Eagle Ranch on beaver watch | VailDaily.com

Eagle Ranch on beaver watch

Derek Franz
dfranz@eaglevalleyenterprise.com

EAGLE – High water flows in Brush Creek from spring runoff might take care of the beaver problem that flared up in Eagle Ranch last fall.

A rapidly expanding population of beavers was building dams in the residential area, killing trees and clogging storm ponds that are part of a pollution-control system.

"With the high water, the beavers likely went up or downstream," said Eagle Open Space Director John Staight.

Stacy Chase of Chase Wildlife LLC in Gypsum — the company Eagle hired to monitor and mitigate the beaver problem — said she is waiting to see how many beavers move back to the area after runoff.

"There's one dam we're actively monitoring and at least one beaver that we know of in the area," she said. "Otherwise it appears the population has scattered."

Chase said she broke up a large dam that was near the bike path.

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"We'll see how quickly the dam is rebuilt and that will give us an indication of how many beavers are working on it," she said.

She anticipates seeing dam activity in about a month if the critters are still around.

Staight said the town has the option to trap and euthanize the beavers but that is the last thing anyone wants to do. Instead, trapped beavers will be relocated. The town started trapping and relocating the beavers last fall, but was told to wait until the summer to do any relocating.

"The Colorado Parks and Wildlife Department said relocating the beavers so late in the season before winter would likely cause the beavers to starve to death," Staight said. "They told us if we were going to trap them in the fall we should euthanize them."

Since the town didn't want to hurt the animals, the Eagle Public Works Department made temporary devices to keep the storm ponds in working order and protect trees in the area through the winter. The flow of water between the storm ponds is critical to filter pollutants, such as lawn fertilizers, out of the water before it goes back into Brush Creek.

In other cases, homes were threatened by possible flooding if the beaver dams persisted.

Staight said the town recently had to clear some material beavers placed over the pond drains.

"It's a challenge because of the urban-wildland interface we have here," Staight said. "It's going to be an ongoing problem."

Chase said if the dam problem persists, there are water-flow control devices that can be installed in the dams.

"It tricks the beavers and they can keep building the dam without effects," she said.

"We're always going to have issues because of the way the waterway is and we will need population-control measures," she said.