This commemorative tree is among several damaged by beavers on Memorial Hill Grove off the Amherst Bike Path. Beaver damage to trees has been on the rise due to this season’s dry weather, which causes the animals to build more dams.

The Town Board meeting will be held at 3:00 pm today rather than tonight.  How to deal with the beaver problem will be a topic of great interest.

Some commemorative trees standing along the Ellicott Creek Trailway are sporting skinny waistlines these days – if they’re standing at all – thanks to some busy beavers who are now in the cross hairs of the Town of Amherst.

The town began setting traps a few weeks ago to capture and kill the critters, a long-standing but not well-known practice that waxes and wanes depending on weather conditions. In wetter seasons, the dams built by beavers can lead to flooding damage. In drier years, like this one, the beavers have to create more dams, which means more tree damage.

This year, the beavers chose some high-profile timber for their work.

In 2010, the most recent year for which data is available, the state Department of Environmental Conservation issued 53 nuisance wildlife damage permits to private individuals and municipalities in Erie County. Those permits resulted in the death of 112 beavers responsible for causing damage to property or blocking waterways, said Mark Kandel, the DEC’s regional wildlife manager for Region 9, which covers six Western New York counties.

Kandel said, “Actually become asphyxiated while they’re underwater. They’ll just hold their breath so long until they pass out and die. That’s permitted under the law. And that’s actually the preferred way to do it.”
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