CHESTER – Beavers are wrecking havoc in this small town and First Selectman Tom Marsh thought it best to call in the professionals.
In this case, the professionals are the Department of Environmental Protection Natural Wildlife Division.
“We asked them to provide recommendations for different issues in different parts of town,” Marsh said, adding that two wildlife biologists from the DEP went from the town’s western border to its eastern border to fully examine properties affected by these animals.
While beaver activities in Cockaponset State Forest were examined, more emphasis was placed on activities on land outside the state forest, Marsh said.
Ongoing beaver activity has become a nuisance for those living near Cedar Lake, Marsh said, adding that dams being built by these animals have prevented the lake from properly draining into the swamp.
“People who live along the lake have seawalls and water went over the seawalls and did damage to their property,” Marsh said.
Pipes have been installed in beaver dams in Cedar Lake to allow the water to drain to prevent this backup.
This did not prove to be a solution, Marsh said, as the beavers would abandon the old dam and build another.
Pipes were then installed in the new beaver dam, which would be abandoned by beavers who would build another.
“This has made Cedar Lake look like a junkyard,” Marsh said, as he showed photos of the various pipes sticking out in the middle of the lake.
Marsh said Cedar Lake’s designation as a historical landmark by the National Park System makes preserving the lake’s beauty a top priority, Marsh said.
DEP officials told Marsh that if beaver dams continue to change water flows in the area, it could threaten a particularly unique endangered plant.
Further down at Jennings Pond, beavers have been hard at work building their own dam over the town dam.
Through the work of volunteers, this beaver dam was tore down, Marsh said, adding that beavers then rebuilt the dam within two days.
The town crew was called in to remove the second beaver dam and since then the beavers have not been back.
Beaver dams at Jennings Pond have affected the ability of the pond to drain properly, Marsh said.
Laurel Hill Cemetery is another victim of the beavers, Marsh said, adding that in only two days time beavers have chewed almost completely through the base of one tree, which if unreported, could have fallen on historical and valuable gravestones.
Other trees in the cemetery have been chewed by beavers prompting volunteers to place fencing around these damaged trees, Marsh said.
In order for the fencing to be effective, Marsh said it must be installed six inches away from the tree.
If the fencing is placed directly on the tree, beavers will be able to eat through the fencing.
While trees with fencing six inches away deter beavers from eating those trees, the beavers eat at nearby trees with no fencing, Marsh said.
While beavers tend to be close to water, a resident found a dead beaver run over by a vehicle in downtown.
Solutions undertaken so far have been “reactive not proactive”, and while help from volunteers has been much appreciated, Marsh said, it is important the town develop a long-term plan.
“When we are reactive, most of the damage has already been done,” Marsh said, adding the creation of such a comprehensive plan will be based on recommendations the DEP will make to the town.
While the town several years ago proposed trapping beavers, Marsh said the proposal is “not agreeable by everyone.”
The DEP website states “removing nuisance beavers by live-trapping is not considered a viable option for alleviating beaver problems in Connecticut. This costly technique only serves to move a problem from one site to another.”
Marsh expects to receive a letter from the DEP detailing recommendations around the middle of December.