People walking, biking, boating or fishing at Lake Sacajawea recently may have noticed more trees missing bark, sporting bite marks or fallen into the water.
It’s unlikely folks will spot the culprits — beavers — but the Longview Parks and Recreation Department has received several reports about the damage, said Parks and Urban Forestry Manager Joanna Martin.
“There’s always wildlife at the lake. It’s not abnormal to have beavers,” she said.
Beavers begin to cause problems when they damage too many trees and when the trees could fall onto the heavily trafficked path, Martin said.
“If a tree is looking like it’s going to fall into the lake, we will leave that alone and let the beaver do that,” she said. “But if it’s going to fall into the park or onto the pathway, we will cut it down and remove it.”
The department has managed the beavers by trapping and relocating them outside the park, Martin said. In the last few months, the department hasn’t been able to trap beavers because the staff member with the license to do so did not want to renew it, she said.
Martin said she began looking into the potential beaver problem when the department started receiving reports about damaged trees in February.
While she was looking into contracting with a licensed company to relocate the rodents, another parks staff member “stepped up” and offered to get the trapping license, Martin said.
He since has completed the training and received the license. Now the city is waiting on a permit from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife before it can trap the beavers, Martin said.
The state department issues relocation permits when efforts to limit beaver damage are unsuccessful, when beavers pose a health and safety risk or other “irresolvable factors” exist, according to the state website.
People with permits can move beavers to an approved site unoccupied by other beavers, but there is no guarantee beavers will stay where they are released, according to Fish and Wildlife.
Martin said the city should receive its permit from the state soon. In the meantime, the staff has scouted the location of the beavers’ den. One of the only locations they’ve seen a beaver go in and out of was on the small, unmaintained island near 23rd Avenue, she said. So far, staff have only spotted one beaver, but there could be multiple active animals, Martin said.
Along with removing trees poised to fall the wrong way, staff also have protected trees from the beavers by putting up fencing around them, Martin said.
“We’re trying to do some stuff to make it less attractive,” she said. “Administratively, we’re trying to get permits and license in place so we’re doing this the right way.”