BELGRADE — The town will continue removing troublesome beavers that build their homes in culverts, a problem that has gotten worse this year and can lead to problems for landowners and costly road repairs.

“Beavers have become a serious problem,” Selectman Ernie Rice said. “Not only are they a hazard on roads when they flood, but also they do a lot of damage.”

Rice said the town has put up barriers to discourage beavers and are sensitive to people’s feelings toward the animal. But beaver dams in the culverts can cause flooding and washouts that can lead to costly road repairs, he said.

Road Commissioner Kevin Hawes said the town has had a number of problems with beavers returning to places they were removed from.

He believes the population has grown because there is a lack of interest in beaver trapping.

“They’re not trapping like they used to; the old timers are out of it and the younger generations coming along aren’t getting into it,” Hawes said.

Karl MacCabe, licensed by the state to remove beavers, said he has relocated 14 live beavers from Belgrade for the town and private landowners in the past month or so.

MacCabe said he has heard from some people who prefer all the beavers be taken alive and relocated, but some persistent ones who have been trapped before are wary of the live cage traps, so he has to use the lethal body-gripping clamp trap instead.

“My job is to eliminate the problem so the town doesn’t have to expend a lot of money to repair the roads,” MacCabe said. “And the state allows them to do that, but they like to do all they can do to save the beaver.”

Beaver dams have plugged up culverts on Knowles Road and Horsepoint Road, according to town officials. MacCabe said one culvert had to be reopened by ramming a 25-foot pole through it with a pulp loader.

Mary Vogel, executive secretary for the Board of Selectpersons, said the money to remove beavers from town comes from the road budget. She said the cost varies each year depending on how many problems the town has with beavers.

MacCabe charges 50 cents a mile to move a beaver to another location. His invoices include fees for catching a beaver, baiting traps, the removal of animals and transporting them.

For example, May 12 to 14 removed a beaver on Knowles Road and charged $170, including $35 to trap the beaver and mileage to and from the job, and then 70 miles to the release site.

From May 15 to 21, MacCabe dealt with several other beavers, catching and rebaiting traps and bringing them to other locations. His invoice for those jobs was $340.

MacCabe said he works under the direction of state biologists and game wardens who tell him what method he can use to trap beavers. They determine whether he uses live or kill traps in the off-season for beaver trapping. Beaver trapping season is from mid to late fall until early spring.

Daniel Christianson, a state game warden, said it’s beavers’ natural instinct to build a dam and flood an area. He said beavers bump heads with landowners when they do that, he said.

“We’d rather not kill them. Most of the time we relocate them to another floodage,” Christianson said. “We have people on waiting lists who prefer to have beavers on their land.”

Christianson said there are non-lethal beaver management methods available, including a mesh wire fencing at the culverts’ outlets. His department prefers to work with landowners and highway departments to find out why beavers build in particular spots year after year.

Mechele Cooper — 621-5663

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