Tag Archives: Saving the Beavers

Natives Help Save Nature’s Engineers

“The rodents are often considered ‘nuisance animals’, but they can play a vital role in maintaining healthy landscapes.” L. Sherriff, The Guardian, Feb. 23, 2021

A beaver is released on to a stretch of river in northern Washington that has been prepped for its arrival. Photograph- Morgan Heim

 

Excerpt: Believers: Native Americans promote resurgence of ‘nature’s engineers‘ — Lucy Sherriff, The Guardian, Feb. 23, 2021

“Molly Alves steps down hard on the edge of a heavy wire trap, forcing its sides open with her hands. With care she lays the poised trap, baited with twigs and branches, in a bracingly cold stream. Her target? A beaver. Beavers are often considered ‘nuisance’ animals on the US west coast and, if captured, are destroyed by animal control companies.

Beavers caught from around the Seattle area stay at the Tulalip, Washington, fish hatchery before release Photograph- Morgan Heim

But the beaver picked up by Alves is to be transported to Alves’ employers, the Tulalip Tribes, a nation in Washington’s western corner. This Native American community, and others, are at the vanguard of the ‘beaver believer’ movement, which holds that the rodents can play an essential role in maintaining healthy landscapes.

Beavers are known as nature’s engineers, due to their dam-building habits. For decades they have been hated by landowners, who dislike the animals’ tendency to fell trees and flood areas. However, their dams – although seen by some as a nuisance – help control the quantity and quality of water flow, while their ponds create habitat for numerous plants and animal species, including fish… Back in 2018, Washington’s Cowlitz Indian Tribe started on an ambitious project: to reintroduce beavers back into the Gifford Pinchot national forest, a wild region on the slopes of the Cascade mountains, as part of efforts to reclaim indigenous land management practices.

The animals had not been in the region since the 1930s, after they were trapped into near-extinction in North America during the 1800s fur trade…’Our culture and members depend upon a healthy ecosystem,’ says Phil Harju, the chairman of the Cowlitz Indian Tribe. ‘Beavers are a key species that enable the ecosystem to function properly.’The successes in Washington have been keenly followed by tribal nations further down the coast.”

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