Idaho Falls

October 2018

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says. "You could definitely get them into places you would not get them otherwise." There are more roads today than there were 70 years ago. Most beaver transplants are done within a one-to-two-mile hike from the truck. The couple on this commute is going into Duck Creek. A small tributary near the Idaho-Montana border. Brook trout and cutthroat trout find Duck Creek, but they don't stay. The creek runs dry most summers and the few parts that puddle are so shallow they freeze in winter. "The beavers are creating ponds," Brower says. "They're making places for fish to go." Brower recruits volunteers to build beaver lodges and beaver dam analogs before transplants arrive. Beaver dam analogs (BDAs) are man-made clogs on creeks created with posts, mud and willow. Human hands can't make the structure last, but wild paws can. "After a month or even a few weeks on their own, they're going to fail," Brower says. "The water is going to eat through and it's gone. But if we put a beaver in that spot, they're going to look at that artificial beaver dam, hopefully, and want to repair it. Make it better than we do. We know we're not great at it. Beavers are king when it comes to dam building." Transplants, at an average cost of $250 per animal, are moved in pairs or family groups. A solo beaver won't stay put. For this habi- tat experiment to work, the beaver has to stay put. Well, as put as any busy animal will. A radio tag on tail tells Brower if they stay. Sending in a male and female together should help. The pair leaves the crates and transitions from dry ground to wet. They sink, surface and swim with purpose issuing a firm tail slap as they survey the pool's perimeter. "We really want them to set up shop and transform that habitat and make it a little better for everything," Brower says. "Beaver cre- ate habitat for not only fish but also for deer, elk, moose and bear. Pretty much everything needs water and places to drink. There's no doubt in my mind, this benefits everybody." Beavers hear water running and they run to stop it. IF IDAHOFALLSMAGAZINE.COM 31 KRIS MILLGATE PHOTOS

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