By Nancy Allen
Grand Lake St. Marys State Park will allow beaver trapping on some areas of state park land between Dec. 26 through Feb. 28.
Assistant Park Manager Brian Miller said park officials decided to open the state park to beaver trapping due to an increased number of residents complaining about trees damaged by the rodents. The last time beaver trapping was allowed in the state park was three years ago, he said.
"The beavers come up into their yards at night and take the bark off the outside of trees and even chew it to the point that it falls down," Miller said, adding that park officials began receiving complaints in November.
Each fall the park manager and state officials determine if beaver trapping will be allowed.
The entire park will not be open, so prospective trappers will need to contact the park office at 419-394-3611 or visit the park office at 834 Edgewater Drive, St. Marys, to obtain a map of allowable trapping areas. All who want to trap beaver must have a valid 2005-2006 fur taker permit.
Dave Kohler, wildlife management supervisor with the Ohio Division of Wildlife's district 5 office in Xenia, said Grand Lake's beavers likely arrived by swimming down tributaries that flow into the lake.
Kohler said beavers are good for wildlife on one hand, but a nuisance to landowners.
"Beavers are very beneficial for wildlife, especially for wetland species. They dam up streams and provide a lot of wetland habitat," he said. "But on the other end of the spectrum, they can create problems for landowners by the very same process."
Kohler said the Division of Wildlife provides information to landowners to minimize beaver and human conflicts and will issue out-of-season hunting permits to landowners that allow them to trap nuisance beavers on their land.
The beaver is North America's largest rodent and is found in more than half of all of Ohio's counties, information from the Ohio Division of Wildlife states. Beavers have oversized lungs that allow them to stay underwater for up to 15 minutes.
They construct dams made of sticks and mud. An average beaver dam is three to four feet high and 50 to 200 feet long. One of the largest beaver dams in Ohio is in Columbiana County. It measures 1,200 feet long.