The Easter Beaver
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, April 1999:
The beaver in this photo by
Sharon Brown of Beavers, Wetlands
& Wildlife actually has an apple, not
an egg. (The egg-laying aquatic
mammal is the platypus.)
“New York City decisionmakers
will soon decide whether to
ban trapping in city-owned watershed,”
Brown wrote in an accompanying note.
Approximately 2,000 square miles of upstate New York
will be affected.
“Besides being indiscriminate and inhumane,”
Brown continued, “trapping beavers destroys wetlands,
our most valuable ecosystem in terms of natural services
such as biodiversity, erosion control, and water pollution
abatement. Please urge the New York City Department of
Environmental Protection to ban trapping on city land
within the watershed for humane and environmental reasons,”
Brown asked. “Write to Joel Miele Sr.,
Commissioner, NYC DEP, 59-17 Junction Blvd.,
Corona, NY 11368.”
One alleged reason for trapping beavers in the
watershed is preventing the spread of giardia, an intestinal
disease caused by microscopic snails. Also called “beaver
fever,” the disease is actually carried mainly by seagulls.
Fifteen beavers from the South Western
Riverside County Multispecies Reserve in California
meanwhile enjoyed a small spring miracle when public
pressure obliged the reserve managers to live-trap them
instead of killing them, as was originally planned.
The beavers were targeted for allegedly menacing
willow trees used by endangered least Bell’s vireos and
willow flycatchers––although beaver swamps are also part
of the critical habitat for willow flycatchers, according to
recent research. Two beavers were killed in unsuccessful
trapping; three were given to Worldwide Movie Animals,
which trains animals for film use; six were donated to
zoos; and the remaining four were sent to Wildlife Rescue
& Rehabilitation Inc., of Bourne, Texas.
WR&R founder Lynn Cuny said she would soon
release the four beavers she received at a suitable site on
private property, where they will be welcome.
Texas Wildlife Damage Management Service
director Gary Nunley was skeptical of that plan, however,
pointing out that state-hired trappers killed 4,118 “problem”
beavers in 1998 at 919 locations.