The right to kill beavers and muskrats that devour roads

By: - June 22, 2021 4:07 pm
Muskrat swimming in the water

Muskrat photo by hikingqueen via Flickr CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Rep. James Edming, who goes by the moniker “Jimmy Boy,” admits that the state law that forbids shooting a firearm within 50 feet of a road is a good idea. But an exception must be made, says the Republican from Glen Flora in northern Wisconsin, for allowing Wisconsinites to take aim at beavers and muskrats. The idea came from one of his constituents in Atlanta in Rusk County, Wisconsin.

His bill would allow people to shoot to kill beavers and muskrats if they are damaging a highway. 

Muskrat up close showing teeth
Muskrat photo by PhotoJeff via Flickr CC BY-NC 2.0

“They have a problem up in Atlanta where there’s just tons of beavers have moved in and they’re damming up the road. They’re damming up everything — anything they can dam, I think, they dam up. No pun intended.” said Edming on the Assembly floor Tuesday as his fellow Republicans seated around him worked to contain their laughter and hide their grins. “It’s tough on the roads that cost a lot of money to build these roads and keep them in shape.”

Beaver standing on a log
Beaver photo by Bryn Davies CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Then came a surprise lesson on the habits of muskrats. According to Edming they “move into an area and they burrow under a road and will cause the road to cave in.”

These are feisty animals, he argued.

“You can’t really sneak up on them because they’re pretty smart,” Edming added. “If you’ve ever had an encounter with a muskrat, they can jump five, six feet straight up in the air. They are very vicious animals. If you’ve ever seen a beaver in a trap, they’ll snap to bite the wires right off the trap, so they are nothing to fool around with.”

The Wisconsin Towns Association, Wisconsin Counties Association and the Safari Club registered in favor of the bill. The Sierra Club registered against the bill, saying in written testimony that beavers should be protected: “Beavers serve as ecosystem engineers and create important wetlands that provide ‘keystone’ wildlife habitats and can provide significant water quality benefits to watersheds in Wisconsin. This bill could lead to a number of damaging kills on a species that offers a lot of benefits to Wisconsinites and our ecosystems.”

Rep. James “Jimmy Boy” Edming

There was no registration from beavers or muskrats giving their opinions on the bills. The Assembly passed Edming’s bill on a unanimous voice vote, and it is now in the Senate awaiting action. 


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Melanie Conklin
Melanie Conklin

Melanie Conklin is proud to be a native of the state of Wisconsin, which gave humankind the typewriter, progressivism and deep-fried cheese curds. Her several decades in journalism include political beats and columns at Isthmus newspaper, the Wisconsin State Journal and other publications. When not an ink-stained wretch, she served time inside state, local and federal government in communications. She is excited to be back at the craft of journalism as Deputy Editor of the Wisconsin Examiner. It’s what she’s loved ever since getting her master’s degree in journalism from the UW-Madison. Her family includes one husband, two kids, four dogs and five (or more) chinchillas.