By Brenna Galdenzi
Last year Protect Our Wildlife (POW) launched a statewide Living With Wildlife campaign to help towns pursue nonlethal methods to address human-wildlife conflicts. In Vermont, countless wild animals, including beavers, foxes, raccoons, and others, are killed under a dangerously vague statute that allows landowners and municipalities to kill wildlife that’s merely suspected to cause damage to property. No reporting is required, so our own Fish & Wildlife Department has little to no data on how many animals are killed.
Good news is that POW recently partnered with the Town of Marlboro to help prevent beavers from being trapped in leghold and body-gripping traps, while also preventing beaver-related flooding and subsequent road damage. With grant funding, POW provided financial support to install three culvert protective water flow devices, called Beaver Deceivers™, on Grant Road in Marlboro. This site is one of three that the town will have protected with such devices to save the wetlands and maintain these rich ecosystems for beavers and many other species of wildlife.
Water flow control devices are the most efficient and cost-effective tools to prevent beaver-related flooding and road damage and also to protect these keystone species. Traditional methods of removing beavers usually involve shooting or using leghold or body gripping traps, both of which are not only cruel, but offer only a temporary “solution”; good wetland habitat will host beavers – we can learn to live with them. Also, beavers have tightly knit family units with the kits living in the lodge with their mother, father, brothers and sisters until they are about two years old, at which point they are not yet mature enough to mate, but independent enough to leave the area and start building their own lodge, using the skills they learned from their family. Trapping and killing leaves kits orphaned and results in a futile loop of trapping and killing with no long-term benefits.
As our planet continues to face the real effects of climate change, including drought, we should learn to value these invaluable environmental allies and embrace coexistence over killing.