JUNEAU (AP) -- After hearing from Gov. Frank Murkowski, the U.S. Forest Service has decided not to kill a troublesome colony of beavers in the Dredge Lakes area this winter.
The Forest Service last week announced a plan to manage beavers in the popular recreation area north of Back Loop Road that included catching one colony with body-hold traps, which kill them. The goal was to remove the colony's dams for good so fish could migrate in and out of lakes, and trails and spawning habitat wouldn't be flooded.
But Murkowski's office said late Monday his staff had met with Forest Service officials about the governor's desire that the beavers be trapped alive and relocated.
Acting District Ranger Sara Baldwin told the Juneau Empire Tuesday that the agency agreed to defer implementing its beaver management plan and would work with Murkowski's office on alternatives, such as relocating the beavers.
Betty Seguin, who lives near Dredge Lakes, called the news ''wonderful.''
''When I take my walk today I'll let them know they're safe for another year,'' she said.
Murkowski also was happy to hear about the Forest Service's change of heart.
''We can relocate the beavers and remove their dams so as to avoid the flooding of trails, and all of us -- including the beavers -- can have a happy Christmas,'' he said.
Nearly all of the 15 people who commented this summer on the Forest Service's proposal to remove beavers said they wanted the beavers left alone or relocated.
But the Forest Service has said it would be time-consuming and difficult to trap so many beavers alive. There could be two to eight beavers in the colony.
Deputy Regional Forester Steve Brink said Tuesday it wouldn't be practical to try to live-trap the beavers in the winter, when they're under ice a lot of the time.
Baldwin said the Forest Service would work with Murkowski's office to find a place to move the beavers to. The only other option would be for the Forest Service to continue to cut openings in beaver dams and repair roads and trails, she said.
The management plan for beavers allows the animals to remain in more than half of the waters of the recreation area.
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