE BEAVERS per year – meaning that it is already permissible to kill 1000 beavers every 365 days.
Lord knows a reasonable person certainly wouldn’t look up the USGS figures for square miles of water in New Jersey, which is 396 or 5.3% of the total state. Even if we assume that water is all excellent unpollted habitat for beavers, it is already legal to kill one beaver for every two or three square miles of water. Which, (if we’re assuming the population is as big as it can possibly be, and thinking of the territory needs quoted in Dietland Muller-Schwarze saying beaver colonies need to be about 2 miles away from each other) means that NJ already gets to kill around half of its entire beaver population.
Why should the garden state settle for half?
Certainly no reasonable person would take the time to write the senators sponsoring this bill on a sunday evening to clarify these issues, teach about flow devices, or reference the essential role that beavers play in water storage and drought protection.
I’m sure you’re aware of the percentage of counties in the US last year listed by FEMA as disasters due to drought conditions. Research has shown time and time again that small dams built by beavers raise the water table, recharge the aquifer, reduce drought, and cool water temperatures through hyporheic exchange. Reducing or eliminating those natural buffers will expose your residents, your fish and wildlife to brutal conditions.
Now for some inexplicable news from Vancouver where the Adrien Nelson has done such fantastic work to promote flow devices but apparently still needs to accomplish a little more reporter and public works education on how they work.
Water flow devices remove need to trap and kill
District of Mission public works operations supervisor Dale Vinnish agreed, noting the district used to trap and humanely kill about six to 10 beavers a year. “It seemed like if we got rid of one, two of them would come back next year,” he said. “If we got rid of two, you might see four of them there next year.”
Now, with the animal rights groups’ help, Mission began installing the anti-beaver devices last summer and now has eight throughout the district. “The beavers are gone,” Vinnish said. “We were fighting them constantly before, but now we just have to go check the Beaver Deceivers and pull a few sticks out so nothing clogs up. So it has been really great.”
Apparently flow devices are the new “beaver repellant”! I suppose it’s great someone from public works think they work and want to use more. But why is the word COMPROMISE such a difficult concept to grasp? If the flow device makes the beavers leave it didn’t WORK and you have wasted your time and money. The reason you install it in the first place is because it makes the problematic behavior leave (not the beavers), so your culverts don’t get blocked and your roads don’t flood. You’d better hope the beavers are staying right there, doing other stuff and keeping more beavers from moving in.