Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, November 2, 2017

Contact:  Collette Adkins, Center for Biological Diversity, (651) 955-3821,
Nina Bell, Northwest Environmental Advocates, (503) 295-0490,
Andrew Hawley, Western Environmental Law Center, (206) 487-7250,

Lawsuit Aims to Protect Salmon Harmed by Government Beaver-killing in Oregon

Legal Action Challenges Pervasive Environmental Destruction by Federal 'Wildlife Services' Program

PORTLAND, Ore.— Two environmental organizations today filed a formal notice of intent to sue a federal program that kills hundreds of beavers a year in Oregon. The lawsuit aims to hold the program, Wildlife Services, accountable for killing beavers because the animals are essential to protecting threatened and endangered fish like salmon and steelhead.

Wildlife Services, a part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, kills the beavers with traps, snares and firearms. Beavers are Oregon’s official state animal.

“The science shows that Wildlife Services’ killing of these incredible little animals is ecologically destructive and cruel,” said Collette Adkins, a Center attorney and biologist. “Beavers are nature’s engineers, building dams and creating ponds that help endangered fish and frogs. I hope this lawsuit gets the feds to stop trapping beavers in places where their ponds benefit endangered wildlife.”

Numerous studies show that beavers benefit endangered salmon and steelhead by creating ponds that provide fish with natural cover and food. Despite these well-established ecological benefits, Wildlife Services killed more than 400 beavers in Oregon in 2016. The extermination agency even killed beavers in counties where endangered aquatic wildlife rely on beaver ponds for survival.

“Killing beavers in Oregon just one year after federal fish experts announced that beavers are essential to providing high-quality habitat for salmon is just perverse,” said Nina Bell, executive director of Northwest Environmental Advocates. “If this state is committed to saving salmon, we have to be equally committed to preserving the remaining fraction of beavers that historically lived in Oregon.”

Wildlife Services has never analyzed how its killing of beavers impacts Oregon’s threatened and endangered species, as required by the Endangered Species Act.

“It’s time to end the open season on Wildlife Services’ killing Oregon’s state animal — the beaver," said Andrew Hawley with the Western Environmental Law Center. “This ‘wild west’ approach to animal management doesn’t pass muster when you’re likely harming endangered species. We’ll hold Wildlife Services accountable to the law, whether they like it or not.”

Today’s notice letter starts a 60-day clock until the groups can file their challenge in federal court to compel Wildlife Services to comply with the Endangered Species Act.

The conservation groups are represented by Andrew Hawley of the Western Environmental Law Center and Collette Adkins of the Center for Biological Diversity.


Photo by Larry Palmer, USFWS. Images are available for media use.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.5 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

The Western Environmental Law Center uses the power of the law to safeguard the wildlife, wildlands, and communities of the American West. As a public interest law firm, WELC does not charge clients and partners for services, but relies instead on charitable gifts from individuals, families, and foundations to accomplish our mission.

Northwest Environmental Advocates (“NWEA”), founded in Oregon in 1969, works through advocacy and education to protect and restore water quality, wetlands, and wildlife habitat in the Northwest and nationally.

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