NC county considering ‘beaver bounty’ program to mitigate flooding

North Carolina news

PENDER COUNTY, N.C. (WECT) – Flooding in Pender County over the past several years has been extremely damaging, displacing residents and destroying property. County staff is looking at a number of ways to improve drainage issues across the county, and perhaps surprisingly, as it turns out beavers might play a bigger role in flooding than most people would think.

“In the past four years, Pender County has been heavily impacted by flood events of historic proportion. These floods have caused significant damage to hundreds of families and businesses in Pender County, causing folks to lose their homes, crops, timber, and even their jobs. The flooding throughout the county was magnified by the drainage issues along the county’s vast network of streams, creeks and rivers. In many cases, the primary impediment to the flow of water is beaver dams,” according to Pender County staff.

Beaver populations in Pender County have grown significantly in the past decade, according to staff, which is why the beaver bounty is being suggested.

“The uncontrolled growth, fueled by a substantial decline in the value of beaver pelts and the lack of an existing predator, has led to an increase in dams that impede the county’s many waterways and tributaries. These dams contribute to the inability of water to properly drain from tributaries upstream through the county,” according to the Pender County Board of Commissioners agenda.

While there has been funding available to the county to clear out waterways, if beavers continue to rebuild their dams the work is futile.

“To better address the drainage problems, something must be done about the rodents that create the impediments to the natural flow of water. Otherwise, as past debris removal contractors have noticed, the beavers will begin rebuilding dams almost immediately. It is not cost-effective to continue this practice without addressing the root of the problem – the beavers themselves,” according to county staff.

The county has a plan that would include the creation of a new, full-time position, as well as an offer to pay residents for beavers captured.

The plan includes:

  • Develop a new full-time position, titled Watershed and Drainage Technician, whose primary responsibility is to address drainage issues throughout the county, including trapping beavers, removing their dams, and administering the proposed Beaver Bounty Program.
  • Implement a Beaver Bounty Program that connects landowners to private trappers who will be paid a bounty by the county for each beaver removed.
  • Management of the drainage improvement program be assigned to the Planning and Community Development Department, with assistance from the Pender Soil and Water Conservation District Office.
  • Pender County is not alone with its beaver woes, Columbus County already has a bounty program in place and offers $40 per beaver collected. The program has been highly successful in removing more than 1,000 beavers since its implementation.

“Columbus County started a bounty program in 2012 that pays $40 per trapped beaver. Columbus County has found their bounty program to be highly effective in managing the number of beavers in the county. In FY 2012-13, the first year of the bounty program, Columbus County collected 718 beavers. As the number of beavers in the county becomes more manageable, it is anticipated that fewer will be collected each year. In FY 2016-17 and FY 2017-18, Columbus County collected 390 and 404 beavers, respectively,” according to Pender County staff.

From initial documents, it appears Pender County is ready to pay $50 per beaver collected from the county. However, it would not be a free-for-all, trappers would be contracted to collect the beavers.

“Pender County will provide public notice for licensed beaver trappers to register to be on the County’s trapping list. Trappers will be required to show a valid trappers license, issued by the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission before being admitted on the list,” according to Pender County staff.

“When property owners are experiencing issues with beavers on their property, they will contact the County to request a staff member evaluate the potential for beaver activity. Once staff have visited the site and validated the property owner’s request for assistance, staff will contact a verified trapper on the list to determine if they are willing and/or able to trap on said property. Staff will move down the trapper list until a trapper agrees to take on the work.”

The board of commissioners meets at 4 p.m. Monday where they will discuss the proposed plans.

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