More than 30 years ago, all of Red Butte Canyon’s beavers were killed. Some Utah professors say now is the time to bring them back.
By Brian Maffly | Salt Lake Tribune
Back in 1982, Red Butte Canyon’s 78 beavers were killed under the pretext that the dam-building rodents were a vector for giardia, a dreaded parasite responsible for gastrointestinal stress around the world.
At the time, the U.S. Army relied on a reservoir on Red Butte Creek for drinking water at Fort Douglas, just east of the University of Utah campus.
Jim Ehleringer, a U. biology professor, recalls arguing with the fort’s new commander that beavers belonged there and other mammals could also carry giardia. He felt eradicating them would not accomplish much other than degrading the ecology of the canyon, which had been a research natural area administered by the U.S. Forest Service for more than a decade.