Beaver removal update: They were hunted, not trapped | SierraSun.com

Beaver removal update: They were hunted, not trapped

Matthew Renda
Sierra Sun

KINGS BEACH, Calif. and#8212; Wildlife agents used rifles in early October to hunt, shoot and kill four beavers that had built three different dams at the mouth of Griff Creek on Lake Tahoe’s North Shore, a Placer County official confirmed last week.

and#8220;Trapping presents some logistical problems, so we hunted the beavers,and#8221; said Josh Huntsinger, commissioner of the Placer County Department of Agriculture.

When asked if hunting meant the four beavers were shot and killed, Huntsinger replied in the affirmative.

and#8220;Licensed wildlife specialists shot and killed them,and#8221; he said. and#8220;They are trained professionals.and#8221;

Huntsinger said the hunt was carried out after dark with special equipment to ensure no residents were endangered by the operation.

and#8220;We evaluate the park to identify the exact point where the operation can be carried out safely,and#8221; he said. and#8220;My wildlife specialists receive 30 hours of training per year regarding hunt operations such as this. I have complete confidence in their abilities.and#8221;

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The Placer County Flood Control Agency obtained a depredation permit from California Department of Fish and Game to carry out the hunt, Huntsinger said.

The beaver removal operation took place over concerns the dams built by the family of beavers would cause floods on Highway 28, said Peter Kraatz, deputy director of Placer County Department of Public Works, in an Oct. 13 story at sierrasun.com. Additionally, the beavers were chopping trees that were landing on vehicles parked at the North Tahoe Fire Protection District department near the creek, Kraatz said.

Nevertheless, the removal operation sparked outrage in the Kings Beach community and wildlife advocates based in Lake Tahoe.

and#8220;The killing of beavers like this is tragic,and#8221; said Cheryl Millham, executive director of Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care, during a Friday, Oct. 8, community rally at the Griff Creek site. and#8220;Especially when considering so many communities throughout the United States have learned how to peacefully co-exist with these animals.and#8221;

The removal of beavers in and round the Lake Tahoe Basin has happened before. According to a Nov. 21, 2006, Sierra Sun story, as part of the first phase of the Trout Creek restoration project, the town of Truckee worked with Fish and Game, the Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and an environmental consultant to remove beaver dams that were reportedly changing the flow of Trout Creek by raising the water level three to four feet in the winter.

Furthermore, according to a 2007 thesis study by Sarah A. Muskopf, of Humboldt State University, all of the dams in the main channel of Taylor Creek near the South Shore are destroyed annually in early fall by the USDA Forest Service to allow kokanee salmon to spawn, a practice that could have a detrimental effect on Lake Tahoe.

and#8220;Natural lagoons formed by high lake levels and ponds formed by beavers combine with the natural topography of the landscape to provide natural buffers, reducing pollutants and sediment loads entering Lake Tahoe,and#8221; according to the study.