Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, May 30, 2019


Collette Adkins, (651) 955-3821,

Lawsuit Launched to Protect Endangered California Salmon Harmed by Federal Beaver-killing

Legal Action Challenges Shooting, Trapping by 'Wildlife Services' Program

SACRAMENTO, Calif.— The Center for Biological Diversity today launched a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services program for killing California beavers and harming native salmon, southwestern willow flycatchers and other endangered wildlife that uses habitats created by beavers.

In California last year, Wildlife Services killed nearly 1,000 beavers using firearms, traps and snares.

“California’s beavers need to be protected, not persecuted,” said Collette Adkins, a Center attorney and biologist. “Beavers are nature’s engineers, building dams and ponds that help endangered fish and frogs. Our federal government needs to stop shooting and trapping native beavers whose ponds are safe havens for other wildlife.”

Last year, in response to a similar litigation threat, Wildlife Services agreed to stop killing beavers, river otter, muskrat and mink in Oregon.

Numerous studies show beavers benefit endangered salmon and steelhead by building ponds with natural cover and food for the fish. Endangered frogs and birds, including Oregon spotted frogs and southwestern willow flycatchers, rely on wetland habitats formed by beaver dams.

But Wildlife Services kills beavers without considering the impacts to other animals that rely on their dams and ponds to survive.

For example, over a 10-year period in Sacramento County, Wildlife Services killed more than 1,000 beavers, even though federally protected Chinook salmon and steelhead live there and use habitats created by beavers.

“Not only are beavers ecologically important, they’re smart, hardworking and adorable,” said Adkins. “My heart breaks for the thousands of beavers needlessly shot and trapped by Wildlife Services.”

Wildlife Services has never analyzed how its killing of beavers affects California’s endangered wildlife, even though the Endangered Species Act requires such study.

Today’s notice letter starts a 60-day clock until the Center can file its lawsuit to compel Wildlife Services to comply with the Endangered Species Act.

Beaver 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 1.4 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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