Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX

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November 18, 2013

The evidence against BEAVERS is DAMMING!!

Trap them or leave them alone: How to handle problems with 'nature's habitat engineers'

CHEROKEE COUNTY —  They're tiny, nocturnal critters that like to congregate in Texas.

They live around lakes, wooded rivers, and streams. They use their front paws to create burrows in the bank to escape predators. They dig up mud to secure dams and also create canals.

Beavers are controversial animals – both admired and despised for their exceptional digging and building abilities. Beaver dams offer protection against coyotes, wolves, bears and other predators.

"People often disagree about the beaver," a Texas Parks and Wildlife Department spokesman said in a post. "Some think this master dam builder is the smartest thing in fur pants, and they use such words as 'intelligent, energetic,' and 'helpful' when speaking of it. Others claim the paddle-tailed engineer is 'dumb, stubborn,' and 'destructive.'"

A paper written for the University of Arkansas by Rebecca McPeake characterizes beavers as "our largest North American rodent … nature's equivalent of a habitat engineer."

Some experts contend legal trapping efforts help keep the number of beavers under control, but the Humane Society suggests trapping be abandoned altogether as a practice because beavers play much too important of a role in establishing and maintaining wetlands.

"Beaver dams enhance their environment by providing habitat for many sensitive plant and animal species, improving water quality, and controlling floods by slowing water movement," according to the humanesociety.org spokesman.

The Cherokee County Extension Agent's Rusk office, meanwhile, is accepting requests for beaver trapper assistance. Cherokee County landowners must apply to the organization's Rusk office by phone, (903) 683-5416, by email at cherokee@ag.tamu.edu. or by visiting the office – otherwise known as the Courthouse Annex Building – at 165 East 6th St.

Residents who converse with an extension officer will be placed on a waiting list on a "first-come – first-served" basis.

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