Sadly, Burien’s Two Beavers Have Been Euthanized

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Sad news today from King County Miller/Walker Creek Basin Steward Dennis Clark – 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.  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.  Their trained staff carried out the removal on behalf of the City.

One of Burien's two beavers that was euthanized last week.

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.  Beaver behavior (not unlike that of the other dam-builders, we humans) is to expand their territory.  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.  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.  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.  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.  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.  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!  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.  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.  They have their own needs and aren’t amenable to being “managed.”  Unfortunately, we could not accommodate their needs in this situation.

– Dennis

So…what do YOU think of the fact that these two dams beavers are now sleepin’ wit’ da fishes?

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Do you think that Burien's two beavers should've been euthanized?

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9 Responses to “Sadly, Burien’s Two Beavers Have Been Euthanized”
  1. Inga says:

    So, I am confused. What happened to moving them?

  2. Todd says:

    I’m surprised there was no mention of other solutions. I have seen multiple presentations on efforts that can be taken to prevent beavers from damning culverts, such as the type show on

    I have beavers on farmland I own in North Dakota, and drains have been placed into the dam to prevent flooding of the adjacent road. I’m just surprised this doesn’t sound like a solution that was explored.

  3. Lynn says:

    No one likes to have wildlife killed, but sometimes we have to do what we have to do. This was such a case.

  4. Rachel says:

    So sad. The solutions are never easy when humans and wildlife occupy the same space. I would like to think, since this truly was a matter of life and death, that every option was fully researched and all of the possibilities exhausted. Glad the decision wasn’t mine…

  5. Molly says:

    How sad!!
    … “we could not accommodate their needs in this situation.” Come on, its 2 Beavers, how hard could it REALLY be. Fact is, killing them is cheaper than figuring out how to accommodate them. Its all about money as usual. Mean ol beaver killers.

  6. Secily says:

    These beavers were on our property!! They didn’t try all of their options, nor did they care that we were happy to have them there! Dennis spoke with us about different ways they could make it so that the beavers couldn’t build their dam up, but the city and county didn’t want to foot the bill for the mechanism. This was not a case of them doing what they had to do, it was a case of the easiest fix! We will be contacting everyone we can to get the word out on what has happened here, including the trespassing of private property!!

  7. Douglas says:

    They act like bleeding harts to get votes but like Al Gore they will tell you to pay more and to do this and that to save the enviroment. But you see now that the words of liberals is all you will get no action never practice what they preach.I lived at 17207 desmoines mem dr. Those beavers slowed the water down stream ,they made the area home to so many animals that had to leave after they killed the first beaver about 10 years ago. Those beavers did more for our eco system then all these empty suits could ever do. I will send this info to PETA and the media and other animal right groups. See what happens I hope whom ever made the call to kill these great animals pay with the loss of there jobs. Thanks a lot Burien has become more and more ghetto and run down and they take away the only good thing Burien had going for it. Now all you get. Is griffitti and trash on the side of the road.

  8. Raven says:

    I’m disgusted with the decision to euthanize these two beavers, who in the longrun would have been a wonderful addition to our population, whose first and final thoughts are to kill whatever offers a change in their lives…..Example: Removing trees helter skelter just because “Chicken Little” said they MIGHT fall at some point……and Oh Yeah, “They are messy”…..Why to do we live in such a diverse and fantastically beautiful area of the World???? Because we love it. Why is it so difficult to find ways to live with the wildlife in our area, the raccoons, moles, and now beavers????? Aren’t we smart enough to find ways to co-exist with them without destroying their habitat and their actual lives, without being so fearful that they might upset our lives????? Oh Yeah, I forget, it is just easier to End their lives. I am so sorry to hear they are no longer with us. I had hopes that our youth might actually learn something from periodically checking on these two and following their lives….Oh Yeah, I digress. They are dead…..

  9. Bill says:

    They should have at least used the beaver meat to feed some homeless people……..

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