Suburban Beavers Right at Home

Homeowners and wildlife agencies grapple with opposition to beaver-trapping law

Outdoor Life Online Editor

When a homeowner looks out across his suburban backyard and sees 3 feet of standing water, it's no doubt troubling. When he knows that it's all the work of one of nature's most prolific landscapers, the beaver, the homeowner should be able to do something to curb the problem. After all, pools of water like that don't make for good places to have a weekend barbecue, they run a high risk of flooding and they are breeding havens for mosquitos.

So why is there so much opposition to a bill that would lift restrictions on the use of traps to control an exploding beaver population in Massachusetts? Because animal-rights activists have condemned certain traps as inhumane, instead advocating other methods of controlling the beavers, like draining the standing pools with water pumps. Of course, anyone who's ever actually dealt with beavers and the problems they cause knows that draining their pools only gives them the challenge of refilling them overnight.

Animal-rights groups do approve the use of certain body-gripping traps, which are considered more humane, but many trappers have said these traps are too cumbersome and expensive to use. Additionally, because many of the problems have occurred near suburban areas, some people are concerned about having the traps near children and pets.

As of right now, the Natural Resources Committee, as well as the state Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, is advocating lifting the restrictions and allowing more effective traps to be used to control the beaver population.

The Massachusetts fiscal 2005 budget is requiring the Division of Fish and Wildlife to study the beaver problem in the western portion of the state and make a report on the problem to the Legislature by Jan. 1, 2005.

Source: Erik Arvidson, MediaNews Statehouse Bureau