BB Village may kick out beavers

Published on Thu, Feb 28, 2002 by Meg Olson

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BB Village may kick out beavers

By Meg Olson

The board of directors at Birch Bay Village has applied to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) to trap the beavers and muskrats that live in the community’s ponds.

“The board’s intended action is to have them relocated,” said board chairman Mike Kent. “Our preference is that they not be killed.”

Nicknamed “Clearcut” by some residents, one of the beavers has taken out 13 trees this year, according to Kent. “It’s been an active year for him,” he said. Three beavers are living in the pond which feeds into the Birch Bay Village marina, and have built a dam at one end. Kent said wildlife officials had told the Birch Bay Village board they could not remove it with the animals living there.

The board voted unanimously at their last meeting to apply for state help in getting rid of the animals to protect homes and facilities from damage. “We’re concerned about flooding, about protecting the environment and homes,” he said “I don’t know how we will be able to cohabitate with them.”

Sharon Bakke, a resident and member of the Birch Bay Village board, said the beavers were certainly a problem, but she liked having them around. “I’ve got a quince bush he’s been gnawing on nightly,” she admitted, “but my personal view is that I don’t advocate removing them. We’re here in their territory.”

In an application submitted on January 22 by operations manager Jim Drake on behalf of the board, he states the beavers are plugging up culverts, cutting down resident’s trees and gnawing through deck posts. Muskrats are accused of digging holes around the lake that are a safety risk for golfers. “We spend two hours a day unplugging items and hundreds of dollars to haul debris away,” Drake states. According to the application, non-lethal methods of getting along with the beavers, such as beaver gates on culverts, haven’t worked and furthermore, Drake states, they “tried to have them trapped but no one will come out to our area.” In signing the application, Drake certified that the problem cannot be resolved by reasonable non-lethal means and applied for state permission to bring in WDFW trappers to remove seven to 10 beaver and muskrat.

WDFW representative Doug Williams said beaver complaints are fairly common and typically involve girding trees, plugging irrigation systems and flooding fields. “Beavers are a tough issue,” he said. “They change the landscape they live in. Their teeth continue to grow so they continue to chew, and they love damming.” However, he said his department would only approve an application to trap or kill the animals after a thorough review of other solutions. “What kind of things can you do to alleviate the problem without killing them or even moving them?” he said. “Moving a beaver is, after all, just moving the problem.” He added that, at this time of year moving the beavers was not recommended. “If you move them away from their food cache in winter they could die.”

Williams said first steps should include wrapping tree trunks, and installing fencing or “beaver baffles” to keep them out of areas where they cause the most damage. “Some of those things have been done in the past,” Kent said. “They just go deeper into the community. As the beavers increase in population and more people make their homes here, it’s going to get harder. We have a lot of wonderful wildlife here and we’re trying to preserve what we can.”

Birch Bay Village resident Louise Carlone thinks the community needs to try harder. “We need to find out what we can do to learn to live with wildlife,” she said. “We can both do what we want to do but it’s up to us as humans to take the initiative, the responsibility.” Carlone contacted the Progressive Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) and the county wildlife rescue network and said creative solutions would allow Birch Bay Village residents to keep their homes, trees and all, and still preserve the reason they moved here.

“There’s a lot that can be done to fool a beaver,” she said. “Why would we take away the wildlife that was a selling point for Birch Bay Village? Then all you’d have left is a California-style beach development.”..
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