CHESTER – The People for Ethical Treatment of Animals, PETA, organization spoke out against the town’s plans to trap beavers which have caused damage throughout town.
According to a press release from PETA, “the town of Chester is in the process of setting lethal beaver traps in a local waterway (Cedar Lake).”
An action alert was posted on the Website urging visitors to “contact Chester First Selectman Tom Marsh and ask him to remove the traps immediately and explore humane options instead.”
Marsh was unavailable for comment at press time.
In December, Marsh said problems with beavers have been problematic resulting in flooding of homes near Cedar Lake and damage to trees in the Laurel Hill Cemetery causing a threat to the cemetery’s historical tombstones.
At that time, Marsh said he wanted to create a solution based on recommendations of the Natural Wildlife Division of the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection.
Representatives from the division have visited sites destroyed by beavers and determined that damage was also occurring in the Cockaponset State Forrest.
PETA said The American Veterinary Medical Association condemns death by drowning and it can take up to 24 minutes for a beaver to drown.
“The body-gripping traps used to capture and kill beavers cause immeasurable suffering. Beavers who struggle and fight against the traps sustain lacerations and internal injuries,” a PETA press release stated.
Stephanie Boyles, a Wildlife Biologist who works for PETA, said, “We encourage people to protect trees rather than beavers. Connecticut has a healthy beaver population and once an animal is removed, another beaver could come to take their place.”
However, according to the “Beavers in Connecticut” booklet on the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection website, “in situations where the presence of beavers cannot be tolerated or the landowner wishes to control the number of beavers on his/her property, trapping during the regulated winter trapping season is the most effective approach.”
While there are strict regulations regarding trapping in Connecticut, the booklet states that “trapping can remove a portion of the surplus animals and keep populations in balance with the biological carrying capacity and cultural carrying capacity.”
The biological carrying capacity means that there is limited food, water, and shelter for beavers while the cultural carrying capacity means there is a limit to the number of animals that can coexist with local human populations.
The ultimate purpose of trapping is to reduce property damage and Boyles said she understands those concerns and points to more humane solutions.
“We are trying to outwit an animal that is not very smart but has the instincts and ability to adapt and these are hard-working and tenuous animals,” Boyles said.
To protect trees, heavy gauge wire should be installed within six inches of the girth of the tree with mesh openings of two inches by four inches around the base of the tree and about four feet tall, Boyles said.
For landowners who have experienced flooding as a result of beaver dams in Cedar Lake, Boyles advocates the installation of water level control devices which is a device placed through a beaver dam to drain water from the flowage.
“They won’t work on a dam where water can’t be contained,” Boyles said.
According to the Connecticut DEP, different types of devices include plastic perforated pipes, wooden boxes with mesh bottoms, perforated aluminum culverts, and culverts made from layers of mesh.
Boyles said pipes should be placed lower into the lake if residents want the area to be very dry and higher into the lake if they want the area to be slightly wet.
“A lot of pipe systems can be made so the pipes are not visible,” Boyles said, advocating black polyurethane pipes rather than white PVC pipes for those residents concerned about the appearance of such pipes.
While the pipes require a cleaning once a year for about 15 minutes, Boyles said it is “minimal maintenance for long term solutions for beaver problems.”
Such flow devices have been installed by the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) and according to PETA, “in addition to eliminating road and property damage, the flow devices save VDOT time and resources that were previously spent removing beavers, unclogging culverts, breaching dams, and repairing roads at these chronic damage sites.”
According to the DEP Wildlife Division, “The annual removal of beavers during the regulated trapping season is the best long-term solution to maintaining a balance between beaver populations, suitable beaver habitat throughout the state, and human land uses.”
PETA Director Daphna Nachminovitch stated that “trapping, shooting, or otherwise removing beavers from the Cedar Lake area is nothing but a cruel, short-term fix. The only way to avoid a perpetual and vicious trap-and-kill cycle is to implement a humane beaver-control problem that everyone can live with, including the beavers.”