(Courtesy of DEEP)

Complaints on the Rise, DEEP Offers Guidance on Beavers

in Old Lyme

The number of beaver-related nuisance complaints filed with the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) over the past three years rose from 113 in 2016 to 163 in 2018. Another 150 complaints have already been filed this year.

“Beaver complaints are definitely on the rise, and the damage they are causing can be severe,” said Chris Vann, a Nuisance Wildlife Biologist for the Wildlife Division of DEEP.

When a complaint is filed with DEEP, the affected landowner – whether a resident, town or other organization – can apply for a permit to trap the beaver or beavers. Before DEEP will issue a permit, the landowner must prove that the beavers are either causing severe damage or pose a threat to public health and safety. Photographic documentation can be used as evidence for claims of damage, but in the case of septic issues a report by a professional building or health inspector is required.

In the past three years, DEEP has issued 292 permits, and 511 beavers have been trapped due to nuisance complaints. Just under 50 percent of these complaints come from private landowners, the others are from municipalities, DEEP and the Department of Transportation.

Beaver Nuisance Permits by applicant (Courtesy DEEP)

For residents with less than “severe” damage a course of action is less clear.

“The town says go to DEEP… DEEP tells us to go to the town. They each told us it was the other guy’s problem,” said Didier Rocherolle, a resident of Jericho Drive in Old Lyme.

Rocherolle, along with his wife Eugenie Rocherolle, watched the water in their backyard rise more than a foot in the last two years. The slightly damp bog that their dog used to run around in is now completely flooded. The plants have begun to rot, and two trees – root systems and all – have fallen.

The Rocherolles are not the only family on Jericho Drive having trouble. The backyards of their neighbors are also flooding and the last home on the street has flooding in their basement.

Nobody on the street however would qualify for a beaver trapping permit. The flooding, rotting plants and downed trees do not pose a public safety or health hazard.

This flooding is all caused by the same dam on Bucky Brook that is resulting in septic backup, sinking foundations and a flooded yard of Black Hall Pond resident David Berggren. Berggren applied and received a permit last spring but did not successfully hire a trapper to do the job.

“If beavers continue to cause problems residents are definitely allowed to apply for another permit. We have many landowners who apply multiple times,” Vann said.

In the state of Connecticut, there are several professional trappers, but also 35 licensed volunteers spread throughout the state that can help residents with a permit to trap beavers during the offseason. The closest volunteers to Old Lyme are located in Haddam and Clinton, according to Vann.

The offseason stretches from April 1 to November 30. During the other four months of the year it is trapping season for beavers. The fur trade is still big business in Connecticut, Vann said, and there is no limit to the number of beavers that can be trapped per person. According to Vann, each year between 880 and 1,000 beavers are trapped for their fur in Connecticut.

Readers can refer to DEEP’s website for more information.

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