Mostly Trapping

Beaver trapping agendas could ruin Beaver Creek Park
Nov 9, 2020 10:35 ET

[Reprinted from original]

Is our park board being unduly influenced by animal rights advocates, especially when it comes to Beaver Creek Park?

After attending several meetings and listening to representatives of animal rights groups and a sympathetic park board member, residents of Hill County should be concerned.

The Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks oversees the management of Montana’s wildlife, fish and parks. It uses scientific studies, ethical and humane methods to do this. Montana counties rely on committees and boards to maintain care of the parks within their boundaries.

Beaver Creek Park has been overseen and managed successfully for decades by the Hill County Park Board. Diverse activities are available because of this. Camping, hiking, fishing, available leased cabin sites, and use of Camp Kiwanis are just a few. Cattle grazing and haying are available to local ranchers as a part of the fire control system.

The park also has diverse wildlife that can be observed, photographed and enjoyed. A person can see turkeys, geese, hawks, ducks, deer, elk, bobcat, mountain lion, bears, raccoon, weasels, mink, muskrat and beavers.

Because humans also use the park, wildlife management is necessary for a comfortable co-existence. The park board has accomplished this. When grass is scarce, grazing and haying are curtailed. Cabin sites are inspected, owners notified for non-compliance, campsites are maintained, garbage is collected and problem wildlife are monitored and managed.

One animal has been managed in the park for years, the beaver. This large rodent has been removed from the Park through trapping, which has been recognized by FWP as an acceptable, humane method of wildlife management. Trapping is practiced throughout the state for many species.

There are certain parts of the population both in Montana and out that are against trapping. A few people within this group have now tried to become part of the management of Beaver Creek Park.

What do you do about the problem beaver in the Park and the damage they do? Currently a discussion and investigation to secure a study on beaver and their habitat is being explored.

When wildlife species are involved in a study, a person with specific knowledge of the species is usually hired. A buffer zone around the study area may be established. This zone can be anywhere from a few feet to many miles. For accurate data collection during the study, this zone usually remains free from human, domestic animal, vehicle, farm equipment and non-native wildlife. Normally, in a study of this kind, the area in the park where the beaver activity would be studied, no humans, cows, vehicles or equipment would be allowed within this zone.

The beaver would be allowed to live in the area without interference. Usually one alpha pair are placed in the area, reproducing and developing a colony of from eight to 12 beaver at any given time. It would require a habitat that would provide sufficient water flow to develop a pond for the water they need, young growth trees, willows, and grasses on which to eat and for building dams to control water flow. Old growth trees, 20 years-plus, to maintain proper length of their incisors. The pair will establish the hierarchy of the colony. When the kits reach 2 years old they are banished from the colony or killed by the alpha pair. These juveniles disperse into other areas. Of note is this one alpha pair, they and their offspring, can produce from 80-125 beaver within four years. When this designated habitat can no longer support the colony three things happen, the beaver move, they starve to death or are ravaged by zoonotic diseases such as tularemia and giardia.

It has been suggested to shoot, instead of trap, problem beaver. A few reasons this would not be an acceptable practice:

1. It is illegal to discharge a firearm in Beaver Creek Park

2. Wasting the fur of a state furbearer is against the law according to Montana Code Annotated.

3. Not retrieving the carcass; leaving it in the pond causes water contamination during decomposition.

4. Some carcasses will wash up onto shorelines of ponds and creeks causing health hazards.

5. When shooting on or around water there is the possibility of ricochet causing injury to animals or people in the vicinity.

The time has come for park users to let the park board know what they want done, not allow animal rights advocates and others continue their agendas. If the opinions and voices of the public are not heard and the Hill County Park Board is not allowed to manage the park as they have been doing, these agendas could very well ruin our park.

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Fran Buell of Gildford is a long-time user of Beaver Creek Park and, with her husband, Jim, is a member of the National Trappers Hall of Fame.