THEO DOUGLAS The Bakersfield Californian
The body of a large paddle-tailed rodent was found early Tuesday in the traffic lanes of southbound Mohawk Street north of Truxtun Avenue, suggesting Bakersfield’s fabled bike path beaver — scourge of local saplings — may have died.
Exact identification will be difficult for although the decedent appeared in excellent condition, conclusively proving its origin will be nearly impossible for obvious reasons.
Its time in these parts may date back about 15 years, according to residents who have told The Californian they remembered it in the southwest before the Park at Riverwalk was built.
A relatively harmonious co-existence with city officials and bike path users was shattered in 2007, when — for reasons best known to itself — the bike path beaver quickly downed nine trees, causing $4,500 in damage near Riverwalk.
California Department of Fish and Wildlife officials issued a kill permit after an appeal from city officials — then relented after residents called for a stay of execution.
Instead, city officials made plans to ship the animal off to Tehachapi, and wrapped 20 Riverwalk tree trunks in orange construction mesh — which, you know, sticks in the teeth.
”Isn’t that a sad thing? We get a little rain and the little guy comes out and he gets hit. He was too happy,” said Revelo, who offered to pay to have the animal stuffed and donated to a local museum.
In every possible way Bakersfield has eschewed education on the topic of beavers. They wrapped trees with plastic fencing and now claim the damage of a lone beaver spanned over 15 years. After gunning for him over the course of three presidential terms, Bakersfield believes it was finally run over on the highway. And a generous lawyer has kindly offered to stuff it and put it in a museum.
Mighty white of you, Bakersfield.
Of course WE can look at the calendar and see that it’s February and know that means dispersal month. We know that this was never a single beaver but a family. And some two year old disperser was heading out to seek his own territory and was hit by a car, which apparently surprises people every single time it happens. But we know it happens a lot.
Just think how surprised they’ll be when the ‘ghost’ of the bike path beaver starts chewing those new trees!
Thanks to Robin from Napa who painstakingly filled in the dates on this, we now can see exactly what happened to beaver trapping in California over the last 65 years.
And they wrote back her query with this blow by blow.
- Beaver reintroductions occurred from 1923-1949.
- In 1939, legislation was passed to allow for control of beavers where they interfered with infrastructure.
- In 1950, the counties within the Sacramento and San Joaquin valley were opened to year-round beaver trapping.
- In 1955, the California Fish and Game Commission to institute a quota system for the take of beaver in northern counties and on the east side of the Sierra.
- In 1956, the quotas were lifted from the counties opened in 1955.
- In 1957, the beaver was classified as a furbearing mammal and provisions for their take when found to be damaging crops or property were instituted (FGC §4180, 4181).
- In 1958, some Sierra Nevada counties were opened to beaver trapping.
- In 1959, Inyo, Mono and Siskiyou counties were opened to trapping.
And from 1960 onwards trapping went down and depredation became the drug of choice. Which brings us to where we are today when the vast majority of beaver deaths go uncounted and unreported and we have no idea how many we kill ever year.
And no idea what effect these beavers could have on our salmon and water storage if they were allowed to live.