For a brief moment this spring, various news outlets focused on a beaver and his
appetite for Cherry Blossoms around Washington DC. He managed to chop down a few
trees around some famous monuments and parks. Less publicized was the environmental
controversy stirred up when they removed the critter and his family from his natural
habitat and home.
Below is a comment and an actual letter from Congresswoman Helen Chenoweth (R)
written to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. She is requesting protection of the
"Tidal Basin Beaver" and the "experimental" introduction of more
beavers into the tidal basin. She justifies her request by referencing the same
conservation laws and theories used to introduce Grizzly bears and wolves into areas where
she represents and people live.
The sender of the letter below wishes to remain anonymous.
CHENOWETH PETITIONS FISH & WILDLIFE SERVICE:
"PROTECT THE TIDAL BASIN BEAVER!"
April 15, 1999
Jamie Rappaport Clark, Director
Fish & Wildlife Service
Department of Interior
Washington, DC 20240
Dear Director Clark,
Pursuant to Section 4(b) of the Endangered Species Act of 1973,
16 U.S.C. 1531 et. seq., I hereby petition the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to provide
protection for the distinct population segment of beaver recently found living near the
Tidal Basin in Washington, D.C., and that you immediately designate habitat critical to
its well being and survival. I ask for your findings within 90 days (ESA
As you are aware, a family of Tidal Basin Beaver was recently
removed by the National Park Service from its natural habitat at the Tidal Basin without
proper consideration and public comment. Further, as you testified on April 14,
1999, to the House Resources Committee, the National Park Service did not consult the U.S.
Fish & Wildlife Service. This is unfortunate because I would hope that you would
on the same treatment for the beaver as you have in Idaho for the Gray Wolf and Grizzly
In Idaho and along the Selway Bitterroot Range, the Fish &
Wildlife Service, over the objections of the Idaho Governor and Legislature, all affected
counties and municipalities, and its Congressional delegation, has insisted on introducing
experimental populations of Gray Wolves and Grizzly Bears. Although the Gray Wolf is
thriving so well in Minnesota that de-listing is likely and the Grizzly Bear is ubiquitous
Montana, Canada and Alaska, the Fish & Wildlife Service claims that it is bound by law
to introduce the wolf and grizzly into their natural habitat. (Indeed, the Tidal
Basin Beaver is proof that a species when left to its own devices will find its natural
habitat through instinctive means, rather than through the artificial, 10(j) Experimental
Population introduction.) I ask you to evaluate the Tidal Basin Beaver under the
same philosophy as you did the wolf and grizzly.
The family of beaver found thriving on the Tidal Basin proves
without question that the Tidal Basin is natural habitat for this distinct population
segment. Although the family may have damaged some Japanese Cherry Blossom Trees,
this is no different than the economic disruption caused by Gray Wolf's property
destruction (livestock predation) happening in Idaho.
Since it is possible that the National Park Service has removed
all Tidal Basin Beaver from its natural habitat, I ask you to begin preparation for the
introduction of an experimental population pursuant to ESA 10(j). Similar to your
philosophy in the West, I'm sure that you'll agree that an experimental population will
further the conservation of
the Tidal Basin Beaver.
I ask for your prompt, thorough and fair assessment of the Tidal
Basin Beaver and its habitat.
Member of Congress
Another comment on the subject:
"Out west, it's the policy of the Federal agencies to remove the people, rather
than the animals, when there is a conflict between people and wildlife...If these rugged
pioneering beaver can make it in the polluted and murky conditions of the Potomac and the
Tidal Basin, then by goodness, they deserve to be free!," Helen