County, state join forces to control beaver problems

Published 12:07 am Thursday, June 11, 2009

State and county money is funding work to keep beaver activity to a minimum in an effort to prevent flooding.

One area near Otis Stewart Road and Dumas Bailey Road has some of the bucktoothed rodents living in the area using their natural abilities to create their own pond. District IV Supervisor J. Patrick Lee said work is ongoing to keep the beaver population, and their dam building activity, at bay.

County Road Foreman Grady Ladner estimates that beaver activity in that area off Otis Stewart Road caused about 100 acres to be flooded. A couple of weeks ago, Wildlife Specialist Cole Boyd destroyed a large beaver dam that was causing the problem as part of the county’s participation in a state-wide effort, Lee said.

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That large dam, described as several hundred feet long, was causing neighboring communities, including Eagle Heights, to flood during heavy rains, Lee said. The dam was broken up last month, Road Department Administrative Assistant Tammy Johnson said.

Funding for the work comes from a number of sources, said Johnson. The Mississippi Department of Transportation, Pearl River Basin Development District, the State of Mississippi and Pearl River County, to name a few, pitch in to keep beaver activity to a minimum. The money is used to pay for the U.S. Department of Agriculture work that Boyd performs in breaking up dams and trapping the beavers. For about the past 15 years, the program has been keeping tabs on beaver activity. The program ended temporarily a few years ago but was brought back last fall, Johnson said.

Johnson estimates that the cost to the county to do the work might go up next year. This past year the county pitched in about $4,000 for the program. Next year that amount could increase to $7,000.

Currently, there are about 20 active beaver sites in Pearl River County, Johnson said. The number of sites could increase if the population is not controlled. Young beavers move on to other sites when their parents give birth to new litters, she said.

“When this year’s batch gets kicked out, they got to go somewhere,” Johnson said.

Johnson said water backing up because of the dams could not only causes homes to flood, but also compromises the integrity of county roads due to erosion. Beavers have a natural instinct to build dams that create ponds for them to live in, but those ponds also bring in other nuisance animals, such as the nutria rat. Johnson said damage to ornamental trees has been reported due to beaver activity.