Guest column: Opposing Incline Village homeowners’ ‘right’ to eradicate beavers
Ryan Summerlin April 23, 2013
The Sierra Wildlife Coalition, BEAR League, Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care and Wylie Animal Rescue Foundation are groups of local volunteers. One of our main goals is to educate people about practical and humane ways to live with our wildlife, in addition to keeping our pets safe in our beautiful mountains.
Unfortunately, a group of homeowners along Incline Creek took out a depredation permit, which is in effect for an entire year, to kill an unspecified amount of beavers living near them in Incline Creek, without contacting any wildlife group for help or investigating alternatives. One beaver is confirmed dead and we have been told as many as two to four others have been killed as well.
We are additionally alarmed because this is the time of year that kits are born, and trapping could leave them orphaned and starving. Rumors that beavers are being “relocated” are not true; neither Nevada nor California wildlife departments will relocate any animal.
The most unfortunate thing is that these killings are completely legal. Homeowners can request a depredation permit for any real or even threatened damage to any property. “The purpose for which this permit is issued” was listed as “Ornamentals, Aspens, Willows, caused by Beavers.”
They forgot to even list “damage.” That was the only reason typed on the form.
Trees can be easily and inexpensively be protected by painting a non-toxic mix of sand and bark colored latex on the trunks, creating a gritty texture that discourages beaver chewing easy and invisible. This method has become standard practice in urban beaver habitat nation-wide. We have now made ourselves ready and willing to protect any trees these homeowners feel are threatened, and hope to work with them in the future.
Sierra Wildlife Coalitions also offers information and assistance regarding the numerous simple and proven devices that prevent flooding from beaver dams thousands have been installed successfully throughout the U.S. and Canada. It is well documented that beaver dams filter sediment and pollution from creeks, keeping Tahoe blue, and the wetlands they create are vital to all other wildlife.
We were also very concerned because so many people walk their dogs in this area along Incline Creek, and traps are NOT required to be marked in Nevada. Beaver traps are likely to be under water (to drown them) and/or hard to see. Pet dogs who like to swim or even wade in the water could have been injured, drowned or outright killed, depending on the type of trap.
The homeowner¹s association also blames the beavers for the erosion at a nearby sewer line, caused by changed stream flows over the winter. A change in the course of a stream could also be attributed to run-off, branches or logs lodged underwater, or an accumulation of debris.
Regardless, the permit to kill the beavers was taken out in October, before winter and any changes to the flow had occurred. We monitored Incline Creek, working with IVGID, from 2011 through October 2012, and had seen no change in water levels or any additional erosion then.
Tearing apart beaver dams in a riparian zone, with no erosion controls in place, also released unfiltered sediment and nutrient-rich water into the creek and thus the Lake.
Several of us made attempts via phone and e-mail to contact the homeowners’ office, but only got through after we had alerted and involved other agencies. Although destroying beavers and their habitat may seem like the easiest solution, it’s both inhumane and needlessly destructive to these sensitive areas. And when there are less invasive and more humane alternatives available, we are perplexed and saddened by their choice.
To prevent needless killing of wildlife in the future, if you see any potential problems anywhere, please call the BEAR League (530-525-PAWS) or Sierra Wildlife Coalition (530-320-9923). Visit our booths at Earth Day at Squaw Valley on April 20 for more information. Even better, call or write your state legislators and Departments of Wildlife to demand reform to regulations at the very least non-lethal methods should be required first, and verified, before depredation/kill permits can be issued.
Sherry and Ted Guzzi and Mary Long, Sierra Wildlife Coalition; Ann Bryant, BEAR League; Cheryl Millham, Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care; Coral Amende, Wylie Animal Rescue Foundation