Because the beaver isn't just an animal; it's an ecosystem!

The Martinez Beavers

Beaver NIMBY

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Yakima is having some more good press for their beaver relocation program. I met a few folk from their program and think their hearts are in the right places. But I can’t help being frustrated that moving beavers out of town is accomplished with such fanfare, while the long hard slog of teaching a city to LIVE with the beavers they have hardly gets a blurb. Think about it, the beaver battle in Martinez was covered in the media excitedly, the money spent on sheetpile is still heralded to this day, the plan to rip out the dam with an anchor was on national news, but Skip’s flow device and its success was never ever mentioned once.

(Once in an interview with a KTVU anchor she reminisced fondly, “Oh I remember being here during all that uproar! I was pregnant and my daughter is three now! Someone put in that pipe right? I guess it didn’t work because I never heard anything else about it”. To which I replied “It worked so well that no one ever talks about. If it hadn’t worked you would have been back to report on the story!)

Well the KQED program dedicated to “sustainability” has an interesting take on this short-term solution.

Putting Nuisance Beavers to Work

With their strong buck teeth and flat tails, beavers are the engineers of the natural world. Their craftsmanship, however, sometimes impacts man-made environments such as houses, roads, and farms. As a result, beavers are often considered to be nuisance animals and killed for the trouble they cause.

Now, beavers throughout central and eastern Washington State are being saved. In March 2011, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) established a three-year pilot project to relocate troublemaking beavers from homes and farms and move them to upper river tributaries. WDFW biologist William Meyer has been working on the Yakima Basin Beaver Project since its inception.

“I originally got the idea for this project from the Methow Valley Beaver Project,” said Meyer. “I thought, ‘I need to apply for a grant and do this project in the Yakima Basin.’” Meyer received funding for the project from the Salmon Recovery Funding Board.

 Clearly KQED’s quest is smitten with this ‘problem relocating project’. (Never mind that they never reported on our beavers OR responded to the press releases about the six Beaver Festivals. Do I sound bitter?) It is  indeed better to move a problem than to kill it, but remember the original plan in Martinez was to move OUR beavers, (well two of them anyway – they’d still have killed the rest).We found an successful alternative. And the success rates for the Methow Project on which this is based is about 50%. Which means that half the beavers are dead or eaten the following year.

“I think this is a win/win,” said Meyer, “These little ecosystem engineers can restore habitat, and [by moving them] we can solve someone’s problem.”

Those are some “Hunger -Game-Odds” but I guess its better than being killed outright. Still, let’s be honest, sometimes its a win/lose right? And since the property owner will face the same problem next year and will have fewer fish and birds, more erosion and a lower water table, I guess it can be a lose/lose too.

Tell me how a plan to move beavers is sustainable, QUEST? Is there could be a conveyor belt of some kind involved?

U[dated family tree