City of

District 16

Alder Michael J. Tierney

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Alder Michael J. Tierney

Contact Information

Home Address:

4534 Secret Garden Dr
McFarland , WI 53558

Council Office

Common Council Office:
210 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd
Room 417
Madison, WI 53703
Phone: (608) 266-4071
Fax: (608) 267-8669
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Alder Tierney’s Updates

Beaver traps have been removed from Warner Park

April 1, 2017 1:10 PM

Greetings All – 


As a part of our responsibility to manage the public park system, we are challenged with achieving a balanced natural environment for all flora and fauna (and humans) in conditions that are greatly impacted by the presence of humanity in large numbers.   Parks uses a variety of methods to manage the wildlife within the system.  Our wildlife management practices are rooted in years of knowledge and experience from professional staff of the specific locations and issues involved.  Trapping is a very limited method that is only authorized in specific situations and within Wisconsin DNR guidelines and regulations.  We do not pursue this as an option without consideration of alternatives.   Parks is willing to have any or all of our wildlife management practices reviewed should that be the desire of our policymakers.


Effective this morning, April 1st, all beaver traps have been removed from Warner Park.   Over the last 24 hours two active traps were removed from the park without authorization.  This type of action presents significant safety risks to the person removing the traps.  As always, we consider the totality of the circumstances in our decision-making related to wild life management in our parks, and in this case the potential safety risks outweigh the benefit.


Parks staff will be monitoring the situation in Warner Park and evaluating next steps.  This will include close evaluation of damming and tree destruction activities.    




Eric M. Knepp

Madison Parks Superintendent


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Greetings All – 


I am writing to share information with you in regard to the trapping of beavers in the Warner Lagoon.  This issue is getting a relatively sizable amount of public input and I suspect you may hear about it soon if you have not yet.  If you would like to discuss, please do not reply all, but do reach out to Charlie or I for additional information.  We take these situations very seriously and I want to assure you all that the authorization for trapping is not done without balancing numerous factors.   


A resident recently contacted Madison Parks to make us aware of beaver activity in and around the Warner lagoon.  Staff inspected the area and noticed that more than 12 trees around the lagoon had irreparable damage or had recently fallen due to damage. In assessing the trees and shoreline, staff determined that the damage was recent and caused by beavers.  Staff also determined that a number of trees that had not fallen would need to be removed as they were in a hazardous condition and location for dogs and people using the park.   In addition to the tree damage, beavers often build dams near the outlet structure to Lake Mendota from the lagoon.  This will create flooding across the park, especially during large rain events, and could alter the land use over the intermediate term by raising the water level of the lagoon.  In the past couple of years we have had the water level rise at this location to near the bikepath due to beaver activity.  A lack of water flow to the lake could also contribute to the hypoxia/anoxia conditions of the lagoon by limiting the flow to the lake which increases the likelihood of a large scale fish die off.   Trapping is conducted by a WDNR licensed trapper and only to the extent necessary to mitigate the hazards of tree death, shoreline damage, and flooding.  


Below are some of the points/questions we have seen in communications on this topic. 


The type of trees – junk, short-lived, boxelders, mulberries mostly

In reviewing some of the photos from the site (some are attached here), a number of the trees are undoubtably ash and mulberries.  Unforutnately, beavers are not very selective in the trees they damage.  I do not have a full inventory of what has been damaged as of today, but all trees in the area that are of the desired size for beavers are potentially at risk with an active beaver population.

Family structure – young rely on parents for food, babies will be starve without food source of parent killed, young stay with parents for couple of years

Beavers normally give birth to new kits in May-June in Wisconsin, so the youngest beavers present are likely juvenile yearlings.

Public input – why wasn't public notified and input solicited first

Trapping is a longstanding wildlife management practice that the City has used when necessary to address issues such as habitat damage.   Parks is willing to review practices and communication standards with policymakers and the community, but staff does not think it is practicable to have a public process prior to each instance of trapping being authorized given the timing of a quick response.  In the specific case of the Warner lagoon there has been discussion on the issue of beavers as it relates to their ability to dam the outlet to Lake Mendota.

Drowning traps are barbaric and assume used based purely on cost

The Wisconsin DNR does not recommend live trapping and relocating of beavers.  If a live trap was used, the beaver would still likely be euthanized.  

Is trapping even legal?

Yes.  If a private resident wanted to trap on our lands we would require them to get a City permit, which requires approval by the agency managing the land.  In Parks, during the last 8 years we have not issued such a permit for private trapping for sport.  The only trapping that has occurred has been at our direction for the purposes of removing wildlife that was adversely impacting the land, water and ecological balance of the parkland.






Eric M. Knepp

Madison Parks Superintendent


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