Taking A Look At Wildlife Problems

CONWAY, AR–You folks with squirrels in the attic, or maybe it’s Raccoons, could disagree, but Beavers are close to the top of our wildlife problem list.

We are not talking about the deer that didn’t cooperate by walking into and standing still before your rifle sights this year. And we’re not talking about the absence of mallards when and where you wanted them.

Beavers are headaches for farmers in our area, and from recent news reports in the Log Cabin Democrat, they are troublesome on some Faulkner County roads and inside the city of Conway itself.

Right off the bat here, we’ll pass along a comment made a number of times of wildlife biologists, especially those involved with ducks. Beavers are partly responsible for the favorable duck habitat we have in Arkansas. Beavers create ponds in wooded areas. These are what wintered Mallards and other ducks love small and shallow areas close to food sources.

Beavers were plentiful in Arkansas in early days, and trappers, mostly French, had successful careers working in the beaver pelt industry before there was an Arkansas, territory or state. Settlement by white pioneers and clearing of forests eliminated Beavers to the point they were scarce early in the last century.

The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission imported several dozen Beavers to re-establish their numbers in the state, and for several decades now AGFC has been blamed “for putting Beaver in Arkansas.” True, some were brought in. False is the notion that we didn’t have Beaver in Arkansas before those state people imported a few.

But when Beaver are in excess, they indeed are nuisances.

In the recent past, the Game and Fish Commission had several trappers on its staff, but their function was educational. They showed farmers and other landowners how to trap Beaver to cut down on these problems. They didn’t trap Beaver as a service.

Large quantities of explosives, mostly dynamite, are used every year in Arkansas for “blowing beaver dams.” And nearly anyone who has done this adds the words, “the Beaver had the dam built back the next day.” Yes, “busy as a Beaver” is a phrase founded through experience with the critters.

Wildlife people, the biologists of state, federal and private connections, uniformly tell us that trapping is the most efficient means of getting rid of beaver or at least removing them where a problem exists.

Shooting beavers seldom works. It is frowned upon, of course, inside the city, and elsewhere, even a good hand with a rifle is shooting at an animal that swims with just its nose above the water surface. When a shot is fired, that nose disappears, so the shooter doesn’t know if the Beaver is killed or not. A Beaver carcass sinks.

There remains a market for Beaver pelts, according to veteran trapper Phillip Worm of Conway. It is not overwhelmingly lucrative, but the hides can be sold. Skinning Beavers is quick a chore, too.

Beaver meat is edible and in the hands of a proficient wild game cook can be tasty. Our personal experience with Beaver on the dinner table leads to an assessment of well below deer, far beneath squirrel, not nearly as good as rabbit. But it is palatable barbecued or in stews or chili-type dishes. –Log Cabin Democrat