SAMPSON COUNTY, N.C. — The U.S. Wildlife Service estimates beavers will do millions of dollars worth of damage in North Carolina this year.
Since its reintroduction to North Carolina in 1939, the beaver population has grown to at least 500,000 with the Piedmont the most heavily populated.
The N.C. Beaver Management Assistance Program helps counties safely reduce the number of beavers, but Sampson County leaders are taking the program one step further with a bounty on beavers.
Ronnie Thompson is a professional trapper. It is work he has done all his life. He said right now, there are more beavers than he can catch.
"They're everywhere. You can ride up and down on any road in Sampson County and Wayne County and every feeder creek near the side of the road you can see a beaver problem," he said.
That's why Sampson County commissioners voted to place a bounty on beavers. Licensed trappers get $10 for every beaver they catch. The county hired Thompson to catch as many as he can.
The beavers are causing a lot of serious problems by building dams, which flood roads and millions of dollars in timberland.
Johnny Dudley called Thompson to trap beavers on his property.
"The beavers are so thick in here they're backing the water up, stopping the creek up on us. You can see the timber dying in the background," Dudley said. "I enjoy seeing the beavers swim around out there and come by, but they are doing so much damage. I enjoy all kinds of wildlife, but they are just doing so much damage to our property."
Thompson traps more than 400 beavers a year, but he said even that is not enough.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA, said it believes a bounty is a cruel and ineffective way to control beavers.