SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

August 16, 2013

Beavers rile residents in Danvers neighborhood

BY ETHAN FORMAN
STAFF WRITER

---- — DANVERS — Even after the town breached a large dam and hired a trapper to catch the beavers that built it, Brentwood Circle neighbors say they are concerned about flooding, mosquitoes, inundated sewers and more beaver dams.

Neighbors and town officials met last week to discuss the problem, centered in a somewhat remote neighborhood off Route 62, not far from Endicott Park. Beaver Brook runs through wetlands around much of the neighborhood.

Town officials said they’ll do what they can to address residents’ concerns, but the problem is not an easy fix.

“This year, there has been a very significant increase in beaver activity in the area behind the houses on Brentwood Circle, which is a 7.8-acre portion of wetland,” David Saunders, a neighborhood resident, wrote in a letter to town officials explaining the problem.

“We have never seen flooding as bad as it has been in June and July,” said Saunders, whose family has lived there since 1973.

With the water rising, town officials hired a licensed trapper, and the Department of Public Works partially removed the dam and set traps, Saunders wrote, adding that a “more permanent solution” is needed.

Saunders suggested the use of “beaver deceivers,” a system of large plastic pipes and mesh fences that would allow the water to flow and is hard for beavers to block. They are in use at the Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary in Topsfield.

Public Health Inspector Mark Carleo said that he made at least 15 visits this week to the area after neighbors contacted him. He had checked the area frequently, given the heavy rain in late spring and early summer.

Carleo said it was not until a couple of weeks after the heavy rain that beavers intensified their activity and built a large dam — and that’s when the water started to become a problem. Carleo said he cannot issue an emergency permit to remove a beaver dam and hire a trapper just because of concerns about possible flooding.

“The issue with the existing (state) law that we have, in order for us to issue an emergency permit, we have to have an imminent health threat,” he said.

The next step will be to create a management plan to find a long-term solution to flooding from beaver dams. Trapping beavers and knocking down dams will not solve the problem, Carleo said.

“When you kill the beavers off, because they are territorial creatures, new beavers will move into the area,” said Carleo, who said that the DPW will also be involved in finding a solution.

He said “pond levelers,” pipes that allow water to run through them but don’t allow beavers to detect the running water, might make a difference, but he said they do not work in all instances.

The trick is to find a balance whereby beavers can create a pond and live without flooding the neighborhood, Carleo said.

In addition to flooding, neighborhood residents complained about mosquitoes and murky water. One resident at the meeting complained of the stench from what he said was a rotting beaver corpse.

“Taking the beaver dam down didn’t solve everything,” Town Manager Wayne Marquis acknowledged at the meeting.

Selectmen plan to update residents on the issue at their first meeting in September.

Staff writer Ethan Forman can be reached at 978-338-2673, by email at eforman@salemnews.com or on Twitter at @DanverSalemNews.