August 3, 2011 —
A pesky family of “very sly” beavers has caused headaches and heartache for a resident of Fosterdale.
Susan Komosky has been dealing with beavers since April when, according to the National Weather Center in Binghamton, the region received 7.5 inches of rain, which is about double on average what the area normally receives during that month.
The beavers are indifferent to the desire of the humans in the neighborhood who want to keep a culvert there unclogged, and they keep rebuilding their dam right at the mouth the culvert. One beaver has been shot and another wounded, but the animals continue to work on their dam whenever they know people are not around.
Because of the animal’s persistence, Komosky said, “The quote ‘work like a beaver’ is an understatement.” Even after a metal gate was placed at the entrance of the culvert, people have had to continuously destroy the dams and pull eight-foot branches from the three-foot piles of mud that the beavers had created.
Komosky’s neighbor, Doug Winters, owns the property where the culvert is located. At one point the dam raised the water so high that his driveway washed out. It also flooded a shed on Komosky’s property that was filled with antiques.
When the ordeal first began, Komosky called the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) in New Paltz and got a nuisance permit, which enabled her to kill a limited number beavers. Part of Komosky’s problem though is that she does not know how many beavers there are.
Kelly Stang, a Wildlife Biologist in the DEC’s Albany office, said the animals are killed because it is illegal to move wildlife. By moving the animals, people are creating another problem for someone else. She also said that there is the possibility of transferring diseases and ticks if wildlife were to be moved to another location.
Further, Stang said studies show that animals that have been moved often die because they try to go back to their original location. Plus, they may die because they are put in a strange area and do not know where to find food and water. There is also the possibility that animals already existing in the area may be territorial and cause harm to the newcomer.
Devastated by the damage, which she estimated to be worth $10,000, Komosky called the entire fiasco a “very, very educational experience.” She is mostly saddened by the loss of the family antiques that were in the shed. Komosky said that at one point, the shed was under four feet of water.
She said initially Winters did not want to do anything because he did not realize what the beavers were capable of. She said, “The ideology of leave Mother Nature alone has cost thousands. It’s really terrible.” But she added, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”
Komosky’s insurance does not cover the flood damages. “When do you anticipate beavers and flooding?” she asked.
Komosky said she has decided she is not going to take Winters to court because the damage is already done and she would likely only get enough money to replace the shed, not the antiques inside.
Winters declined to comment for this story.
In 2009, the DEC issued 2,104 nuisance permits for beavers because of problems with flooding roads and chewing up landscape trees. The DEC estimates that there are between 60,000 to 80,000 beavers in New York State.