from Footloose Montana
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Living up to its namesake, Beaver Creek Park, the largest county park in the country, has beaver. However, despite no cost offerings, those entrusted to the park’s management, are dead set the beaver are overpopulated and need to be trapped.
At 10,000 acres, Beaver Creek Park, is located 10 miles South of Havre, Montana in Hill county. It was designed for recreation. The park is 17 miles long by 1 mile wide with Beaver Creek running through it. There are 2 lakes for fishing, a 3.5 mile interpretative “Beaver Paw Nature Trail” and numerous camping opportunities. In the fall, cattle are put in the park.
An old-time trapper has trapped beaver in Beaver Creek for decades and at a reported kill rate of 180 beaver on average annually. He has simply grown too old to continue. That lead to Beaver Creek Park board member, Renelle Braatan, stepping up her ongoing wildlife advocacy on the board and for many months requesting the Park board and county Commissioners exploration into non-lethal alternatives to trapping beaver.
Dave Pauli with Humane Society of United States, out of Montana, proposed a grant to fully fund the installation and maintenance of beaver deceiver/s in 2-3 of the worst identified areas in the park for beaver activity. It would provide a cost effective non-lethal alternative demo site with potential added benefits to education, tourism, wildlife watching, and replication elsewhere.
In March, Trap Free Montana learned of the park happenings. We actively operated under the radar so as not to alert trappers and see this non-lethal opportunity turn into a perceived trapping war. Trap Free Montana conducted outreach to various beaver experts, encouraged and read some exceptional letters to the park board and Commissioners, coordinated and participated in conference calls and recommended we try to have certain diverse experts be available for the pending board meeting on May 4th.
Due to the approaching grant application deadline, and with our growing concern the grant proposal would be voted on at the upcoming meeting, Trap Free Montana, last minute, produced a sign on letter from our research. We included pertinent information written and reviewed by a handful of the very knowledgeable participants. We emailed it to the interested parties and dozens of our various random supporters mainly across Montana. We managed to quickly exceed our goal of 50 individuals signing on to the letter in time for it to be sent to the board and Commissioners prior to the meeting. Thank you to those who signed!
Unfortunately, it quickly became apparent little mattered even with the experts, Dave Pauli, Skip Lisle, and Torrey Ritter who were on the call for the meeting for questions and answers Monday eve. The Park board goal was not to eliminate conflicting beaver activity, even at no cost to them. Their goal was evident … to eliminate beaver! Dave Pauli’s repeated past outreach to help to move the grant forward had been ignored. Instead, Commissioner Mark Peterson motioned to “decline the grant at this time.” Stating, there “needs to be a plan in place first.” His motion passed 5:3. Joining, Renelle Braatan, in opposing the motion were Commissioner McLean and Commissioner Wendland.
Other options for healthy ecosystem management including a no cost consultant and the formation of a natural resource committee were denied in the past. Trap Free Montana advocated for tree wrapping and were told park visitors do not want to see fences around the trees.
Wonder how attractive the park visitors would find drowned and crushed trapped beaver?
Renelle’s term on the board is now up. The Hill County Commissioners will almost certainly not re-appoint her so they can continue operating status quo, including trapping, and silence her once and for all. Given the pandemic and economic challenges, future grants may be harder to come by.
The Montana Trappers Association is based out of the nearby town of Havre. Annually, they hold their youth trapping camp in Beaver Creek Park. They are just biting at the bit to continue to teach little kids how to trap and destroy all these readily available beaver.
We thank Renelle Braatan, Dave Pauli, and the others involved, including locals, in their attempt to make positive change for beaver and Beaver Creek Park.
We are asking you, in your own words respectfully express how you feel about the Beaver Creek Park board and Hill County Commissioners decision to oppose even free offerings for effective conflict resolution and their decision to continue to destroy their namesake, beaver.
Contact the Hill County Commissioners:
Chair. Mark Peterson – firstname.lastname@example.org. Note he opposed the grant proposal.
Vice Chair. Diane McLean – email@example.com
Michael Wendland – firstname.lastname@example.org
Please thank the latter two for voting to support the grant proposal.
Contact Beaver Creek Park: 1-406-395-4565 email@example.com
Write a review for Beaver Creek Park on the search engine
Write a review on Beaver Creek Campground
Comment online to the Havre Daily News article:
Park Board declines grant for non-lethal beaver trapping alternatives
Comment on the Beaver Creek Park facebook page
Leave a recommendation or not on this Beaver Creek face book page
And let us know, too, if you have been a visitor to Beaver Creek Park.
Please send us a copy of any of your efforts!
Past Havre Daily News articles:
Is trapping the right way to manage beaver in Beaver Creek Park?
Park Board turns down offer for study on Beaver Creek Park
Letter to the Editor – Beavers in Beaver Creek Park – Enemy or ally?
Park board hears more on beavers in Beaver Creek Park
Disagreements arise about beaver trapping alternatives
Lands Council offers help on managing beavers in Beaver Creek Park
Thank you Friends of Trap Free Montana & Trap Free Montana Public Lands
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