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Outdated Beaver Management Policies
To realize the water quality and flood mitigation benefits that beavers can provide us, they need to be protected from fur-trapping and for nuisance trapping on watersheds undergoing process-based restoration. Currently in Illinois, beaver trapping is allowed from November 10 through the next following March 31. There is currently no daily or possession limit for beavers. Nuisance beavers can be trapped and killed year-round by companies in possession of nuisance wildlife removal permits.
The IDNR's current Trapping of Furbearers Policy Statement:
The Department recognizes that regulated trapping is a versatile, safe, effective and ecologically sound means of capturing individual animals without impairing the survival of furbearer populations or damaging the environment. Trapping provides income, recreation and an outdoor lifestyle for many citizens through use of a renewable natural resource and provides an effective means of harvesting, managing and/or studying furbearers; controlling damage caused by furbearers; and at times, reduces the spread of harmful disease. The Department also recognizes that trapping concerns some segments of the public that oppose trapping or use of specific trapping devices. The department supports regulated trapping and efforts to address societal concerns through appropriate education, research, enforcement and regulatory programs. Such programs shall be designed to increase awareness and acceptance of trapping by seeking to enhance animal welfare while maintaining management capabilities and other benefits associated with this activity.
The IDNR's current beaver control policies do not take into account the ecological importance of beavers or their potential role in restoring the health of our state's rivers. In 2015, 1,646 beavers were handled by individuals with Nuisance Wildlife Control Permits. Of those, 84 were relocated, and the rest were killed. In 2018, 1,361 beavers were handled by individuals with Nuisance Wildlife Control Permits. Of those, 41 were relocated, released on site or surrendered to wildlife rehabilitators.
In the 2019-2020 trapping season, 12,177 beaver pelts were sold.
Illinois should develop a forward-thinking beaver management plan that reflects the ecological importance of beavers, the modern tools for resolving human-beaver conflicts, and the need to limit trapping on watersheds undergoing process-based restoration--as the beavers would be serving as free, experienced, on-site structural engineers.
In addition, beaver-related restoration often involves relocating beavers to degraded waterways. Right now, the State of Illinois does not make it easy to relocate beavers. Other states and Native American tribes run successful relocation programs, but the IDNR does not encourage relocation and it is difficult to find appropriate habitats for relocation that will accept beavers. That needs to change. Illinois should use best practices developed by other states to develop its own relocation program.
Current Illinois Beaver Management Policies
Other City and State Beaver Management Policies
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