Thursday, March 29, 2007

Bull's-eye on Beavers

In The State Newspaper today:

Bull’s-eye on beavers
Dams causing damage, so rodents will be killed

The city of Columbia — weary of beavers building dams and swamping nearby sewer lines and manholes — has hired a federal agency to kill the animals.

City Council recently approved a $50,000 contract with The U.S. Department of Agriculture. Wildlife specialists will work for a year, killing beavers, breaking down dams and getting creeks and streams flowing again.

It’s too early to say how many animals will have to be killed.

The city may also get a helping hand from the animal rights organization, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, which is working with the Virginia Department of Transportation on tackling similar beaver issues.

A PETA biologist is expected to visit Columbia and see if special water-control devices can be used in lieu of killing the rodents. A combination of methods might be the solution.
The article goes on to say:

Some animal activists, including those in PETA, say trapping is inhumane and ineffective because other beavers move into the area and build new dams.

Instead, Stephanie Boyles, a biologist with Virginia-based PETA, encourages cities to use water flow devices — pipes placed underneath dams which allow water to continue to flow.

The dams are left in place and the beavers are not killed.

“It’s more cost-effective and humane to invest in these long-term permanent solutions,” Boyles said, noting they’re cheap to build and maintain. “Otherwise, the animals will continue to recolonize those sites. The problem doesn’t go away.”

But Boyles concedes the devices don’t work in every situation. She’ll visit the city and assess whether they could work.

I would love to see the co-existance of humans with the natural world. I have had such a great experience while the beaver dam in Newberry was allowed to remain. It has since been destroyed.

I was priviledged to see several beavers including on one occasion the mother and a young kit. On another day, a beaver was on his back in the water munching on some leaves from an over-hanging branch. Several times I saw a large beaver making deliberations about breaches in the dam. I got to see turtles, various birds including a Little Green Heron, which was such a delight, as I had never seen one and did not know what it was for months. Of course I didn't have my camera with me that day. I saw a red-tailed hawk and watch and filmed it for almost 30 minutes. I left before he did. I saw muskrats, foxes, deer and dragonflies galore.

The night before they destroyed the dam I saw a Great Blue Heron at dusk at the edge of the pond and the next night across the street, probably wondering what happened to the pond.

The picture above is one I got from a video camera I was shooting with. Wish I had had a better camera for shooting stills. But the excitement and joy of being there was wonderful none-the -less.

When the dam was removed I could see how high the dam actually was frok it's lowest point. Roughly 6 to 7 feet and maybe 15 feet wide. It was in front of two culverts that passed under the road and the heavy rains had pushes it closer and closer to the culverts. It was only a matter of time before the whole thing would have been blocked off. I've sseen on TV where biologists have erected guards to keep dams away from culverts so the dam would not cause a problem.

Let's hope we can solve these problems with kindness towards out fellow creatures. They have so much to offer to anyone who would take the time to enjoy them.


1 comment:

Buck said...

Republicans and fundamentalists love the term, "Culture of Death". Isn't it interesting that when we allow the natural world to go its way life and beauty flourish. Yet, when humans assert themselves for the "greater good" nothing follows but death and destruction.

Will we ever learn that that nature is more important than shopping malls, stores, or Wal-Mart?

I hope so.