A group against a beaver cull planned by the City of Fargo claims the Red River will soon earn its name.
The Beaverbackers, a group based on Change.org, is petitioning the Fargo Park District for its trapping program introduced to crack down on the river rodents damaging mature trees in Lemke and Trefoil parks.
As of Friday, the petition had over 26,000 supporters.
“The beavers of Fargo attract tourists and are key to the ecosystem,” Megan Bartholomay-Berreth, the petition’s writer, said in the online petition. “They do not deserve to be killed for doing what is in their nature. Join us in calling for the Fargo Park District to permanently halt the killing of the beavers.”
Partnering the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Fargo Park District’s beaver cull will potentially involve the use of body-gripping traps, which catch and kill beavers passing through the device. Another device captures the beaver underwater and holds it there until the rodent drowns.
“Neither option is humane,” Bartholomay-Berreth said in her petition.
When interviewed by The Forum, she said she is not sure of the best solution to the beaver problem but said she thinks “it’s worth investigating a little bit more.”
Malcolm Butler, a professor of biological science, said the city’s response to the beavers is “appropriate and necessary.”
“I’ve been taken aback by the recent damage that beavers have done,” he said.
An aquatic ecologist for 34 years, Butler added the arguments against the cull do not have ecological and biological bases, and the proposed alternative to trap and relocate beavers would be “expensive and unsuccessful.”
Butler said the “functionally important trees” along the Red River are “very beautiful in kind of a grotesque way. They’re not botanical garden specimen trees, but they’re hardy. They’re survivors.”
Beavers have gnawed deep into the bark of trees, harming the tissue that conducts circulation of nutrients, Butler said.
He also added a personal note: A bite from a beaver in March 2014 led to him receiving rabies shots.
“A beaver came out of the river along the area where I live and attacked my dog, and I tried to separate my dog from the beaver,” Butler said. “We both got bit. We both got rabies shots.
“I like seeing beavers. They’re part of the ecosystem, but we have altered our ecosystem by removal of top predators … Beavers are part of the system and so are the trees, and it’s up to us to make sure they stay at a reasonable balance.”