The people of Oregon love their coastline, and a one-of-a-kind scientific investigation has confirmed that the Oregon state mammal is no exception.
Thanks to a grant from the Oregon Zoo Foundation, conservationists from The Wetlands Conservancy have confirmed that beavers use the intertidal wetlands of the central Oregon coast, expanding scientific understanding of where they live. the “engineers of nature”.
The investigation, which explored estuaries from Yaquina Bay to the Salmon River, found dams and lodges in areas where scientists had not previously confirmed the presence of beavers.
“We always thought that too much salt water would kill a beaver, but then we started to see evidence in Washington that they lived on the coast and actually built their dams in areas influenced by the tides,” Katie said. Ryan, Executive Director of The Wetlands. Protection. “It made us wonder what is going on here in Oregon.”
Famous for their ability to transform landscapes, beavers have recently been recognized for reducing the impacts of forest fires and drought by creating wetlands through their determination to build dams. This new understanding – combined with the results of the Oregon survey – has implications for the state’s coastal communities, according to Ryan.
“A lot of the intertidal wetlands on the coast have been drained for agriculture, and for them to function as an ecosystem, they need water,” she said. “Beavers help bring water back to these areas, creating critical habitat for juvenile and adult salmon, and many other species. “
Ryan plans to expand the pilot program, studying the southern Oregon coast to determine whether beavers use estuaries year-round or change the salinity of the wetlands in which they live. She hopes the data will inform land management decisions and contribute to human-beaver coexistence. .
“Beavers are one of the most influential species on the landscape,” said Amy Cutting, who oversees the North America area of the zoo. “They are extremely important to the health of our ecosystems, and healthy estuaries provide protection against storms. “
Although Oregon is known for its beaver population, this hasn’t always been the case. In the 19th century, American beavers were hunted and trapped for their fur; by 1900, they had virtually disappeared from many of their original habitats. Thanks to recovery programs and hunting regulations, beavers have made a comeback and are now listed as Least Concern by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.
The Wetlands Conservancy’s Coastal Beaver Survey is one of four projects made possible by a $ 40,000 grant from the Oregon Zoo Foundation to the Oregon Conservation and Recreation Fund. The foundation’s support enhances and expands the zoo’s efforts in conservation, education and animal welfare. Members, donors and partner companies and foundations help the zoo make a difference in the region and the world. To donate or learn more about the foundation, email [email protected] or visit oregonzoo.org/donate.