DelBene introduces legislation to protect infrastructure from beaver damage, support non-lethal alternatives
Congresswoman Suzan DelBene (WA-01) introduced the Developing Alternative Mitigation Systems (DAMS) for Beavers Act, legislation that would help protect public infrastructure and private property from beaver damage while supporting non-lethal mitigation alternatives for these important animals and saving taxpayers money.
Beavers play a critical role in shaping the environment, providing several ecological benefits ranging from improved water storage and filtration to the creation of suitable habitats for endangered and vulnerable species, including salmon.
However, beaver activity can cause substantial private property damage and harm to public infrastructure such as roads, railroads, levees, and dams. As a result, the federal government and private trappers kill tens of thousands of beavers each year even though these lethal control methods are ineffective because the impacted areas are quickly recolonized by beavers searching for new environments. These methods are also unnecessary, since non-lethal mitigation methods, such as water flow control devices and mesh fencing, are often more effective at addressing impacts to infrastructure and property.
The DAMS for Beavers Act would provide $1 million annually through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for non-lethal beaver mitigation efforts. State and federal agencies, local governments, Tribes, landowners, and nonprofits would all be eligible to receive funding.
These investments have been proven to save taxpayers money:
- A study in Virginia compared the costs of repairing road damage caused by beavers at 14 sites before and after using flow devices. The state transportation department saved hundreds of thousands of dollars per year with the non-lethal method. Specifically, the ‘before’ costs were more than $300,000 per year, which included preventive road maintenance, damage repairs, and lethal removal of beavers. The cost of installing flow devices was less than $45,000 and maintenance costs were $277 per year.
- A 20-year project in Billerica, Massachusetts found that the average cost of beaver trapping and dam breaching was $409 per site per year, while the cost of installing and maintaining flow devices was $229 per site per year. By investing in flow devices at sites where they were feasible, Billerica saved its taxpayers $7,740 per year.
“Washington state is leading the charge in the expansion of non-lethal beaver mitigation methods, including beaver relocation,” said DelBene. “The DAMS for Beavers Act will invest in cost-effective, long-term solutions that will prevent beaver damage to infrastructure and private property across the nation while allowing beavers to continue their ecologically beneficial restoration work.”
”Beavers play a vital role in maintaining healthy ecosystems,” said Nancy Blaney, Director of Government Affairs at the Animal Welfare Institute. “The DAMS for Beavers Act will make an important investment in long-term, nonlethal solutions that will not only benefit beavers but also support communities, promote climate resilience, and protect infrastructure.”
“The DAMS for Beavers Act will allow organizations like Beavers Northwest to provide low-cost services to landowners to manage flooding, protect infrastructure, and coexist with beavers,” said Elyssa Kerr, Executive Director of Beavers Northwest. “With the assistance and incentives from this bill, stakeholders will be able to serve more landowners at lower cost resulting in more beavers on the landscape. More beavers mean more wetlands to support salmon, frogs, waterfowl, and all the other wildlife that can benefit from these special habitats. We look forward to being able to offer landowners this opportunity for cost share to address any beaver conflict concerns while retaining critical beaver-created habitats throughout Western Washington and beyond!”
“The DAMS for Beavers Act will protect our infrastructure, create jobs, as well as restore and protect our natural resources with proven, cost-effective methods,” said Adam Burnett, Executive Director of Beaver Institute. “Our nonprofit Beaver Institute has trained professionals across the U.S. ready to do this work. We strongly support this much-needed national legislation.”
This bill is cosponsored by Representatives Jamaal Bowman (NY-16), Andre Carson (IN-07), Jared Huffman (CA-02), Rick Larsen (WA-02), Andy Levin (MI-09), Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC-At-Large), and Rashida Tlaib (MI-13).
This legislation has been endorsed by over 80 organizations and Tribes, including the Animal Welfare Institute, The Beaver Institute, The Tulalip Tribes, Beavers Northwest, the Humane Society Legislative Fund, The Humane Society of the United States, the Methow Beaver Project, Washington Wildlife First, The Lands Council, National Wildlife Federation, Center for Biological Diversity, WildEarth Guardians, Natural Resources Defense Council, Blackfeet Nation Fish and Wildlife Department, The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes of the Flathead Reservation, Animal Legal Defense Fund, Born Free USA, FOUR PAWS USA, Project Coyote, Human-Beaver Coexistence Fund, Mid Klamath Watershed Council, Manitou Creek Watershed Alliance, Tualatin Riverkeepers, Natural Heritage Institute, Klamath Forest Alliance, Illinois Beaver Alliance, Salmonid Restoration Federation, and Oregon Wild.
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Photo by Wyoming photographer @SavannahRoseWildlife.