Sadly, Burien’s Two Beavers Have Been Euthanized
Sad news today from King County Miller/Walker Creek Basin Steward Dennis Clark â€“ remember the two beavers who made their home (and subsequent dam) in a pond near Des Moines Memorial Drive in Burien?
They were euthanized last week.
Previously, we asked Readers what the city should do in regards to the creatures, and the results were:
- 65% voted “Leave them alone, and just deal with the consequences”
- 33% said “Re-locate them safely in the wild somewhere else“
- 2% said “Just kill the dam things before they flood downtown!”
So much for our new campaign to hire a “Beaver Whisperer” to psychically tell them to leave. Oh well.
Here’s an email we received from Dennis on Wednesday (Oct. 21st):
I’m sorry to report that last week the beavers were euthanized.
We relied on the expertise of the wildlife biologists at the US Department of Agriculture-Wildlife Services Branch to make a determination about whether to relocate or euthanize the animals. Â Their staff were very concerned about the transmission of disease (both from our animals to other animals and vice versa) and I suspect that was what led to euthanizing the beavers. Â Their trained staff carried out the removal on behalf of the City.
As I mentioned to you before, the key problem was that keeping the beavers would raise the average water level in the wetland as they built up their dams and/or blocked the culverts under Des Moines Memorial Drive. Â Beaver behavior (not unlike that of the other dam-builders, we humans) is to expand their territory. Â If they were allowed to do this, there would be little room for the wetland to hold more water before it began to flood the septic drain field and driveways of one or more neighbors. Â An even higher water level would threaten both homes and the integrity of Des Moines Memorial Drive itself.
This last Saturday, October 17, provided a dramatic example of how the wetland responds to rain. Â From 8 a.m. to Noon — a mere four hour period — I observed the wetland water level increase by over one foot! Because the beavers had been removed and the water level lowered the previous day, the wetland was able to handle this rise in the water level, which still came just to the level of the nearest neighbor’s driveway.
Fluctuation of the level of the wetland IS a good thing because that is a sign that the wetland is storing water during storms. Â If the wetland didn’t exist (and the City should be recognized for conserving it through purchase back in 2005) or if there were larger culverts under Des Moines Memorial Drive, the water would otherwise rush downstream, potentially flooding private and public property in Burien and Normandy Park and damaging stream ecology with higher flows (scouring spawning gravel, causing erosion, blowing fish and leaf debris downstream).
I was excited when the beavers showed up this spring because the healthiest streams do include beaver in their ecosystems. Â I researched whether there were techniques we could apply that would allow us to keep the beavers as neighbors without flooding the human neighbors or undermining Des Moines Memorial Drive. Â I observed their interaction with the wetland and talked with the neighbors to learn from them.
And I had hours to think on all of this while chest-deep in water each time I cleared out the culverts the beavers had blocked! Â By the end of the summer, both I and City staff reluctantly concluded that there was not room for beavers in this urbanized stream.
It was a sad outcome for me personally because I came to respect the energy and dam-building skill of these remarkable rodents in addition to appreciating their ecological value. Â However, I was also reminded each time I had to unplug the culverts or adjust the height of their dams that there’s a reasons we term beavers WILDLIFE. Â They have their own needs and aren’t amenable to being “managed.” Â Unfortunately, we could not accommodate their needs in this situation.
So…what do YOU think of the fact that these two dams beavers are now sleepin’ wit’ da fishes?
Please take our poll below, and/or leave a Comment…