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Beavers

posted Jan 26, 2017, 5:14 AM by Lori Lilly

Beavers are true ecological engineers – shaping stream and wetland systems, reducing erosion, and creating complex habitats that benefit multitudes of species. Beaver are a keystone species throughout North America, meaning a species on which other species in an ecosystem largely depend and, if removed, the ecosystem would change drastically.  Their population has made a tremendous comeback since being nearly extirpated in the 1800s.

To many, beaver are a pest because they damage trees, cause flooding and block culverts.  Typical response to these “conflicts” is to trap and euthanize beaver.  Some entities do not resort immediately to killing.  Montgomery Parks educates the public about the benefits of beavers, recognizes their important ecological role, and promotes alternative methods of beaver management such as tree protection and trickle levelers in dams.  Reston, VA employs similar techniques of public education, prevention and harassment before killing.

In Howard County, MD, the Department of Recreation and Parks states that “it shall be a goal of the Department of Recreation & Parks to practice an attitude of acceptance of, and tolerance for, beaver activity as part of the county’s natural environment and it will foster this attitude among the public through education.”  I would like to see this philosophy emphasized through policy and procedure in the County’s 2017 Land Preservation, Parks and Recreation Plan.  The current plan only provides one mention of beaver and that is within the context of “population control” – see page 102.  The County is currently accepting public input on the 2017 Land Preservation, Parks and Recreation Plan here.  Please join me in letting the County know that we value this incredible species and are in support of alternatives to killing, such those employed by the communities above, as a means for managing beaver conflict.

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