Click photo to enlarge
A member of the beaver family in Martinez gathers dam-building twigs during an evening swim on Monday. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)
MARTINEZ -- A family of Martinez beavers will be spared a death sentence after the state agreed Tuesday to issue a relocation permit amid public outcry over the city's proposal to kill the creatures and remove their dam to prevent downtown flooding.

The beavers instead will be trapped and quarantined at the Lindsay Wildlife Museum and will later be released in an area approved by the state, said Martinez Mayor Rob Schroder and state Department of Fish and Game spokesman Steve Martarano.

"After a quick survey, I've gotten 150 e-mails, 100 percent of them say don't kill the beavers," said Schroder, who approached the state Monday through labor leader Jim Kellogg, who is a member of the Fish and Game commission.

About 100 residents, still upset after officials backed down, showed up at Alhambra Creek on Tuesday night and turned what was to have been a candlelight vigil into a defiant rally.

"Tonight was supposed to be a vigil and really get everyone ready to storm the gates at the City Council meeting" (tonight), said Joey Piscitelli, a 22-year Martinez resident who was hawking $8 white T-shirts emblazoned with drawings of two beavers that read, "Save the Alhambra Creek BEAVERS."

He and others were critical of the proposal to kill the animals.

"People from all over the U.S. have been complaining, and the complaining was just starting," he said. "You can only imagine what would have happened if they said no. Our argument was never about taking down the dam. Killing is murder."

To ensure attendees knew the beavers now will be moved, the city posted a news release attached to fluorescent pink paper and mounted on sticks in two locations at the Escobar Street bridge, stating that the beavers would be moved instead of killed -- "something the city did not wish to pursue," it read.

City administrators found no feasible way to keep the beavers and their dam without worsening flood risks. The city has spent $9.7 million in the past 10 years to reduce flood risks from the creek.

Not far from the dam, the creek came within two feet of flooding during an Oct. 12 rainstorm.

On Tuesday night, rally attendees held candles and cheered raucously whenever the beavers surfaced. The animals generally gave the crowd a wide berth, circling around their dam and then diving quickly under water.

Roberta Alford, a retired nurse, said she and others were there "just to make sure there's people that aren't going to put up with killing them, we just want to let (the city) know we're not going to accept that."

Martinez resident Julian Frazer cruised by on one of his horses, Silhouette, contending that the city should find a way to keep the beavers, which are visited daily. "This is the perfect exhibition" and could be a regional draw, he said.

Children were enthralled by the beavers and the spectacle.

"Yea, beavers," cheered Elijah Alcala, 2, as he watched them tend the dam from the arms of his baby sitter, Carmen Farthing, 15, an Alhambra High School sophomore. Another man wore an Alhambra High shirt with an ironed-on picture of a beaver, saying the school should change its mascot from the Bulldogs to the Beavers.

Reach Scott Marshall at 925-945-4782 or smarshall@bayareanewsgroup.com.

Meeting

  • WHAT: Martinez City Council

  • WHEN: 7 tonight

  • WHERE: Alhambra High School Performing Arts Center, 150 E St. (special location)

  • INFORMATION: 925-372-3500