Conservation and Trapping Science

Town mayor halted trapping of beavers; looking at other options
Jun 16, 2022 06:56 ET

[Reprinted from original]

CUMBERLAND – If there’s another option than trapping beavers, Mayor Jeff Mutter says he’s open to it.

Mutter hadn’t previously given a status update on the town’s move last month to trap beavers and have them euthanized as a way to limit their damage and the flooding of local properties, but he said this week that he actually ended the practice the day after a May 19 Breeze article about it.

“I take responsibility. I knew we were trapping, I really didn’t know the whole situation,” he said. “I’ve got to weigh the public health problem and find the right thing to do. If there’s another way to solve this issue and I don’t have to disrupt the beaver situation, we’ll do that.”

At a June 1 meeting, town resident Kristin De Hertogh, of 7 Pine Road, wearing a “save the beavers” shirt, said she’d always been proud to live in Cumberland, but was upset to learn that the town had started a program to trap and euthanize the beavers. She asked if any alternatives had been considered, saying this matter should have been a matter for public input. De Hertogh was asked to request an upcoming agenda item so the council could discuss the matter.

Mutter did not indicate at that meeting that the town had ended its new program, telling De Hertogh that she could come into his office at any time to suggest alternatives. He said he would welcome any opportunity to solve any problems, whether related to humans or animals.

De Hertogh said she would like to work with the mayor to find alternatives, saying she assumes there could be grant money or money from animal rights groups available to help defray the cost of humanely responding to the beaver problem, which has been blamed for flooding that threatens properties and roads.

Mutter says he didn’t know until The Breeze article, where Highway Supt. Dennis Vadenais was quoted on the process being used, that the town was required by law to euthanize trapped beavers.

“Just because I make a decision doesn’t mean I’m right,” he said. “Shame on me for not knowing completely what I authorized.”

The Breeze asked Mutter about one option in particular suggested by Luke Gallant, of Blackstone, Mass., as an alternative to trapping and euthanization. Gallant said his own company hired Michael Callahan of Beaver Solutions in Massachusetts as an expert in long-term, permanent and environmentally responsible beaver remediation.

Callahan’s work, found at beaversolutions.com, involves a low-cost alternative utilizing an underwater flow pipe that is set to maintain a 3-foot level of water. The pipe is driven through the dam and capped with screens to allow water to flow and lower the flooding basin, while giving beavers no cause for alarm because they do not see their habitat getting too low.

“The beavers cannot hear the water clearing out of the basin and there is no instinctual reactive behavior to dam up the outlet,” said Gallant in an email. “I’ve used Beaver Solutions at my company to resolve longstanding issues throughout the adjacent reservoir. The installation is inexpensive and the result is harmless to the eco system and permanent.”

Gallant said they are enjoying permanent success after four years of using the system, with no harm to animals or the environment.