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Northwest Indiana Counties Target Disruptive Beavers

beaver

(Flickr/Larry and Laura)

Beavers in Northwest Indiana are causing problems by blocking storm water drainage systems with their dams, so counties are turning to trapping and euthanizing the animals to deal with the issue.

Lake County has euthanized about 140 beavers from 2016 through 2018, The (Northwest Indiana) Times reported.

"It is a necessary evil," said Dan Gossman, Lake County's senior drainage administrator.

Contractors are focusing on beavers that disrupt the drainage system, said Lake County Surveyor William Emerson Jr. The county spent $60,500 to dismantle 10 beaver dams in 2017.

"We have tried having a crew out there full time removing dams multiple times, thinking they would leave, but they come right back and can rebuild in a day," Emerson said.

State rules require beavers to be relocated within the county they're found, but Lake County doesn't have a beaver sanctuary, Emerson said.

"We don't want to relocate a live beaver to another area to cause problems. So our contractor euthanizes them," Emerson said.

Porter County Surveyor Kevin Breitzke estimates that the county euthanizes about 15 beavers annually. Beavers that are relocated often run into problems in their new environment, he said.

"The poor beaver, usually a 2- or 3-year-old, who is relocated is confused by their new surroundings and attacked by the beaver who is already established in the territory," Breitzke said.

Beavers instinctually build dams to create still water, which can protect them from predators and makes it easier for them to float materials, said Geriann Albers, a furbearer biologist at the state Department of Natural Resources.

"Beavers can provide a lot of habitat benefits. A lot of species benefit from beaver ponds. It creates wetland habitat for fish and wading birds. Beaver dams also can act as wildlife highways across flowing water," Albers said.

The dams can cause issues when they're found in urban areas, Emerson said.

"Their dams back up water and flood homes, and cause a lot of still water that provides habitat for mosquitoes," he said.

Beavers initially went extinct in the state in 1840 after trappers hunted them for their fur, Albers said. Indiana reintroduced beavers to the area in 1935 and the animals now live in almost all of the state's 92 counties.

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