While urban residents of Colorado and Massachusetts, where trapping is outlawed, complain about nature's engineers and their damming efforts, the Penobscot of Maine learned to co-exist with a very large beaver population. "We have beaver-proofed our land for six years," said beaver expert Skip Lisle, a wildlife biologist who handles beaver issues for the tribe. He estimated the U.S. beaver population at 20 million, only a small fraction of what might have been 600 million before fur trappers decimated their numbers. Lisle devised the "beaver deceiver," a trapezoidal fence. Others advise wrapping trees in chicken wire to deflect the nocturnal animals who have become active in Denver and other major cities. Sherri Tippi of the Denver-based Wildlife 200 has relocated some 500 beavers. "I used to think the Platte River was a place where tires went to die. Now there are beavers in it." Tippi said critics have their priorities backward. "Beavers are supposed to be in the creek. When people move into a flood plain or riparian area they are going to encounter beaver." It is very important they learn to co-exist since "the beaver is the keystone species to an aquatic system."
Indian Country Today is a nonprofit news organization. Will you support our work?
All of our content is free. There are no subscriptions or costs. And we have hired more Native journalists in the past year than any news organization ─ and with your help we will continue to grow and create career paths for our people. Support Indian Country Today for as little as $10.