RUMFORD — A perennial problem with an industrious family of beavers took a turn for the worse after the toothy rodents one-upped town and state crews by flooding a recreational trail, forcing riders onto Route 2.
They also created something of a public health hazard. The beavers’ impoundment near Prospect Avenue has created a breeding ground for mosquitoes.
After receiving complaints on June 27 from Prospect Avenue residents fed up with excessive mosquito bites and the town’s and state’s inability to correct the problem, interim Town Manager Len Greaney surveyed the beaver backwater on June 28.
No stranger to resolving nuisance beaver problems, Greaney developed a plan of attack with help from the Maine Department of Transportation and the Maine Warden Service.
He also tapped District 14 Sen. Bruce Bryant, D-Canton, for assistance, but said Tuesday afternoon that he has yet to hear from any official.
“With the understanding that the four-wheeler/snowmobile-trail bridge is under water, it raises the ante to resolve the beaver dam problem,” Greaney said.
That trail is the Route 17 north snowmobile trail, which is used in the summer by all-terrain vehicle riders, hikers and mountain bikers.
“A major recreational trail is unusable (and) our Rumford citizens are presented with a potential health problem without a reasonable method to disperse/eliminate the insects,” Greaney said.
This year, Prospect Avenue resident Jerry Arsenault took matters into his own hands. His property is nearest to the ineffectively fenced culvert under Route 2 and borders the 3-feet-deep beaver pond and mosquito hole.
The 70-year-old said late Tuesday afternoon that he bought a 16-gallon pump and sprays pesticide every other week on 15 to 20 feet of his property.
“I have to or else we couldn’t live here,” Arsenault said.
Both Greaney and Arsenault said Rumford workers cleared a beaver dam from the culvert in 2006 and placed screens at its ends to prevent entry.
This year, the beavers circumvented that by damming the Route 17 north wooden bridge spanning a brook on the other side of the highway that drains into the Androscoggin River. That, in turn, raised water levels, flooding the trail bridge, the trail and several hundred feet of woods and low-lying land on both sides of the highway.
It also enabled the beavers to swim over the culvert fence, a section of which Greaney claims the beavers pulled down.
“We found that the screen at the culvert had been manipulated by the beavers to allow their free entry and exit through the culvert to bring trees to their dam at the other side of Route 2. Beavers are pretty heavy. They could pull the screen down,” he said.
Arsenault, however, attributes the bent fencing section to the weight of ice from this past winter.
Normally, the area floods when the Androscoggin River rises with heavy rain over its watershed. Now, the river level is lower than the beaver-caused pond.
Greaney has recommended that the state build and install a grid-type screen in either end of the culvert to deny beaver entrance from the river. He has also asked the Maine Warden Service to assign a warden to trap and remove the offending beaver family.
“I also complained (in 2006) about possible health problems, but this is ridiculous. They ought to get permits and get the beavers out of here,” Arsenault said.
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