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Park City Municipal Will Euthanize Trapped Beaver: Flooding And Damage From Dams On Poison Creek

Kim Frye

Park City public works has hired a trapping service to capture and euthanize a couple of beaver that have built dams on the stream along the Rail Trail. Residents have complained to the city that the back up of water from a couple beaver dams is causing flooding and property damage.

Residents living on Cochise Court contacted Park City a couple of weeks ago because water from the beaver ponds was backing up into their crawlspaces. Park City Public Works Director, Troy Dayley says they’ve been dismantling, by hand, two dams every day for the past two weeks. He says usually at the end of summer, the pups are thrown out of their impoundments to live on their own. After multiple efforts to dismantle the dams, they were hoping the beaver would move down stream, east of the neighborhood.

“We’ll tear the dam out, or breech the dam, see if it’s rebuilt, and if it is, we’ll try to remove the whole dam and see if we can discourage the beaver from taking up home there and see if we can push him out. And we’ve been successful. We’ve been successful and we haven’t had to trap for a number of years. The tough part is, you tear it down and then they go into people’s yards and start cutting their trees down and we try to discourage them. And that’s the downside of pulling the dams out."

Dayley says they follow a protocol when it’s been determined that they must remove a beaver. He says it’s a tough part of his job because they’ll use a live trap to capture the animal then have it euthanized. 
They use devices called pond levelers on McCloud Creek to encourage beaver habitat and dam building but Dayley says the ponds close to town on Poison Creek along the Rail Trail are too shallow.

“On McCleod Creek, we have 13 pond levelers and these pond levelers are constructed to where the beavers will build a dam and we put a pond leveler in, and they quit building, so they don’t make it bigger and bigger. And the beaver does well, and we’ve been successful at those.”

They use a live trap, so no other animals or people are hurt. According to Dayley, catching the beaver and euthanizing it is the last resort.

“It’s too late in the year and it would be inhumane to, in my opinion, and I’m not an expert, but to relocate a beaver somewhere even if we could identify a place and expect it to build a dam, build a hut and create the food needed to survive through the winter. And you know they’ll stash the food source throughout the summer, and they’ll eat on it through the winter.”

Dayley says they believe there are just two juvenile beaver causing the water back up and they’ll try first to remove one and see if the water levels drop. He says one of the homeowners tried to discourage the nighttime dam building by installing motion sensor lights. When that didn’t work, Dayley says they contacted the City Manager who initiated the protocol they use to remove the beaver.

He recommends using commercial contractors to remove other animals such as skunks and racoons. And if it’s large game, the DWR should be contacted. The Public Works Department is handling the beaver damage because they’re responsible for the Poison Creek waterway.  He wants people to know the city is not trying to eradicate the beaver population along the Rail Trail. Once they are able to drop the water level, they’ll stop trapping. 

KPCW reporter Carolyn Murray covers Summit and Wasatch County School Districts. She also reports on wildlife and environmental stories, along with breaking news. Carolyn has been in town since the mid ‘80s and raised two daughters in Park City.