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Dardenne Prairie wrestles with damage caused by beaver dams

BeaverDardenne Prairie is facing a dam beaver problem.

“Dam” in this case means a wall of mud, sticks and leaves that these large rodents gnaw with their teeth and place across small streams such as Dardenne Creek, which flows through a portion of the city – although city officials might also tend to use the alternative spelling.

It’s a case of beavers doing what beavers do. But allowing Mother Nature free rein may pose problems for the city.

Dardenne Prairie Mayor David Zucker told the Board of Aldermen at its Dec. 2 meeting that there are “potential consequences for leaving the beavers unmolested.” The latest dam is on the creek near Henning Road.

Beaver dams back up water, which can inconvenience property owners and create ponds that can become breeding grounds for mosquitoes in the spring and summer, Zucker said. Beavers also can cut down large numbers of trees.

Floods and high water can remove some of the dams, and efforts have been made to cut away or remove dams to allow water to flow more freely. But beavers are diligent about repairing breaches in their dams.

A beaver dam blocks Dardenne Creek.

A beaver dam blocks Dardenne Creek.

Zucker said the St. Charles County Animal Control Department and the Gateway Rivers Greenway, an organization with hiking and bicycling paths along the creek, have said they can’t help with the beavers. The city also has had conversations with beaver trappers who can trap them up until March, when the state’s trapping season ends. But Zucker said, “There aren’t enough of them to satisfy a professional beaver trapper’s business plan.”

He noted that with “beaver pelts going for about five bucks apiece,” the city would have to pay about $500 for a trapper to do the work of mitigating the city’s beaver population.

“The solution will not be permanent because there is an inexhaustible supply of beavers living in the Busch Wildlife Reserve [August A. Busch Wildlife Area] who will make their way under Interstate 64 in time and replenish the population,” Zucker said.

Beaver dams aren’t new along the creek.

Alderman Blake Nay [Ward 2] suggested contacting the Missouri Department of Natural Resources to see if they can help remove the beavers. He noted that other efforts by some subdivisions and individuals have removed beavers from time to time.

However, Zucker said the city probably “cannot count on the midnight raid of the unidentified ninjas who mitigated the problem in Ward 2 at some undetermined period of time in the past.”

Before pursuing a trapper, Zucker said he wanted to check with board members.

“I just wanted to hear if anyone would jump in front of the bus to stop the beaver trappers,” he said.

Alderman John Gotway [Ward 3] agreed that a trapper may be the best way to go right now.

Zucker noted that the trappers probably would not trap the animals and release them back into the Busch area.

“They sell beaver tails at Soulard Market [in St. Louis]. I don’t know why,” Zucker said. “Giant beaver tails.”

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