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updated: 4/5/2012 1:42 PM

Libertyville to seek outside help to control busy beaver population

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  • Beaver dams have been an ongoing problem for the Libertyville recreation department. Some of the structures built by the industrious rodents reach four feet.

    Beaver dams have been an ongoing problem for the Libertyville recreation department. Some of the structures built by the industrious rodents reach four feet.
    Libertyville Recreation Department


As they are wont to be, beavers along Bull Creek in Libertyville have been busy.

Too busy for the village's parks department, which will seek professional help to deal with the increasingly industrious rodents.

At some point every week, two to three parks workers spend several hours dismantling beaver dams on the south branch of the shallow creek between Winchester Road and Peterson Road.

Aside from the lost manpower, the dams -- some of which are four feet high and sturdily built of sticks, branches, leaves and whatever else is handy -- are a concern because of the potential to cause flooding of property or roads.

"They're very good at what they do," said Jim Barlow, superintendent of parks. "We have not had a flooding issue yet but we want to prevent that."

Barlow says he has learned a lot about North American beavers or Castor canadensis during the past few years during an ongoing struggle with creatures.

"The reason I know that one," he said of the Latin name, "is because I looked it up."

He also has received quotes from three companies to control the critters and secured the go-ahead to hire one from the village board's parks and recreation committee, which is comprised of three trustees.

"We could really go out there every day. They're that quick," he said of the beaver dam building. "It really disrupts work pattern and efficiency. Things aren't getting done because of that."

He estimated crews spend four to eight hours a week, three to four months a year dismantling beaver dams and the frequency is increasing.

Bull Creek is a tributary of the Des Plaines River and varies in width from about seven to 29 feet, according to Patty Werner, planning supervisor for the Lake County Stormwater Management Commission. The south branch drains an area of about six square miles along its seven or more mile course.

"Beavers are not an uncommon problem in Lake County," Werner said. "You kind of manage beavers. I'm sure you don't get rid of beavers."

In making his case to the committee, Barlow said crews can't keep up and recommended the beavers be trapped to reduce the population. Beavers can't be culled and must be removed by a state-approved trapper, he added. Once caught, those particular animals won't be back.

"They can be live trapped," Barlow told the committee. "The problem with live trapping is you have to find someone to take them."

That option also requires more skill, time and knowledge, and is more expensive, he added.

Prices to trap and remove the animals from one company Barlow said he will speak with this week, range from $675 for one animal to $2,050 for a dozen.

The total does not require full board approval.

Barlow said he didn't know how many beavers have been at work but noted they have lots of pups and move from location to location, so there likely will be more coming.

The length of Bull Creek in this area mostly is owned by the village, with some parts owned by Libertyville Township or private owners. Barlow said they won't trap on private property.

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