Local News

Chatham County residents protest HOA decision to kill 35 beavers

Posted April 22, 2018 7:12 a.m. EDT
Updated July 13, 2018 11:15 a.m. EDT

— Chatham County residents gathered Saturday in protest of the homeowners association's recent vote to kill more than two dozen beavers.

On its website, the Briar Chapel neighborhood, south of Chapel Hill, bills itself as a more natural habitat for wildlife, but the HOA wants to kill the beavers living in Pokeberry creek, which is on the property.

"Anything that's natural can be a nuisance," said Jessica Walden-Gray, who lives in the neighborhood.

For Walden-Gray and her family, the beavers are more a marvel than a nuisance.

Pam Schaecher agrees.

"They're part of the ecosystem. All these animals need a place to live. We can't just keep exterminating them and building and pushing them into nowhere," she said.

Garretson Browne, the HOA president, said he stands behind the decision to get rid of the animals. He said their dams have caused the creek to wash over pedestrian bridges and flood a cul-de-sac.

The community has signed a contract for the U.S. Department of Agriculture to trap and kill about 35 beavers.

"They are part of the ecosystem, but you have to look at the ecosystem in its entirety," Browne said.

In North Carolina, it is against state law to relocate the animals because the state considers them to be a nuisance rodent.

"We've got to protect these assets. I mean, there's a financial component we've got to look at," Browne said. "This bridge is worth $100,000, and should this fail, that's a significant cost to the association."

He says a USDA consultant advised that non-lethal methods were just not practical, that the community is overpopulated.

"I'm really disappointed," Walden-Gray said. "I bought a house in this neighborhood because of their commitment to conserve and maintain wild spaces."

Browne said the trapping will be done by USDA professionals, and the work could begin as early as next week.