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Beavers Get A Reprieve

Utah Division of Wildlife Resources

A Prospector neighborhood resident saw an animal trapper while out on the Rail Trail this week and expressed concern over Park City Municipal’s plans to trap and euthanize at least two beavers with lodges in Poison Creek. Due to a handful of animal welfare activists and state agencies, the beaver will not be euthanized but rather relocated to a designated wilderness area in the San Rafael region of south central Utah.

After dismantling two beaver lodges every day for a couple of weeks, only to have them rebuilt over-night, Park City’s Public Works Director Troy Dayley says he was carrying out city protocol to trap and euthanize the animals. A couple of beaver dams in Poison Creek near Cochise Court were causing flooding and property damage. After the story got around, social media sites were rampant with opposition to the city’s beaver euthanasia program.

Now, Humane Society of Utah board member John Ziegler is involved and has, in less than 24 hours coordinated a relocation program through Utah State University.

“There’s oftentimes resources in place that can have a situation like this turn out favorably. It’s just a matter of contacting the right people and explaining the story to the right people. And between Utah State and DWR and a number of other resources, usually a good situation can come out of it. I’m just glad we were able to help here.”

Dayley told KPCW one of the traps was vandalized and with the winter fast approaching, he wants to put more traps out to capture the two juvenile beaver that are lodging in the area.

Ziegler says he can understand how people would want to protect the animals but now that a relocation plan is in place, the traps should be left alone.

“It’s a disturbing story if the plan was to euthanize them. The issue that Troy pointed out to me is that when people heard the story yesterday, apparently there has been some vandalism and damage done to the traps. It’s critical for the beaver’s welfare that the traps not be disturbed.”

Nick Bouwes is with Utah State University’s Water Shed Sciences Department and is director of the Beaver Rehabilitation and Relocation Center. Their mission is to catch nuisance beavers and relocate them. He says they are a new department established at the University. Their research shows beaver create a positive impact for stream ecosystems including reconnecting flood plains, creating good fish habitat and expanding green riparian areas. They’re using beaver to help restore sage grouse habitat. Bouwes says they encourage communities to use strategies to live in harmony with the animals because it can be an ongoing battle even when they are relocated.

"Such as putting pond levelers in and putting fencing around trees and so on because a lot of times if there are a few beavers there, you can take them out and then others come back in and this can be a recurring problem. But the situation in Park City sounds like it might not be a viable option.”

Bouwes says they’ve built models to identify places around the state where beaver can succeed. They work with the Division of Wildlife Resources to cover costs and find good relocation sites. Volunteers, technicians and a graduate student are helping to get the program off the ground.

Once the Poison Creek beaver are trapped, they’ll go into a three- day quarantine and then transported to their new homes. 

KPCW reporter Carolyn Murray covers Summit and Wasatch County School Districts. She also reports on wildlife and environmental stories, along with breaking news. Carolyn has been in town since the mid ‘80s and raised two daughters in Park City.
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