Two letters appeared in the April 30, 2014 edition of the Bitterroot Star about the recent demise of a North American Beaver (Castor canadensis) on the Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge (NWR). According to Metcalf management, the bad-luck beaver was interfering with the refuge’s ability to manage water levels and they had to take appropriate, corrective government action.
I guess I’m a bit confused because in my wildlife biology training, I was taught that beavers provide beneficial habitat for ducks, which ultimately improved waterfowl breeding success. If water control becomes a problem, there are two popular devices for controlling water levels in beaver ponds:
1. Install a temporary device such as a three-log drain.
2. Install a permanent device like the Clemson Beaver Pond Leveler, which reduces damage from flooding.
If these measures aren’t feasible, then beavers can be easily live-trapped and relocated elsewhere. Killing them in a Conibear Trap would be a last resort. I’m sure the folks at Trap Free Montana Public Lands aren’t excited about this recent activity by an organization that is part of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS).
The mission of the USFWS, as stated on page 5 of the Lee Metcalf NWR Comprehensive Conservation Plan (Sept. 2012) is to “conserve, protect, and enhance fish and wildlife and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people.” Unless you’re a beaver bothering the busy field technicians working at the refuge.