New Home and new mate in Beatrix the Beaver’s future

Friday, July 24, 2015

Beatrix will have a new home and a new mate

Text and Photos by Kim Josund

Thankfully, Brookside Elementary School’s beaver went right into the live trap set by UW researcher Ben Dittbrenner this week.

It turns out “Billy the Beaver” was actually a Beatrix (see Seattle Times story about this beaver being saved from lethal trapping earlier). She is a healthy, beautiful, adult female, weighing in at 35.6 lbs, and was caught unharmed on the first night of trapping.

Researchers pull the trap from the beaver dam in Hillside Creek
Relocation of Beatrix was necessary due to impending construction along the streambank near her dams, and the School District’s concerns about flooding of the school playfield.

The Lake Forest Park Stewardship Foundation and neighbors consulted with Ben, an expert in non-lethal management options, about the situation at Brookside Elementary, located at 17447 37th Ave NE in Lake Forest Park. Ben’s nonprofit, Beavers Northwest, specializes in helping find the right solution to beaver conflicts.

The beaver is carried through the Brookside Elementary school parking lot

The two methods most commonly used for management are a pond leveling device, which allows beavers to remain onsite but prevents flooding, and a beaver exclusion device, which prevents beavers from plugging road culverts. Unfortunately, this site on Hillside Creek wasn't a good fit  for effective use of either of these methods.

Therefore, it was determined that this beaver would be an excellent candidate for Ben’s research project, in cooperation with Tulalip Tribal Fisheries, to relocate ‘nuisance’ urban beavers to the wild and study beavers’ contribution to water quality and salmon habitat.  

Ben and his assistant, UW intern Desirae, set and checked the traps for four nights, and monitored the area with motion-activated wildlife cameras, but found no sign of other beavers after catching Beatrix.

The beaver, later named Beatrix by neighborhood kids,
shows off her beautiful coat and tail

Beatrix is now doing well in a special pen at the holding facility, where she will be matched with potential mates. The beaver pair will then be released to carefully selected and prepared habitat in the Skykomish watershed, where their activities will be monitored for 1-2 years. Hopefully a ‘happily ever after’ story for Beatrix!

Traps like this one, when properly sited and set, capture beaver unharmed.
A stick 'fence' in the streambed helps guide the beaver into the trap

Beatrix was an effective engineer, having constructed four dams in the last few months, creating several shallow ponds in that section of Hillside Creek. Beaver ponds are excellent habitat for fish and other aquatic organisms, and improve water quality with slowed flows and natural filtration, so it would have been ideal if she could have stayed there.

Hillside Creek joins Brookside Creek, where the elementary school students release baby salmon each spring. It’s very possible that the area will again attract beavers some day, so the School District and City of LFP need to be forward-thinking in creative solutions for coexisting with our urban wildlife.


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