Casco battles beavers plugging up culverts

By Dawn De Busk

Staff Writer

CASCO — The town has been busy as a beaver trying to outwit the beavers that have been culprits when it comes to culverts.

It seems once a beaver sets its sights on a spot that would make a nice home, it is an ongoing skirmish around the culverts.

The town’s culverts often get converted into beaver dams, according to Casco Town Manager Dave Morton.

While live-trapping is an option to relocate a troublesome family of beavers, the real cost comes from paying a heavy equipment operator to remove the debris and open up the water flow through a culvert, he said.

“A beaver can plug it back up in 2½ days.

It is amazing what they can do. But it creates a headache for the road commissioner,” Morton said.

Beavers weren’t exactly on the agenda during the Casco Board of Selectmen meeting, however the impact on the town’s infrastructure brought the topic to the surface.

Selectman Grant Plummer asked about it toward the end of Tuesday night’s meeting.

“This fall, we have been battling the beaver population,” Plummer said. “What is our battle plan?”

The town’s approach is to live-trap the beavers or put out the word during the state’s beaver trapping season, Morton said.

“We trap them. Earlier in the year, we live-trap them. The traps are large; and we have to not put them anywhere children could get near. They are large clam shell traps,” he said.

“You have to have the landowner’s permission. If the landowner won’t grant permission, you cannot do that,” he said.

The town manager provided a list of the areas often hit by these ecological engineers.

“We spent time last year on the Heath,” which is near Thompson Lake Marina, Morton said.

“We have three around Point Sebago Road. Usually, there’s some on Leach Hill Road,” adding the later spot was beaver-free this summer.

“About every second or third year, they plug the culvert between Pleasant Lake and Parker Pond,” Morton said, adding that was an issue this summer.

“There was a 21-inch difference between the two lakes. It was a big track of water,” he said.

Chairman Holly Hancock agreed.

“You could have surfed on it” when the water starting flowing again once the debris was removed, she said.

“Some property owners on Parker Pond asked why we were allowing the water level to be so high. I said, ‘We aren’t. It is the furry little guys,’ ” Hancock said.

Morton said, “They are fun for people to look at. But, it’s extremely expensive when they plug the culvert.”

Plummer asked for a cost estimate associated with the beaver dam battle.

“We have used an excavator or a logging truck. For an excavator to be there for an hour is about $600. And a logging truck is less, about $200,” Morton said.

Plummer said the reason he asked about the plugged culverts is that the town “spent considerable money on replacing and sleeving the culverts. I am just trying to protect our investment.”

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