Wednesday, January 8, 2014

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.

Eastern Washington is a dry and arid place concerned with water storage and maintaining a healthy water cycle for crops, wildlife, and people. As climate change progresses, concerns about water quantity and quality continue to mount.

“Beaver [dams] create stream complexity,” said Meyer, “Stream complexity leads to more food, more fish, and more wildlife habitat. When we set our monitoring cameras, we very frequently get pictures of deer, bobcat, elk, mice, birds, and a whole host of animals that now live around these beaver dams.”
Over the course of a year one beaver colony provides about $13,000 of ecosystem services. These services range from connecting flood plains to benefit plant growth, preventing floods by enabling water to slowly soak into the soil, and preventing pollutants from flowing downstream into drinking water. The most notable benefit is restoring salmon habitat.  Read the entire article.

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