Alan R.P. Journet Ph.D.
7113 Griffin Lane
March 18th 2023
Representative Marsh and members of the House Committee on Climate, Energy and Environment:
I am a member of the Applegate Partnership and Watershed Council Board, and a Cofacilitator of Southern Oregon Climate Action Now. However, I write today in neither capacity, but simply as myself. As most of you probably know, I generally offer testimony on bills relating to the climate crisis. Today I write in reference to a bill that has less climate relevance than most on which I comment except that the beaver is an incredibly valuable animal in terms of its role in water management and conservation – critical adaptation considerations as climate change increases drought risk.
In 2010, I retired after 30 plus years teaching biology, mostly at Southeast Missouri State University. During those years, I taught ecology, conservation biology, environmental science and process of science. Since retiring and relocating to Oregon, I have been consistently amused by the way Oregon deals with the state animal – the Beaver. It makes perfect sense to me for Castor canadensis to be defined as a fur-bearing mammal. However, it has never made any sense to me that in Oregon the term ‘predator’ should have a very different meaning than it has throughout the rest of the world – and especially the world of biology. I have searched high and low for anywhere outside Oregon statute that ‘predator’ could possibly be used to describe beaver. Every definition that I have seen is consistent with my understanding: the term refers to an animal that eats other animals. On the other hand, the beaver diet comprises tubers, shoots, buds, foliage, roots, stems, barks, twigs and other plant substances.
For this reason, I applaud HB3464 which correctly removes the beaver from the miscategorized list of predators.
However, just as the beaver is not a predator, neither can the term predator be used accurately to describe ‘birds that are or may be destructive to agricultural crops.’ My sense of what the term ‘crop’ means confines this to plants. As I search for a definition that includes animals, I do not find one. Additionally, including rodents in the list of predators also requires a huge suspension of disbelief because rodents are almost universally herbivorous. The one exception to that principle of which I am aware is the Grasshopper mouse, which, indeed – and as its name implies – eats grasshoppers. This wee beastie, therefore, is a genuine predator.
If the effort that stimulated HB3464 is to clean up Oregon statutes so the term predator is used correctly, then I recommend HB3464 be amended to complete the clean up as identified above. If, however, the purpose is simply to save our state animal from the ignominy of being mischaracterized in statute, then I can happily applaud and support the effort.
Thank you all for your service and efforts in the legislature.
Alan Journet Ph.D.
7113 Griffin Lane
Jacksonville OR 97530-9342
Submitter: Christine Haynie
On Behalf Of: Self
Committee: House Committee On Climate, Energy, and Environment
Thank you Pam Marsh, and House Committee on Climate, Energy, and Environment for your work on HB3464. I support this bill and am passionate about preserving wildlife with whom we share this planet. I may not have at my fingertips all the statistics and scientific studies that affirm the usefulness of beavers as protectors and enhancers of healthy ecosystems. But I do know that calling these animals predators is so ludicrous and wrong given what they actually do as they try to live their beaver lives. We simply cannot continue to eradicate wildlife because they become a nuisance. This does not mean that I do not empathize with farmers whose crops are sometimes damaged or destroyed due to the busy beavers building homes and by so doing provide so many benefits to the environment, including species such as salmon, a species that continues to struggle to maintain its populations. HB 3464 provides many solutions to this conflict. By removing the horrible moniker of predator, providing tools for farmers to employ non lethal means that will allow successful coexistence, and put beaver management under one agency that will set stringent rules about “lethal takes”, Oregon will be taking productive steps towards ensuring that beavers continue to thrive and provide good things for our environment and joy to our hearts.
Alan R.P. Journet Ph.D.
Southern Oregon Climate Action Now
May 8th 2023
Chair Golden and members of the Senate Committee on Natural Resources:
I write as cofacilitator of Southern Oregon Climate Action Now (SOCAN), an organization of over 2,000 rural Southern Oregonians who are concerned about the climate crisis and urge statewide action to address it. The mission of SOCAN is to promote awareness and understanding of the science of global warming and its climate chaos consequences and, within the framework of social justice, stimulate individual and collective action to address it. Since rural Oregonians occupy the frontlines in experiencing the impact of the drought, shrinking snowpack, wildfires and extreme weather that the climate crisis imposes, we are strongly committed to statewide action that promotes both mitigation of and adaptation to the climate crisis.
I previously testified individually before the House Committee on Climate, Energy and Environment on HB3464. On this occasion, in recognition of the profound value of the beaver in providing adaptive resolution to the problem of water shortage and drought that the climate consequences of global warming are imposing across the state, I choose to testify here both as a biologist with many decades of university teaching and research in ecology, and on behalf of SOCAN. As I argued previously, and regrettably reiterate today, as written ORS 610.002 is biological nonsense. It states:
610.002 “Predatory animals” defined. As used in this chapter, “predatory animal” or “predatory animals” includes feral swine as defined by State Department of Agriculture rule, coyotes, rabbits, rodents and birds that are or may be destructive to agricultural crops, products and activities, but excluding game birds and other birds determined by the State Fish and Wildlife Commission to be in need of protection.
The problem with this statute is that it is simply wrong. Legislatures assuredly have the authority to write laws and statutes that they determine best serve the people of the state, but the integrity of legislators should preclude them from approving statements or establishing definitions that are patently false.
The term predation is well established in the biological arena as follows: “Predation is the ecological process by which energy is transferred from living animal to living animal based on the behavior of a predator that captures and kills a prey before eating it,” (Minelli 2008) and :” “Predation, the killing and eating of one animal by another…” (Texas, undated), and “An animal that hunts, kills, and eats other animals is called a predator. Examples of predators include tigers, snakes, and hawks. Herbivory, on the other hand, refers to animals that eat plant matter. Deer, mice, and most song birds are examples.” (Libretexts, undated). Despite the language of ORS 610.002, the basic principle is that animals that eat plants are herbivores while those that eat animals are carnivores/predators.
In addition to the ridiculous definition of beavers as predators, the defining or rodents and birds that eat, or may eat, crops as predators is equally wrong. As I testified previously, beavers are vegetarians, while the only rodent that is a predator is the grasshopper mouse, so called not because it looks like a grasshopper but because it eats grasshoppers.
It is understandable that Oregonians who have problems because animals are eating their crops or causing other damage may wish to control those animals, but defining those animals as predators is not the appropriate route. Like almost all rodents, beavers are herbivores. Since, all other rodents are also herbivores and birds that eat vegetable crops are herbivores, the current language of ORS 610.002 generate false definitions and thus does not reflect well on the Oregon legislature. Those promoting ORS 610.002 would be far more reasonable if they chose another route for defining which animals are eligible for control rather than mischaracterize them.
While we supported HB3464 as proposed in terms of providing the state mammal greater protection, we were disappointed that it did not correct the language of the statute. The version of HB3464 as amended and engrossed seems to have fallen ‘prey’ to the same problems that were inherent in ORS 610.002 regarding the treatment of beavers. This is because it now reinstates the ability of landowners to kill this mammal without much requirement for a demonstration of need, or an effort to circumvent that need by adopting alternative approaches to beaver management. During testimony in the House, Jakob Shockey, Executive Director of the Beaver Coalition, spoke eloquently about other options for dealing with beaver problems than killing them.
For these reasons, if the goal is to protect our state mammal, we urge a return to the language of the introduced bill. However, if the goal is to correct the statute, language should be developed that contains definitions that are biologically correct.
Minelli A. 2008 Predation. Encyclopedia of Ecology. https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/agricultural-and-biological-sciences/predation
Texas undated. PREDATOR-PREY RELATIONSHIPS, Texas Parks and Wildlife Magazine. https://tpwd.texas.gov/publications/pwdpubs/media/pwd_lf_k0700_0015.pdf
Libretexts undated. Predation and Herbivory. 45.5B: Predation, Herbivory, and the Competitive Exclusion Principle. Libretexts. Biology https://bio.libretexts.org/Bookshelves/Introductory_and_General_Biology/Book%3A_General_Biology_(Boundless)/45%3A_Population_and_Community_Ecology/45.05%3A_Community_Ecology/45.5B%3A_Predation_Herbivory_and_the_Competitive_Exclusion_Principle#:~:text=Predation%20and%20Herbivory,-Most%20animals%20fall&text=An%20animal%20that%20hunts%2C%20kills,most%20song%20birds%20are%20examples .