Officials to begin trapping, killing animals soon
by Mike Parks
It’s time for beavers to get out of Colonel Francis Beatty Park.
The Mecklenburg County Nature Preserves and Natural Resources Division will soon hire a wildlife damage control agent to trap and kill beavers at Col. Beatty Park, near Matthews, and at south Charlotte’s Park Road Park. It’s a matter of safety, according to natural resources manager Chris Matthews, who said the chance of beaver-damaged trees coming down on park goers is too much of a risk to leave the animals alone.
And that’s becoming a serious situation at Beatty Park, Matthews said. There he found close to 200 trees – all at least the thickness of a softball and some so big you can’t wrap your arms around them – with “moderate-to-fatal beaver damage.” That means the chance of those trees falling is high – something the county can’t risk with so many people using the park at 4330 Weddington Road. There also are a number of structures at Beatty, including Lake Pointe Hall that often hosts weddings, which could be damaged by a falling tree.
“We’ve been trying to figure out how to keep the beavers from chewing up all the trees out there for a couple years,” Matthews said. The county already put up fencing around some of the larger trees near the meeting hall, but had to cut down others that were damaged and in danger of falling. Meanwhile, many residents fish at Beatty Park, walking into areas the beavers have made treacherous.
The situation isn’t as bad at Park Road Park, but the beavers haven’t been there as long, either, Matthews said.
Matthews hates that killing the beavers is the only option.
But because of how destructive they are, moving the beavers to another location isn’t a good option. If the county moved the beavers to an area that eventually became flooded or damaged due to beaver activity, the county could be liable for that damage, he said. Also, beavers don’t handle being relocated well, Matthews said, and often die as a result of the stress.
So the county will hire a company to set traps in both parks to humanely kill the beavers, Matthews said, then he’ll start preparing for more beavers to move in – which he knows is inevitable. One way to do that is by spreading a mixture of paint and sand on tree trunks, which often stops beavers from chewing those trees.
And Matthews needs volunteers to help paint those trees.
But there are times when beavers and the county can live in harmony. Matthews said there have been a couple instances where the county has purchased land with beavers, especially where their presence has created a unique ecosystem. But Matthews can’t move the Beatty Park or Park Road Park beavers onto county land where beavers already are because of how territorial they can be.
“We would love to leave the beavers alone, but it’s become too much of a safety issue,” he said.
Want to help?
To volunteer to help protect trees at Colonel Francis Beatty Park from beaver damage, call Chris Matthews at 704-432-4531. The park is located at 4330 Weddington Road near Matthews.