New Haven Register (New Haven, CT)
Man denies ‘blowing up’ beaver dam in flooding battle
OLD LYME — Dave Berggren’s battle with the beavers of Black Hall Pond has gone on for more than three years and he says it’s time for reinforcements to arrive.
The 83-year-old says the critters are to blame for the rising water in the pond, which has slowly flooded portions of his yard and is threatening the foundation of his home. For years, he said, he regularly trekked onto the nearby Jericho Preserve to tear away at the beavers’ dams, only to watch them built back in a matter of days.
Finally last year, Berggren said the beavers appeared to give up, retreating farther into the swamp that drains the pond. But without additional help from town officials and the preserve’s owners to rout the beavers once and for all, Berggren says he fears the victory may be short lived.
“We’re just kind of waiting for something to boil up,” Berggren said from his home this week. “I’ve paid and worked on this property all my life, and they’re destroying it for some rodent.”
The years-long effort to eradicate the beavers has also escalated tensions between Berggren and local officials, he and a former neighbor said.
As a result of his longrunning and well-publicized effort to eradicate the beavers, Berggren said rumors have swirled that he is behind the destruction of a beaver dam that was recently “blown up,” downstream from his house, near Interstate 95. Berggren said he was not involved, and does not know who is responsible.
His former neighbor, Lee Detwiler, said she heard after the dam was destroyed there were seven dead beavers lined up along the roadway. Detwiler, who lives in Philadelphia but returns monthly to help Berggren around the house, also said she did not know who destroyed the dam.
“It’s now become this fight,” she said. “It’s been ugly.”
Officials in Old Lyme, however, questioned the veracity of the reports of someone “blowing up” a dam. The town’s animal control officer, Lynn Philemon, said she had not received reports about beavers being killed or a dam being blown up, though she said she would check with other officials.
“I think I heard about some dead beavers, but I didn’t hear about any explosives,” First Selectman Tim Griswold said.
Will Healey, a spokesperson for the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, said in an email that the agency has not received reports of an explosion or illegal killing of beavers, the trapping of which is regulated along with other furbearers.
He said the agency’s Wildlife Division is “aware of the area, and that it has routinely had problems with beavers.”
Representatives of the town and the Old Lyme Land Trust, which owns the preserve, said they’ve taken steps to mitigate any potential damage to property caused by beavers, including removing dams and trapping the animals.
In a statement sent Thursday to Hearst Connecticut Media, Land Trust Secretary Lea Harty said the organization’s recent efforts included obtaining a permit from the Inland Wetlands Commission last summer to breach one of the dams on its property, but discovered it had already been taken out by an unknown “trespasser.”
Harty said the dam has since not been re-built and the land trust has hired a trapper to remove several of the animals. Other methods of controlling dambuilding, such as building structures known as “beaver deceivers” were determined to be ill-suited for the area, she said.
“That said, we have not had any recent contacts from property owners on [Black Hall] Pond about concerns relating to beavers, which may be on the Jericho Preserve,” Harty said.