Beaver colony in Dredge Lakes to be killed

Posted: Monday, December 23, 2002

JUNEAU (AP) -- The U.S. Forest Service plans to kill a colony of beavers in the Dredge Lakes area.

The agency says the beavers have to go to preserve fish runs and reduce flooding on trails. But some Juneau residents wish the agency either would leave the beavers alone, or at least trap them alive and move them.

''It's fun to watch some of the work they're doing even if it's going to flood the trail you're walking on,'' neighborhood resident Betty Seguin said.

The Forest Service last week released its plan to manage beavers in a popular fishing and hiking area just north of Back Loop Road, west of Glacier Spur Road and east of the Mendenhall River.

The area is dotted with beaver dams that trap fish in ponds and flood trails and fish-spawning habitat.

Brian Glynn, area sportfish management biologist for the state Department of Fish and Game, said the ponds are popular with trout, coho and Dolly Varden fishermen.

The Forest Service has spent a few hundred hours a year in recent years punching holes in the beaver dams and unclogging culverts. Now it's decided on an ongoing management plan to remove the beavers.

''If a beaver moves into that area and does things that impact the trails and the fisheries management of that area, the beavers will be removed,'' said fish and wildlife biologist Don Martin.

Beavers will be allowed to remain in most of the lakes in the recreation area, and the agency will reroute some trails to avoid flooded areas, he said.

The beavers will be caught with body-hold traps, which kill them quickly, Martin said. The traps will be set under ice so pets and people won't stumble upon them.

The Forest Service will need permits from state Fish and Game because trapping is prohibited in the area, and will seek city approval because the city prohibits trapping within a half-mile of public roads.

Resident Margaret Walmer said the Forest Service should leave the beavers alone.

''I just don't like meddling in nature. I really do think we should let nature take its course and not interfere,'' she said.

Martin said it would be time-consuming and difficult to trap up to eight beavers alive, and they would cause the same sort of problems anywhere they were moved to.

He said the agency would consider live-trapping in the future as one or two beavers move into the removal zone.



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