When the beavers on the Chena River in Fairbanks, Alaska, began to turn into a real nuisance last fall, Girl Scout Troop 34 stepped in. Troop 34, of the Farthest North Girl Scouts Council in Fairbanks, participates in a youth outreach program of the Alaska Trappers Association (ATA). Volunteers from the troop accompanied trappers to learn about beaver habitat, help map dams, and set underwater snares. They also learned how to clean and tan the hides and make garments with the pelts.
When the story broke in the mainstream media last November, animal rights groups railed against the scouts’ activities. Calls flooded Fairbanks. Girl Scout officials in the Lower 48 stated that the organization doesn’t offer merit badges for hunting and trapping and does not officially promote either activity, no matter their popularity in Alaska.
“[BRACKET “Hunting and trapping”] are part of Alaska’s culture,” says Cathie Harms, information officer with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, which partners with the ATA. “The more we can teach youth about how to interact with natural resources, the more they’ll be able to make informed decisions about wildlife management when they’re older.”
An undaunted Troop 34 is continuing to help control the Chena beavers.