Town bringing heavy cages into fight against beavers

Town bringing heavy cages into fight against beavers

Town of Cumberland employee Tony Harraka shows off some of the heavy-duty contraptions the town will use to discourage beavers from building dams and causing damage.

CUMBERLAND – From the Monastery to Diamond Hill Park, and numerous other waterways across town, local beavers appear undeterred in their path of destruction, causing downed trees and flooding as they move from place to place.

Now town workers, upping their game after a failed experiment with smaller “beaver deceivers,” or wire devices meant to allow water through and prevent beavers from building dams, are installing larger metal cages at strategic locations.

Highway Supt. Frank Stowik said a friend gave him the cages, and they’ve been reinforced with screens that he said are impossible to break through by jumping on them. Three are being installed at the Monastery, he said, and workers are planning to install more.

Stowik said the town will continue to work with the beavers, animals he said are “all over the place” despite ongoing efforts to limit their activity.

A smaller contraption was vandalized at the Monastery last year, he said, but these larger devices will hopefully prove more effective.

Mayor Bill Murray said it’s frustrating dealing with the beaver problems, but town employees are giving it their best efforts. Members of the Cumberland Land Trust installed a system to discourage beavers from doing their thing on Trust property off Nate Whipple Highway, he said, but haven’t been happy with the results.

“They’re causing a problem all over town,” he said.

There are now discussions between some Land Trust members and town officials about potential solutions through trapping, said Murray. Past efforts at taking stronger measures were met with strong resistance, he said, so they’ll exercise caution moving forward.

The problem is a confounding one, said the mayor, particularly because the creatures keep moving to new locations.

“When we stop them in one area, they move on to another area,” he said. “It’s not an isolated situation.”

Efforts to go around the creatures, such as building a bridge over a flooded area at the Monastery, have also been discouraging, he said. Representatives from the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management have taken issue with the bridge, and officials are now in talks with the DEM about whether they can keep it in place.

Evidence of beavers litters area waterways, including this felled tree along the Blackstone River near the Blackstone Valley Bikeway. (Breeze photos by Pat Erickson)
Beavers have been busy gnawing on trees along the Blackstone River, as well as other areas near the water in Cumberland.

Comments

Beavers can improve biodiversity, minimize pollutants, and reduce downstream flooding. The town has allowed too much development near wetland areas and so homeowners are concerned but overall beavers improve the natural habitat. Need to put the brakes on development and let the beavers and other wildlife co-exist with humans.

Never in a million years thought I would ever write that!

Beavers are not great for the drinking supply. They contaminate the drinking water with Giardiasis. And South Cumberland drinks this water from the Pawtucket Water Supply