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Current Issues and Projects Regarding Beaver in Montana Steve Carpenedo Mt DEQ – Wetland Program.

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Presentation on theme: "Current Issues and Projects Regarding Beaver in Montana Steve Carpenedo Mt DEQ – Wetland Program."— Presentation transcript:

1 Current Issues and Projects Regarding Beaver in Montana Steve Carpenedo Mt DEQ – Wetland Program

2 Presentation Outline Brief history of beaver management in Montana. Impact beaver have on landscape patterns, riparian habitat, and streams. And some changes as a result of reduced beaver populations? What projects are currently being undertaken in Montana to address these changes? My current work developing a beaver habitat suitability model. Points to ponder during today’s Wetland Council Meeting.

3 Unlimited trapping with no tagging or limits Unlimited trapping allowed with a limit per person Trapping quota per person based on # of trappers 1953 Listed as a furbearer but protected Beavers became a protected species Montana’s 1 st Territorial Game Law “End” of main beaver trapping era 1840’s 1 st Fur Trapping Fort Built 1 st fur trappers arrive in Montana Management of Beaver in Montana Pre-Settlement 1770’s 60 – 400 Million Individuals 1807 1880’s 1993 19001941 1970’s Present

4 Management of Beaver in Montana What is the current population and distribution? Recent trends show a decreases in numbers of beaver trapped state wide. Majority of trapping is for nuisance beaver. FWP on web does provide information on “Living with beaver”.

5 Influence of Beaver on the landscape What has been the effect of the historic loss of dam building beaver on aquatic resources? – Free flowing streams – Sediment Retention – Modifying nutrient cycling and decomposition of organics – Change in aquatic invertebrates – Fish and Wildlife Populations – Stream resiliency – Influencing fire regimes

6 Regaining our lost ecosystem functions Current known projects – Ruby River Beaver Augmentation – Relocating nuisance beavers from Virginia City. – TU’s Riparian Restoration using Relocated Nuisance Beaver in Western Montana. – Water management alternatives in the Big Hole Watershed. – WCS and DEQ development of Habitat Suitability model for identifying beaver relocation sites.

7 Beaver Habitat Suitability Model Overall purpose Model Development – Scaling Variables – Variable Examples Stream Gradient Herbaceous Emergent Vegetation Average Valley Width Stream Gradient Stream Flow Permanence Herbaceous Emergent Wetlands Submerged Aquatic Vegetation Woody Vegetation Riparian Areas Average Valley Width Percent Canopy Cover of Trees Percent Canopy Cover of Shrubs Average Height of Shrub Canopy Species Composition of Woody Vegetation

8 Beaver Habitat Suitability Model Final Steps – Where are there currently active beaver in the Big Hole Watershed? – Determine the influence each variable has on the model

9 Questions to ponder What is the proper approach to identifying suitable habitat? Is there anecdotal evidence from your work that will help guide future projects? What about using beaver as a water storage alternative? For improving water quality? Landowner perception of beaver and educating them as to the benefits. What protocols do we need to follow to ensure success of relocation projects.

10 Questions to ponder Is the current management structure of beaver as a furbearer acceptable to ensure they remain on the landscape and continue to provide valuable functions? What are some other strategies that may be incorporated to ensure that beaver expand into new locations? Are small scale relocations feasible for accomplish habitat restoration? How can we get an accurate picture of the current population status and distribution of beaver in the state? What about beavers and their interaction with invasive/non-native species?


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