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Beaver Eradication Contract continued by County Commissioner board

Posted on Thursday, February 1, 2024 at 2:08 pm

LACIE SILVA – Editor

The County Commissioner engaged in a heated discussion during the session regarding the Beaver Eradication Contract, with contentious points about the necessity, cost, and overall effectiveness of the contract.

Commissioner Gene Hargis brought attention to the removal of almost 100 beavers in the area this season, pointing out the necessity to remove these creatures and their dams to prevent water blockages.

Concerns were raised about the recurring beaver population. It was highlighted that despite the eradication efforts, the creatures tend to re-emerge and rebuild their dams come the spring season.

Commissioner Steven Franklin questioned the continued need for the expensive eradication program, expressing concern and skepticism about the use of taxpayer funds for use on private property. He questioned the high cost of the contract and emphasized the need for a significant return on investment. Commissioner Franklin made it a point to address the audience and viewers on Facebook live that, “I’m not knocking the gentleman who does this, I think he’s doing a great job and that’s (the cost) up to him.”

Franklin also addressed his issue with the use of the taxpayer funds to cross private property to remove the beavers and suggested that if the current conditions persist, action should be taken regarding the deer and mole populations in the area. He further reflected that when the board initially passed the budget for the Beaver Eradication Contract “the numbers were ‘oh we’ve got a million beavers, out here.’ I remember that. Well then how come we’ve only got 94 so far in the year?”

Debates ensued, prompting various suggestions. Commissioner Peggy Thompson suggested enacting a monthly provision within the contract, to which Attorney William Gouger Jr. explained the contractors would have to accept the changes as part of the renewal. Attorney Gouger also clarified that bodies of water are considered state property, examples include beaches, rivers, and streams, and as such the usage of taxpayer money is not utilized for private property use. It is regulated to accommodate the law, however, as Attorney Gouger pointed out the contractors often have no choice but to cross private property to access such bodies of water in places that wildlife reside such as the beavers of this topic.

During the discussions, local farmer Randy Gilliam spoke in favor of the beaver contractor’s services. He highlighted the substantial threat posed by beavers to the local ecosystem, particularly oak trees, underlining the financial loss incurred by the destruction of these resources. Gilliam further expressed that other things can be done for deer and moles in the area but that beavers pose a significant issue. “$300 is minute,” Gilliam reinforced to the board.

Following the deliberations, a motion was made to approve the Beaver Eradication Contract. It passed with a nine to four vote, signifying the approval for the continued implementation of the eradication program.

The Marion Tribune – November 9, 2023