Kretz’s Beaver Bill on the move again

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Kretz’s Beaver Bill on the move again

Measure would allow for beavers deemed a nuisance to be relocated to areas where they are needed, wanted

A new approach to help parched parts of the state retain water and create flourishing wetlands is the subject of House Bill 2349 sponsored by Rep. Joel Kretz, R-Wauconda. The legislation, also known as the Beaver Bill, would allow for beavers considered a nuisance in Washington to be live-trapped and relocated to areas in in the state where they can create natural dams to store water and improve stream flows. The measure passed the House unanimously on Feb. 10.

“I ran this bill several years ago in an attempt to make sure we have healthy aquifers, particularly in the upper watershed areas. It received great support in the House and Senate. Unfortunately, the governor vetoed the legislation. She promised that the Department of Fish and Wildlife would work on a plan to relocate the creatures from places they're not wanted to areas of the state where they are welcome additions to the ecosystem,” Kretz said. “That hasn't worked out so far, so now I'm back asking for a similar proposal to be passed so we can get a system in place that helps those of us concerned about natural water storage and the protection of animals.”

As passed, House Bill 2349 would:

  • Address bothersome beavers through non-lethal live-trapping and relocation to areas where a beaver's inherent industriousness can be utilized to enhance high elevation water storage, increase in-stream river flows and improve water quality and wildlife habitat;
  • Reduce the red tape currently in place that inhibits and often prevents beaver relocation;
  • Authorize the Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) to continue to permit the release of beavers on public and private lands with consent of the landowner, and allow the WDFW to limit the release of beavers based on the likelihood of future damage or availability of suitable habitat conditions;
  • Require the WDFW to inform anyone requesting beavers of the locations of surplus beavers available for capture and relocation;
  • Require the WDFW to continue to provide quarterly reports online that detail nuisance beaver damage, beaver trapping, and relocation efforts; and
  • Require the WDFW to initiate a beaver management stakeholder's forum by January 1, 2013 and report the outcomes of the forum to the Legislature.

“This bill solves what can turn into a huge problem with a simple and effective solution,” said Rep. Brian Blake, D-Aberdeen, co-sponsor of the measure and chair of the Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee. “Sometimes we have beavers where we don't want them, this bill will help us take those beavers where we do want them, and everybody wins.”

Kretz effectively partnered with The Lands Council to fix a WDFW lethal beaver removal policy that is inconsistent with current science. The goal of which is to promote an efficient and cost-effective means to improve water quality and wildlife habitat throughout the state of Washington. So far, the group's effort has helped relocate 84 beavers, saving them from certain death.

“Beavers,” he said, “are a keystone species whose success allows other species to flourish.”

Beavers are born wetlands creators, constructing their dams in the streams of shallow valleys, according to Beavers, Wetlands and Wildlife, an organization that aims to help people live “in harmony” with Castor canadensis.

“What people don't understand is the unwanted beaver that folks say is stirring up trouble is destined to be trapped and killed without this legislation,” Kretz explained. “Why not allow this common-sense approach to addressing an essential need in our wild areas? My legislation would not require landowners to host a beaver, but it allows them to do so should there be a need and suitable habitat for the animal.”

House Bill 2349 will now head to the Senate for consideration.

CONTACT: Bobbi Cussins, Public Information Officer, (360) 786-7252

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Washington State House Republican Communications
houserepublicans.wa.gov