December 6, 2019

Essex Conservation Commission Authorizes Lethal Trapping of Beavers at Viney Hill Brook Park

Library image courtesy of J Schmidt - NPS Photo

ESSEX— The conservation commission has authorized the lethal trapping of beavers in one of the ponds at Viney Hill Brook Park. First Selectman Phil Miller announced the trapping at a meeting of the board of selectmen Wednesday where a handful of residents objected to the plan.

Miller said beavers have been constructing dams in the smaller of the two ponds at the 900-acre park located off Cedar Grove Terrace, flooding a trail. He said the conservation commission, which supervises a large portion of the park set aside for passive recreation, is concerned the beavers may move to the larger pond that is used as a public swimming area. “There is a potential for more problems,” he said.

Miller said the commission has retained a private trapper, who would do the trapping at no charge in exchange for the beaver pelts that have increased in value in recent years. A permit for the trapping requires the activity be completed during March.

Several residents objected to the trapping, where the beavers are held under water to drown Residents also contended the traps were laid last week, before all nearby property owners were notified of the plan.

Jim Richmond noted the commission’s own regulations prohibit trapping and hunting in the portion of the park that is set aside as an open space nature preserve. Other residents said their dogs often enter the smaller pond, and could have been caught in one of the traps and harmed.

Miller said the traps have been set up, but have not yet been armed to catch the beavers. “I wish we were not in this situation” he said.

Selectman Joel Marzi said he would prefer an alternative method of trapping that allows for a relocation of the beavers without killing the animals, though Miller said that live trapping would require an expense of town funds. Miller maintained that most of the property owners abutting the park favor the trapping.

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