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N.L. town calls in trapper to deal with pesky beavers clear cutting trees

A beavers' home is shown on the Humber River near Deer Lake, N.L., in this recent handout photo. The Canadian Press/HO - Keith Park

A Newfoundland town has called in a trapper to deal with a group of pesky beavers that have been felling trees on private property – in some cases onto power lines.

Beavers are common to the Humber River, which runs through the town of Deer Lake in western Newfoundland.

But in recent years, the rodents have developed an affinity for trees in residential areas, clearcutting as many as 14 on one property in a single night.

Keith Park, a municipal enforcement officer with the town, said the beavers have become more brazen because new developments have been built closer to their homes.

“You’ll see them sometimes, swimming along the river bank – I guess they’re kind of scoping out where their next venture is,” Park said.

READ MORE: Halifax Regional Police officer rescues injured beaver

There are a number of beaver dams along the Humber River, but one large dwelling in particular – estimated at about three metres wide – is believed to be the source of the intrusive group because of its proximity to a residential street.

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The animals target their favourite tree species such as maples and aspens, and many Deer Lake residents have had their properties laid bare of carefully planted trees.

Last year, Newfoundland Power had to be called in to repair power lines damaged by beaver-toppled trees.

For the second year in a row, a trapper has been called in to repel the bucktoothed bandits.

The provincial Department of Fisheries and Land Resources arranged for a trapper “to address complaints regarding nuisance beavers causing residential property damage,” according to a statement.

Park said the town will avoid disturbing beavers living in other parts of the river that haven’t been approaching private properties.

As of Tuesday, the trapper reported six beavers have been caught and the issue appears to have abated for now, Park said.

Park said most residents in the hardest-hit area seem happy to see the beavers gone, but there has been some resistance to additional trapping.

The trapper reported he will remove traps from an area just outside town because someone has been intentionally setting them off, Park said.

The town is keeping an eye on the other beaver dwellings and Park said people are prepared for more visits in years to come, as more animals may move into the same dwelling.

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“This (beaver) house has been there probably 10 or 15 years now,” Park said. “This will reoccur.”

Click to play video: 'Baby beaver star released back into the wild near Calgary with a new friend' Baby beaver star released back into the wild near Calgary with a new friend
Baby beaver star released back into the wild near Calgary with a new friend – May 18, 2018

Deer Lake is not the only North American city that’s grappled with over-eager beavers mowing down trees.

Grand Marais, Minn., began wrapping tree trunks with chicken wire to stave off the animals – although some managed to cut around the wire, according to the Star Tribune. The issue became a flash point in city council meetings last year after the beavers became emboldened, even crossing a highway to reach more of their favourite trees.

Calgary has taken similar measures to try and manage a growing beaver population, saying the animals are good for the environment but also pose some challenges to urban areas and other wildlife.

The city uses various methods like wrapping metal wire around tree trunks, planting “less palatable” trees along shores, drains to control water levels and – as a last resort – traps, according its website.

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“The City’s practice is to try and strike a balance between health of the surrounding areas and the wellbeing of the beavers,” it said.

This report by the Canadian Press was first published Oct. 15, 2019.

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