At the June 14, 2023 CA Fish and Game Commission meeting, the CA Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) reported to the commissioners that they have enacted a new beaver depredation policy effective June 5th. You might be wondering what is “depredation”? This is a term wildlife agencies use to describe the damage or loss wildlife can cause to landowners (i.e. a beaver cuts down your favorite tree or a mountain lion kills your livestock). CDFW has depredation policies that spell out what landowners can do in response to this damage and in the case of beaver, landowners can apply for a “depredation permit” to kill the animals that caused the damage.
Up until now, landowners could apply for a depredation permit to kill a beaver and were not required to try coexistence first. With this new policy, CDFW will promote the use of various non-lethal damage deterrence techniques to resolve beaver conflicts where feasible thus ensuring that coexistence measures are attempted before landowners are issued a permit to kill the beaver. This policy also supports CDFW in tracking whether or not endangered species might be harmed if beaver are killed.
Like recent mountain lion and bear depredation policies, this new beaver policy is part of a growing trend of CDFW updating its policies to reflect the ecological value of our wildlife, including those that might cause damage, while developing innovative approaches to support landowners and wildlife alike. OAEC supports this trend and applauds CDFW for its efforts here.
This innovative beaver policy was developed in response to the regulation change petition OAEC, Environmental Protection Information Center and Center for Biological Diversity filed in 2019. On behalf of the petitioners, OAEC agreed to hold the petition in abeyance for a year while the new policy is trialed across the state. We and our partners plan to continue collaborating with CDFW throughout and reassess our petition position after this first year of policy implementation.
OAEC’s Brock Dolman was present at the meeting and gave testimony praising the new Beaver Restoration Program, the depredation policy and the changing tide when it comes to promoting beaver in the state. Commission President Eric Sklar shared,
“Brock, I want to thank you for your leadership on this. I remember our first conversation about eight years ago when I first got on the commission. It’s folks like you who have passion and are tireless and resilient on these issues that make things like this happen. So thank you for your efforts.”—Eric Sklar, President of the California Fish & Game commission
We at the OAEC WATER Institute are honored to receive this recognition and are grateful that our hard work is paying off. It’s deeply gratifying to see these new measures being adopted at the state level, and we couldn’t be more excited as state leaders join us in recognizing the benefits of beaver to habitat restoration. We look forward to working with the Department and other partners across the state to develop policies and practices that further uplift this keystone species.