A grim end for a neighborhood beaver colony has been delayed.
On Friday, the property manager of the Briar Chapel neighborhood announced it will not move forward with a plan to trap about 35 beavers that have built several dams along Pokeberry Creek in the northern Chatham County community. Two days earlier, the community association board had voted to eradicate the beavers.
Garretson Browne, president of the Briar Chapel Community Association board of directors, said additional conversations with U.S. Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services officials had occurred since the vote to remove the rodents. Together, the neighborhood and Wildlife Services decided to explore other options with the beavers, he said.
"It's put us into a holding pattern until further options are discussed," Browne said.
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He didn't have those options on Saturday.
The association sent a statement to homeowners on Friday. It read:
The Briar Chapel Board of Directors acted in good faith and based on expert consultation from the US Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services, to manage the growing impact of beaver damage and flooding in our community. The board has investigated this issue over the past several months, and came to its conclusion only after significant due diligence was done on the options. The board would prefer other alternatives to manage this challenge, but they were presented with only one viable solution based on the significance of the situation. With that said, and understanding that no one, including the board, wants to see any wildlife harmed, we have communicated with the US Department of Agriculture and have discussed having additional consultation before any work is done.
--The Briar Chapel Community Association"
In previous discussions with Wildlife Services, Browne said, non-lethal alternatives like moving the beavers or managing the water levels behind the dams were deemed not viable. Wildlife Services recommended trapping and killing the beavers. Browne said the beavers became a problem about two months ago.
Homeowners rallied to the animals' defense.
Wayne Hadley, a Briar Chapel resident, started an online petition on change.org to save the beavers. Almost 1,300 had signed it by Thursday night. By Saturday morning, it was more than 3,700.
Stacey Donelan, another Briar Chapel resident, said many homeowners want to make sure the beavers are not killed.
"Briar Chapel's residents will keep up the pressure and protests until the BCCA BOD unquestionably confirm that killing the beaver population is irrevocably off the table," Donelan said in an email.
The trapping was to start within a month, Browne said. Now that is on hold.