Not Funny

As you probably know, I live in Waltham. And Waltham has a street called “Beaver Street” and one called, “Trapelo Road“. Waltham is in eastern Massachusetts, which is densely populated, and was once mostly marshland. This marshland was created by beavers damming up rivers and streams. Beaver trappers would set up traps off the main road, and warn people about the traps saying there was a “trap below”, thus Trapelo Road. Beavers are also featured on the MIT class ring, as the animal that engineers. So beavers have certainly played a role in the history of the area.

Well, a few years ago, animal rights activists conspired to get more of their own onto the state fish and game board, whatever it’s called. They did this by means of a referendum question. The question did two things: 1) removed any requirements that one had to be a hunter to serve on the board (there were a certain number of board seats reserved for hunters) and 2) to ban “cruel traps” in Massachusetts. Ads run by the animal rightists featured sob stories of pet owners with three legged dogs and the like. Hunters were caught unawares, and ran virtually no ads to compete or to explain what the animal rightists were really after.

So the measure passed.

It should be no surprise that the beaver population has exploded in Massachusetts in recent years. The first damage this wrought was property damage. While it’s unclear to me what happens under the wetlands act when beavers dam up a river and it floods your house, but it can’t be good. And given that so many of us (myself included) live on land that was drained long ago to support human habitation, this is not a small problem. It’s also not a small problem for commercial developers. For example, you may not be aware that there’s a small stream that runs alongside the Burlington Mall. Beavers now inhabit that stream, and are proceeding to dam it. Nothing can be done, and in a few years, that whole parking lot for the mall will be flooded, if not the mall itself. For those not familiar with the Boston area, the Burlington Mall is one of the largest in Metro-Boston.

And if all the property damage caused by the bill weren’t enough to convince you that this is no laughing matter, there’s this:

NewsCenter 5’s Liz Brunner reported Thursday that researchers are making an interesting connection between mosquitoes and beavers.

“(Beavers) dam up water. They flood septic systems and wells, and it can cause major conflict with people,” wildlife biologist Chrissie Henner said.

Researchers want to find out if beavers are contributing to another problem — mosquitoes. Officials are monitoring 14 beaver lodges around the state. […]

Mosquitoes prefer warm, shallow water, like the kind beavers create when they build. Januszewski is looking for any connection between temperature and increased mosquito breeding.

That’s right, West Nile Virus. What’s next, malaria? People forget that one of the major ways that we in the West removed the scourge of malaria from our midst was to eliminate still bodies of water, by means of creating enclosed sewage systems, and by trapping the goddamned beavers. People so easily forget. Malaria was a real problem even around here up until the early 20th century.

As I said, this situation is very not funny.

Can we please go back to trapping the beavers? Really, it’d be cheaper to buy prosthetics for injured pets, than to sustain the property and health damage that this silly prohibition brings.


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