Near the beginning of the 1900s, beavers were nearly eradicated from North Carolina. With increased regulations, the animals have since returned to most of the state's watersheds. Beavers are unique in their ability to modify the environment for their own needs by constructing sturdy dams of sticks, leaves, and mud.
Beaver dams store moisture and create complex wetlands that can sustain diverse flora and fauna for a host of other wildlife species such as waterfowl. The dams usually improve downstream water quality by allowing sediment and other pollutants to settle out.
Occasionally, the damming of culverts or portions of creeks and tributaries may cause flooding in residential and agricultural areas. The town of Plymouth in Washington County has been experiencing flooding due to beaver dams after significant rainfall in the past month.
Washington County Manager Curtis Potter said:
The county has seen a significant increase in beaver dams which are interfering with the natural flow of water and drainage in the area. There are a lot of beavers in Eastern North Carolina and in Washington County. This is absolutely a problem that has been around for a long time and will probably continue to be a challenge in the future.
The county conducted several controlled explosions to destroy beaver dams this week.
The North Carolina Beaver Management Assistance Program has been using precise explosions to remove beaver dams for many years. Jon Heisterberg of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Wildlife Services said:
One thing people always might have a misconception about is that beavers live in the dam. They don’t. They just build the dam to flood water behind the dam. That’s where they put their lodges.
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