A recent article described the flooding problems that have been created by beavers in the Dredge Lake area of the Mendenhall Valley, but the measures being taken in an attempt to resolve the problem - trapping and killing the beavers - are not only inhumane, but are also unlikely to affect the flooding problem long term.
While traps set for beavers under ice will ensure that beavers are the only animals trapped, the traps that will be used - Conibear traps - are not the quick killing traps that trappers and wildlife managers claim them to be.
In the July/August 2001 issue of American Trapper Magazine, trapper Jim Comstock explains that beavers can be taken out of traps as large as #330 Conibears very much alive. The Conibear kills by holding animals until they suffocate or drown - a death deemed inhumane by the American Veterinary Medical Association.
A beaver's instincts tell them to build a dam where there is suitable habitat and the sound of running water. As long as these factors remain, beaver activity will be present. Fortunately, there are ways to permit the free-flow of water without having to destroy lodges and kill beavers.
"Beaver Deceivers" and "Beaver Bafflers" are two products that have been proven to help relieve or prevent unwanted flooding. One technique uses a PVC pipe which is pushed through the bottom of a beaver lodge, permitting water to flow through the pipe and reducing pond levels and easing flooding. The other technique uses a welded-wire cage to block areas so that they are inaccessible to beavers, but still allow water to flow freely.
A new age of wildlife management is needed, one that preserves and protects wildlife and the areas where they live.
Tax dollars generated from the sale of weapons and ammunition should be used to help the victims of gun violence and their families instead of supporting more violence under the guise of hunting. Similar taxes can be placed on equipment used by wildlife watchers (the largest segment of the wildlife-associated recreation community nationwide) and the money generated could support programs that enhance biodiversity and the well-being of wildlife. To help bring about a world that values wildlife protection over wildlife destruction, visit www.wildwatch.org.
Wildlife Watch Inc.
New Paltz, N.Y.