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photoA beaver from the old Judd Ranch up Gold Creek waits for the trip to its family's new home up the Chewuch River.
photoBiologists Alexis Monetta and Keith Douville load food into the truck with the captured beavers.

Reverse Trapping
Transplanting nuisance beavers

Another family of beavers was returned to the Methow wilds this week by biologists Alexis Monetta and Keith Douville of the Washington State Department of Wildlife.

photoCaptured beavers take a snack on the ramp of their temporary lodge at the fish hatchery.

Monetta and Douville trap Methow Valley beavers where they have become nuisances because they dam water and chew down trees.

The biologists take the captured beavers to the Winthrop National Fish Hatchery and puts them in temporary lodges built in the flowing water of old fish tanks. The biologists provide the food, and keep the beavers at the hatchery until they can catch the whole family from one site and take the intact group to another place, where their natural activities won’t be a nuisance to humans.

This week a father, mother, two juveniles and a ‘kit’ (the youngest beaver) - were headed up the Chewuch after their stay at the fish hatchery. The biologists captured them at the old Judd Ranch near Gold Creek. This is the eighth group moved up the Chewuch this season, Monetta said.

Once the beaver family is in place, the biologists will be check several times per week for a little while and then a few times per month until they are satisfied that the beaver family has successfully settled in.

“We work really hard to find good sites and enhance the sites,” so that the beavers will remain where they are transplanted, said Douville. The biologists sometimes go so far as to plant aspen in the area and build the beavers a simple lodge.

Six beavers remain at the hatchery to be moved out this fall before the program shuts down for the season in a couple weeks.

Monetta was born and raised in the Methow Valley. Douville comes from Minnesota. “Lots of beaver there,” he grinned.

The beaver project has been ongoing here since 2008, Monetta said, and has found new homes for a couple hundred beavers. Project cooperators include the Washington Department of Wildlife, the Winthrop National Fish Hatchery, the US Forest Service and the Methow Conservancy.


Have a comment? >>

Thank you for sharing this significant wildlife restoration project. It is the most encouraging indication to me, that we can restore habitat from both the top down(wolves,hawks,owls,and cougars),and the bottom up (beavers-water tables, and prescribed fire-thinning). Neither approach can work alone, and getting this message out is a good start at encouraging ecological literacy. Find THE WISE ONE by Frank Conibear and J.L.Blundell,for a good novel about beavers. And if you enjoy movies, then GREY OWL staring Pierce Brosnon(alias 007)also features beavers.

Eric Burr

near Mazama