Wildlife Watch: Baffling beavers

Published: Sep. 18, 2018 at 4:01 PM EDT
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Rick Cloutier works the roads in the town of Panton.

"Beavers have been building dams and we end up getting big holes in the road and we are worried about cars falling into them," Cloutier said. "It costs a fair amount... We are down here at least two or three times a month."

That is where the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department has stepped in to help Panton with its beaver problem.

"The population is expanding and they go into places where it's not really conducive to have them because of the flooding that they create to roads, to septic systems, to wells," Kim Royar said.

Kim Royar and Tyler Brown are furbearer specialists for Vermont Fish and Wildlife.

"Beavers will respond to running water and will build a dam. A family of beaver can build a 35-foot dam in a week. You know, they are busy as beavers. I joke 'cause they have the brain the size of a pingpong ball and yet they outsmart us quite frequently," Royar said.

At one site in Panton, they are creating a beaver baffle to help maintain the wetlands and resolve human conflicts.

"We put the tube in the notch and the beaver will hopefully not be able to figure out how that water is getting across that dam. Therefore, when we get high water levels, the water can still get through the damn without actually impacting the road and the beaver will stay here hopefully," Royar said.

Fish and Wildlife says they've built almost 300 of these around the state. Volunteers and the state pay for everything except the cost of the materials. The landowner or town must buy those.

Reporter Ike Bendavid: Is this really going to help at the end of the day?

Kim Royar: We certainly hope so.

So off we went. I was even asked to help with the project! The first thing we did was clear the current dam so there would be room for the baffle. Then we checked the best place to put the baffle. After finding the best location, we put together the baffle before we put it in the water. Slowly connecting the pipes, it was time put the baffle in the water. Once the baffle started to come together, we continued to attach the piping with couplers to extend the baffle out so it can reach through the water-- which was not an easy task.

Now that the baffle is together and in the water, it's up to the beavers to do their part.

"The sound of this running water drives beavers crazy. It's kind of what gets them to build dams. So when they come back tonight, this afternoon, they are going to repair this dam. But hopefully, by adding this extra two lengths of pipe, we will be able to get the outlet underwater and they won't be able to hear it," Tyler Brown said.

After a hard day's work, we gave the beavers a head start by helping them create the dam. But with the baffle underwater, water should still be flowing and keeping the roads and the beavers happy.

"I think this is going to work perfect," Brown said.