The world’s second largest rodent has been showing its teeth around Green Lane Park.
Officials said the beaver population at the 4,000-acre park, including Knight and Deep Creek lakes, has flourished to the point the animals are taking over parts of the park land.
The beavers previously called Knight Lake home, but have now expanded to Deep Creek Lake and other part of the Green Lane Reservoir since multiplying.
Many visitors have seen the large beaver lodges and dams or have witnessed the damage done to trees by the animals, whose diet largely consists of the inner bark of aspens.
“I have seen a fair amount of trees down and trees gnawed on,” said Robert Wright of Pennsburg, who frequents the trail system at the park. “On the blue trail off of Hill Road to the boat docks…I have seen the beavers swimming early in the morning too off the new trail near the [Green Lane] nature center.”
“They destroy a lot of valuable trees, valuable wildlife food trees… If you walk along the edge of Deep Creek Lake, you can see a lot of the damage,” said Shope. “Once we saw it we tried to cover some of them with landscape fabric but you can only get so much.”
Some of trees were also covered with a hard wire mesh.
The damage, which may seem superficial to the naked eye, is actually quite extensive, Shope said. If the trees haven’t been downed completely they are “girdled,” where the beavers gnaw around the circumference of the tree to eat the inner bark, eventually killing it.
Mostly alders and swamp white oaks have fallen victim to the animals, Shope said. The swamp white oaks produce acorns, a food source for other wildlife. But also importantly, many of the trees were planted at the locations to stabilize the lake and creek beds.
“We want the beavers here, but we have to control them,” Shope explained.
So park officials contacted the Pennsylvania Game Commission. Game commission officials, after surveying the damage and beaver lodges in the park, supplied county park officials with names of licensed area trappers.
According to PA Game Commission Wildlife Conservation Officer Ray Madden, the commission advised park officials to have the beavers trapped because relocating them to another body of water wasn’t feasible.
“Lawful trapping was an option…We’re running out of beaver habitat,” Madden said, noting he believed the beavers at the park came up the Perkiomen Creek from another location due to deteriorating habitat.
“If there was one or two which needed relocating maybe,” he explained of the possibility. “But there were six just in the one lodge on Deep Creek Lake.”
Beavers were trapped at the park and put down beginning in February. Beaver trapping season began Dec. 26 and runs until March 31.
County park officials said they believed three beavers were caught, but couldn’t give any specifics, deferring to the game commission whom they said was in charge of the trapping.
Madden said his agency had no knowledge of the trapping done at the site as the county, not his agency, contracted with the private trappers.
Madden said more trapping may be done in the future on the Green Lane Reservoir, which is owned by Aqua PA. The reservoir is the site of several beaver lodges as well. That work will be done at the direction of Aqua PA, a private corporation supplying drinking water to 1.4 million customers in the state.