Mostly Trapping

Beavers decimating trees in Nevers Park to be trapped, killed this spring
Feb 18, 2019 16:31 ET
Comments: SOUTH WINDSOR — Licensed trappers will utilize deadly traps this spring to remove the two or three beavers living in a Nevers Park pond that have damaged and felled nearly 200 trees over the last six months.

Unless the beavers abandon the area before spring arrives, trapping will be used as an uncommon last resort to protect public safety and prevent further damage, town officials said.

A January Facebook post by a resident on a South Windsor community message board asked town workers to stop destroying the dams that beavers built in the northern section of the 157-acre park. The post received over 80 comments from residents who overwhelmingly agreed that the town should leave the beavers alone if they’re not harming anyone.

The social media chatter prompted a response from Parks and Recreation Director Ray Favreau and Parks Superintendent John Caldwell, who presented the beaver issue and their recommended solution to the Town Council during their Jan. 22 meeting. Favreau said the presentation was “to clarify misunderstandings and rumors” floating around town.

“We do not hate beavers,” he said, emphasizing that officials are in favor of peaceful and safe coexistence whenever possible. There’s beaver activity at about 40 park locations in South Windsor, he said, and town workers don’t typically disturb them.

While beavers can provide benefits to an ecosystem by raising the water levels of bodies of water and creating habitats for other wildlife, officials said their activity in Nevers Park has become hazardous, and trapping and killing them is the best option.

“In this case it’s in a high public use area,” Favreau said, “and we feel it’s the safest thing to do.”

Favreau explained that the beavers eating tree bark and building dams have destroyed over 187 healthy trees and caused trees to fall onto the Nevers Park trails. Flooding in the area from beaver activity also creates stagnant pools of water that serve as seasonal breeding grounds for mosquitoes.

Beavers girdle the 40- to 50-foot-tall trees by eating the bark at their base, Favreau said, which may leave trees standing but essentially kills them. Those trees could easily fall during a windstorm and are a hazard to those walking or running on the popular trail system. At best, they’re left to rot, he said.

Town workers have attempted to control the beavers by installing water level control devices that prevent excessive flooding, officials said.

Town staff also tried several times to remove the dams the beavers built to encourage them to leave, but they persisted and rebuilt each time, Favreau said.

As a last resort, Favreau recommended trapping and killing the beavers, which is listed as the best option for their population management on the state’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection’s website. Relocating the beavers is a costly way of moving the problem from one site to another, DEEP research shows.

Beavers overpopulate Connecticut, Favreau said, reproducing in great volume and remaining unaffected by predators or diseases that could control their population naturally. Beaver damage complaints led to a regulated trapping season in the 1960s, according to DEEP.

The Town Council asked for more information about different methods the town could use to prevent damage without removing the beavers. Eventually, they agreed that public safety was a top priority and supported the Parks Department recommendation.

The critters are currently inactive for the winter, staying under the ice in the lodge they built to keep warm and mate. Licensed trappers will remove them when they emerge in the spring, Favreau said, unless the beavers abandon their lodge.

Once the beavers are removed, town staff will then proceed with felling dozens of trees that would eventually fall, and clean up the mess in the park. The dead trees will be replaced through natural means, Favreau added.