Mostly Trapping

Beaver management changes considered
Feb 18, 2019 18:49 ET

(Reprinted from above link)

ELIZABETHTOWN — Bladen County may soon decide on a new approach to beaver management.

E.W. Bowen of East Arcadia approached the commissioners at their Dec. 4 meeting. Nobody disagreed with his assessment that the southern parts of the county have a particularly bad time with beavers.

There was also little disagreement on ineffective federal programs over about a quarter of a century. Commissioners agreed to seek a better solution and at Wednesday’s planning retreat heard from Edward Davis, a Bladen County native who is director of the Soil and Water Conservation District in Columbus County.

Davis presented information and answered questions over the course of about 30 minutes.

Bladen and Columbus counties participate in the federal government’s Beaver Management Assistance Program, commonly known as BMAP. It comes at an annual cost of $4,000.

Bladen County doesn’t go beyond that program level. It does have the option to go to what is called the next level, which is hiring a full-time person at about $60,000 annually.

Columbus County doesn’t go to that level but has essentially, Davis said, found a medium between the two. It started a bounty program, one managed by a commissioner-appointed Beaver Management Committee.

The regulations are thorough to include how the process works from start to finish, verifications for landowners and absentee landowners, and site evaluations before trapping.

All trappers used are from a county list, and all are Columbus County residents.

Davis said the program’s integrity remains intact because the committee doesn’t always have the same bounty part. For example, this year it’s both front feet.

As the process moves along, there are several forms to be completed — all of which go to responsibility and accountability, and include the county, the landowners and the trappers. There’s even a form for removal of a beaver dam.

“The county is paying $40 for front feet,” said Greg Martin, the county manager. “They do issue the tags ahead of time. Edward will go out and look at the property, and they issue tags. They bring the tags back with the animal.”

Martin didn’t have an exact number, but estimated Columbus County had about $40,000 annually for its program. Davis said that in one year, trappers brought in more than 500 beavers. Last year, it was 300-plus.

At $40 each, 500 beavers are $20,000, a significant amount under the salary of the full-time person option.

In an email to Martin, Davis wrote, “Beaver, in the right place, are very beneficial. But, when their activity causes damage to our property (homes, septic systems, yards, roadways, cropland, etc.) thus causing a public health and human safety issue, they must be controlled.”

Davis told commissioners that since going to the program, the county has had success managing the beaver population. He said it has been more successful than hiring a full-time salaried person in the government’s next level up, and the county has retained a good working relationship at the federal level through still being in the BMAP program.

One thing Davis made clear is that his presentation was to show options, and that each county has different variables leading to what it believes will be its best choices.

Davis said the committee set up in Columbus County is designed to have 14 members — two from each commissioner’s district.

Commissioners retreat includes presentation from successful Columbus County program
Alan Wooten

Bladen Journal

Alan Wooten can be reached at 910-247-9132 or awooten@bladenjournal.com. Twitter: @alanwooten19.