After two Hill County residents raised the question at Monday’s Hill County Park Board, its chair said the board would consider increasing the amount of trapping being done on the animal that gave Beaver Creek Park its name.
John and Shawn Keeley both asked the board if something could be done to reduce the number of beavers in the park, the trees they are chewing down and the dams they are building.
“It’s just getting to be a problem, ” John Keeley said during the board’s monthly meeting. “They’re knocking down them 75-year-old cottonwood trees, they’ve got those dams built that are flooding campsites. It’s got to be taken care of. ”
Park Superintendent Chad Edgar said he is aware of the problem and may be open to having more trappers on the park.
“They’re not my friend, either, ” Edgar said.
He said the man now trapping in the park, John Holmes, is doing a good job.
“He generally gets throughout the park, ” Edgar said. “The most we’ve ever gotten (in a year) was 240. Last year, I want to say, it was around a hundred beavers. ”
Edgar said the trapping is shut down April 15 each year, and resumes Oct. 15. Not much trapping is done in the winter, with most activity in the early spring and in the fall. He added that, if additional trapping is needed over the summer, he calls Holmes in and the trapper does take additional beavers.
“I have asked (Holmes) to pick up the pace a little bit this year, ” Edgar said.
Keeley said that, in the past, the park had been divided into sections with different trappers covering different sections of the 10,000-acre park.
Edgar said he had had some problems with some of the previous trappers, and stuck with Holmes, who has been very responsive and is good about corresponding where he is trapping and how many beavers he is taking out.
“I ended up keeping him and getting rid of the rest of them, ” Edgar said. “That’s why there’s one trapper right now. ”
But, Edgar said, he is not opposed to interviewing other trappers to help out with the problem.
Board Chair Steve Mariani said talking to Holmes about getting some more trappers and advertising the position and its requirements might be appropriate.
“I’m just wondering if 17 miles of the park is too much for one guy, ” Mariani said.
Hill County Commissioner and board member Kathy Bessette said the county could provide what requirements are necessary, such as the trapper having liability insurance.
Mariani said the board needs to be careful about how the trapping is monitored and done.
“We don’t want everybody fighting, and we want everybody to be accountable, and we want it to be safe, ” he said. “The first dog that gets in a trap or something, or worse, we’ve got to be careful. ”
Shawn Keeley urged that something be done to remove more of the animals.
“I’m concerned that, if it doesn’t get addressed... I don’t want our park to look like one big beaver pond, ” he said.