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Wanted: Beaver Trappers To Protect LA Water Supply

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(Getty Images)

(Getty Images)

LOS ANGELES (CBS) — Los Angeles is looking for a few good beaver trappers.

The cash-strapped city has eliminated thousands of workers through early retirement and layoffs, but there’s still a need for beaver trappers to work for the nation’s second largest municipality.

Officials will open bids Tuesday for a new one-year contract for beaver trappers. But the beaver-trapping contractor who is chosen for a one-year assignment that has been for a bit more than $1,000 a month won’t be working near City Hall or around a Hollywood movie premiere.

Beaver trappers contracted by the city of Los Angeles will instead be working in Central California’s Owens Valley, protecting Department of Water and Power equipment and operations that bring water to Los Angeles.

“The beavers are very destructive and can rapidly take down many trees in environmentally sensitive areas if they’re not controlled,” DWP Spokesman Joe Ramallo told reporters.

“We have many environmental mandates and responsibilities in the Owens Valley to ensure water flow on the waterways.”

He said he’s not certain if the winning contractor will use one or more trappers or how often traps would be checked. It’s unknown exactly how much the winning bidder will receive for trapping the beavers, although Ramallo said the city has been spending a bit more than $1,000 a month for such services.

Bidders state in their sealed proposals what they are willing to work for and city officials won’t know who has the lowest bid until the proposals are opened Tuesday.

Ramallo said the department has long employed beaver trappers to keep the semi-aquatic rodents with webbed feet and broad tails from building dams in the Los Angeles Aqueduct and in the Owens River.

Those dams can block waterways and cause flooding in the surrounding areas, including roadways. They also create breeding grounds for mosquitoes and other pests, he said.

DWP has worked with beaver trappers for more than a decade. The current beaver-trapping contract is scheduled to expire in March, Ramallo said.

According to the document asking for bids issued recently by the DWP, the contractor would have to set and monitor traps, then remove the beaver bodies and dump the remains in an approved disposal site in accordance with California Department of Fish and Game regulations.

Ramallo said allowing the captured beavers to live out their lives away from the DWP sites would not work.

“Beavers cannot be relocated, as this would merely move a problem from one waterway to another,” Ramallo said, noting the rodents are very “prolific.” He cited studies that show there can be as many as 60 beavers per mile along some rivers.

DWP owns and manages about 312,00 acres of land in the Owens Valley, an area that is comparable in size to the city of Los Angeles. Most of the area is left in a natural, wild state, and its rivers and streams are a significant source of water for the city, according to the DWP.

(©2010 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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