Proposed law would allow residents to adopt a beaver
Noting that some consider beavers a nuisance near homes and businesses, a state legislator is suggesting that landowners with room to spare...
The Associated Press
OLYMPIA — Noting that some consider beavers a nuisance near homes and businesses, a state legislator is suggesting that landowners with room to spare be allowed to bring the bucktoothed mammals home.
A measure proposed by Rep. Joel Kretz, R-Wauconda, would allow private citizens to obtain a free permit, then catch beavers that others consider troublesome and relocate them to the permit holder's own land.
Kretz said Wednesday he has been trying for years to get the state Department of Fish and Wildlife to move a few 40-pound beavers closer to his own Okanogan County home, located on 1,300 acres surrounded by national forest, in order to improve the habitat.
He raises cattle and horses on the property.
Kretz said the wildlife department hasn't brought him any beavers, citing the difficulties of capturing and transporting them.
He said he has spoken to a number of people with similarly appropriate places to bring unwanted beavers, and thinks a person should be able to make that happen without waiting for intervention by wildlife agents.
Beavers are known to improve salmon habitat, water supplies and stream function, he said.
In past decades of unregulated fur trade, beaver populations were virtually eradicated, Kretz said, and most beavers no longer live in their natural habitat, deep in the wilderness.
"There is a huge overpopulation in some unnatural areas," Kretz said. "Some are getting into orchards and cutting down apple trees."
Beaver dams have caused roads to wash out and sometimes lead to flooding, he said.
Rep. Brian Sullivan, D-Mukilteo, chairman of the House Committee on Natural Resources, Ecology and Parks, was not fully aware of the measure earlier this week.
But Sullivan said the bill would be seriously considered for a hearing.
While Kretz's proposal encourages live relocation to a healthy upstream habitat, the Humane Society of the United States — the primary sponsor of a 2000 initiative to ban most forms of trapping — expressed concerns that private citizens could do harm during a relocation.
"Taking a beaver out of a natural habitat, away from offspring, social groups and sources of food, can certainly be a problem," said Michael Markarian, executive vice president of the organization.
"It's especially problematic if it isn't done by a licensed professional who knows when and where an animal can be released and the ecology of relocation."
Markarian said only professional wildlife rehabilitators should be allowed to disrupt the habitat of a beaver.
Kretz thinks his relocation plan would not only improve habitat but save problem beavers from the increasingly common practice of catch-and-kill, in which the creatures are caught alive in suitcase traps — to abide by the state's ban on body traps — before being killed.
One person's nuisance could become Kretz's personal environmental woodworker.
"I'm willing to sacrifice a few trees," he said.
When vice president of Sub Pop Records Megan Jasper isn't running things at the office, she's working in her garden at her West Seattle home where she and her husband Brian spend time relaxing.