Authorities in Martinez, California were surprised at their community’s reaction to their decision to get rid of the beavers that were destroying the local waterway, a portion of Alhambra Creek that ran through the center of the city.
Two beavers had built a dam large enough to divert the waterway in several places, and had chewed through willows and landscaping the city had planted in previous years to prevent flooding. The flood control landscaping had cost the city $9.7 million, and it would be expensive to repair the damage the beavers had caused. City leaders decided the beavers had become a costly flood danger to their community.
Authorities felt they had to take action quickly to avoid extensive damage and danger, and plans were drawn up to get rid of the beaver population. California Department of Fish and Game (DFG) does not allow for relocation of beavers, so they had decided to trap and kill the beavers and destroy the dam.
The announcement was made, and city leaders expected their citizens would be grateful and supportive of their plans. If beaver dams cause flooding, it can result in contaminated drinking water and costly property damage. Although they also anticipated a few dissenters, however, reaction was exactly the opposite. While some people supported their efforts, they faced public outcry in favor of the beavers.
Local school teachers contended that the beavers provided a wonderful learning opportunity for the children and the community as a whole. Local business owners felt they would bring more tourists to their city. Environmentalists wanted to let nature take its course.
Due to the general public’s sentiments, DFG issued an exemption for the two living in the creek to enable them to be relocated. Public support was so strong for them, however, the city has decided to let them stay, provided certain criteria were met. Business owners downtown, especially, demanded the city provide adequate flood control measures. A steel cable was placed under the dam attached to anchors on each bank. If the waters rise to dangerously high levels, the cable could be pulled, pulling the dam apart. A flow device was also placed through the dam: a pipe allowing water to flow through the dam in an effort to keep the waters down to normal levels.
Of course, individual property owners may still be concerned about a growing beaver population. As the number of beavers increase, they will destroy trees, alter property lines through erosion caused by diverted waterways, or cause flooding, damaging homes and businesses. Individuals may still want to get rid of the beavers, but they will need to seek special permission from the local and state authorities before proceeding with any measures to do so.