Al Morey says there’s “one heck of a nuisance” on Lake Wylie, and he isn’t sure anyone is doing anything about it.
Lakefront resident Ed Lindsey wants to do something about it.
“We’ve had beavers for a while, but they’ve always kind of been in the water,” Lindsey said. “They’ve never done any damage.”
Until now. Lindsey had three small plum trees taken down on his property, and six larger trees. A neighbor lost a couple more trees, he said.
“They would chew the bark all around a tree,” Lindsey said. “They’re really destructive.”
Morey works at Clawson’s Pile Driving & Construction. He estimates he has seen 80 or 90 trees in a 10-mile area with beaver damage.
“Lately what I’ve been seeing is they’ve been coming out in broad daylight,” Morey said.
The most extreme damage he has seen has been in Crowders Creek, Morey said. He’s seen five or six dams from the island beneath the S.C. 274 bridge, upstream.
He’s had beavers swim between himself and a friend as they were kayaking in the area, and splashing him while he works near the water.
He said he believes beaver spottingis on the increase the past couple of years.
“I think because nobody is hunting them,” he said. “They don’t have any predators here.”
Damage can be costly. While buffers require people to leave trees near the lake with a trunk circumference of 4.5 inches or greater, beavers are taking down trees with a circumference of as much as 18 to 24 inches.
The crews then have to come into the buffer around the lake to remove the large trees. Morey said he has brought down 40 trees the past two years after beavers chewed through them.
“That tree is dead,” Morey said.
Then there are other structures on the water.
“I’ve torn down two boathouses now that had beaver dens in them and were weighing the boats down,” Morey said.
Lindsey said he contacted wildlife officers and then, on their recommendation, shot two beavers near his home.
The state Department of Natural Resources allows year-round hunting of beaver with a license. Free depredation permits can be obtained to shoot beavers without a license, or at night. A resident can shoot or trap a beaver within 100 feet of his or her residence without any license or permit.
Trapping season is Dec. 1 to March 1, though property owners can get a free depredation permit to trap any time. Relocation of a live beaver is illegal.
The DNR also provides a list of people who will trap beaver for a fee.
Nonlethal options for beaver management include water flow control devices and wire barriers or fencing around trees to prevent gnawing. The state department also provides information on those routes.
According to the state, a beaver colony can be as large as 20 to 30 acres. They help produce habitat for waterfowl, fish, reptiles, amphibians and furbearers such as minks and otters.
The wood duck, which nests in large numbers in South Carolina, often is attracted to beaver ponds. Beavers are located in every county in South Carolina.
Timber and crops such as corn and soybeans are particularly vulnerable to beavers, either due to cutting or flooding damage. Beavers can also obstruct pipes under roads and railroad beds.
For more information, visit dnr.sc.gov.