POCATELLO, Idaho (KIFI/KIDK) - Beaver are not considered an endangered species, but clusters of the animal can certainly die out.
Watershed Guardians, a local conservation group, fears that may be happening in the Mink Creek area.
Since 2013, Watershed Guardians and Idaho Fish and Game have separately been tracking the beaver activity in the area, and both have noticed a drop in activity.
“In some places, beaver are thriving, other places we’re not seeing beaver where we used to see beaver. In the case of the Mink Creek drainage, we are detecting what could be a possible modest decline in beaver activity,” said regional communications director for Fish and Game, Jennifer Jackson.
Watershed Guardians found that beaver activity has dropped from 40 clusters to less than 10 in recent years.
Those numbers may not show the whole picture, Jackson said.
“It’s hard to say what that really means in number of beavers, and it’s also hard say if that’s implying if we’re having a decline or if they’re just at the bottom of a cycle in their population,” Jackson said.
There could be a number of reasons for low activity levels, but Fish and Game doesn't believe trapping is causing the drop.
Fish and Game has tight restrictions for beaver trapping in the Mink Creek area. Depending on how beavers are doing in a certain spot, trapping can have a lot of stipulations.
“There’s one individual that’s allowed in the Mink Creek area for the entire year, and that particular individual can only take up to five beaver,” Jackson said.
In the east and west fork drainages of Mink Creek, there's no trapping allowed at all.
“We’re not seeing beaver activity there, so it just makes sense to be very conservative with our beaver trapping,” Jackson said.
When asked if poaching could be a possible cause for activity decline, Jackson said there isn't reason to believe that's happening. Trapping is very time consuming, and pelts are in low-demand.
“No one’s going to risk going into an area illegally when beaver right now are $12,” said the president of Idaho Trappers Association, Rusty Kramer.
While beaver activity seems low in the area, that could change in the coming years. Both Watershed Guardians and Fish and Game plan to keep tracking the area to see if further steps need to be taken to ensure the health of the population.
“However, we want to see sustainable, viable, healthy populations of beaver on the landscape because of the important role that they play in their day-to-day lives,” Jackson said.