County should get busy with beaver control

Saddletree residents are asking the county’s help for a gnawing problem that just won’t go away, but so far they are finding no relief. The Robeson County Board of Commissioners, we are convinced, want to help with the beaver problem in that community, but seems stuck and unable to determine what is the best plan.

We have a suggestion: What about an all-of-the above approach?

There is an abundance of beavers in the community building dams that cause flooding, damaging road and bridges, killing trees and rendering productive farmland useless. That standing water this summer will become a breeding ground for mosquitoes, which can carry debilitating and even deadly diseases.

So the problem is not exaggerated — and will only grow without intervention.

On Monday and for a second time, a Saddletree resident stood before the commissioners and suggested that a bounty program that is apparently working in Columbus County be replicated here. In Columbus, the county pays $40 to any person who brings in a dead beaver. There are plenty of people in Robeson County who know how to handle a rifle, enjoy hunting, and probably would appreciate the payday, even if it is modest.

Bo Benton, a wildlife specialist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Beaver Management Assistance Program, isn’t convinced the bounty program is the best approach, saying killing a beaver doesn’t solve the problem of existing dams. That may be true, but a dead beaver isn’t going to construct a new dam.

Robeson County is currently paying $59,000 a year to participate in the Beaver Management Assistance Program, which provides manpower and equipment to remove beavers and destroy dams. Benton said property owners are responsible for service fees of $25 a visit and $125 per dam removed up to 15 visits. After that the cost increases.

On Monday, the idea of the county picking up the bill for residents was floated, but no decision was made.

There was also the suggestion that a committee be formed to look harder for a solution. But we think more action and less talk is in order.

Why not begin a bounty program and see if it can put a significant dent in the beaver population? Benton can continue to relocate or kill beaver and also dismantle dams. The county, if it sees fit, can chip in to defray the costs for property owners.

Monday’s meeting ended without any concrete plan to move forward, only a promise to revisit the situation later in the year when beavers again get busy.

We don’t understand why the wait. All of what has been suggested can be executed now and at very little cost.

It seems to us worth the try.