05/23/08 — Beaver control sought

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Beaver control sought

By Steve Herring
Published in News on May 23, 2008 2:22 PM

Don't leave it to beaver -- at least not in Wayne County where the industrious rodents are taking a toll on timber and cropland.

The dam-building critters have developed into such a problem in Wayne County that county Manager Lee Smith plans to recommend a $15,000 increase in the county budget to combat the problem.

Meanwhile, Duplin County commissioners in budget workshops this week also discussed beavers. Commissioners made no decision, but did discuss charging back some fees related to beaver management to property owners.

Smith said beavers are responsible for damming up streams that flood farm and timber land. The damage costs run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. The county also is affected because of property devaluation.

There is health concern as well since the standing water is a breeding ground for mosquitoes.

He asked county commissioners during their Tuesday meeting to establish an advisory council similar to a Pitt County program that would be operated under the auspices of the county planning office.

Increasing the budget item from $35,000 to $50,000 will allow the county to contract with the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture to have a full-time person in the county to supervise the program.

In response to questioning from commissioners, Smith said fees would be collected for program services such as destroying beaver dams. However, the program would not be self-sustaining.

Smith said Pitt County recoups about 50 percent of its program cost.

"Right now, we pay it all," he said.

Commissioner Jack Best said the county should track the percentage over a five-year period to determine if the fees should be increased or decreased.