Fearing floods, Prospect Heights removing beavers, dam from creek
Prospect Heights is removing at least two beavers and the dam they've built on McDonald Creek in a local park because of concerns about flooding.
The decision is drawing criticism from some members of the city's natural resource commission and highlights the problems that many suburbs contend with when wildlife and people try to coexist.
The beavers built their dam where the creek flows through Somerset Park, north of Palatine Road and east of Schoenbeck Road. Along the creek, trees have been thinned out while others remain gnawed by the teeth of the broadtail rodent.
Trapping the beavers alive is not an option because they typically do not survive relocation, according to the University of Illinois extension.
"I'm really sad about it, but it's a done deal for now," Agnes Wojnarski, chairwoman of the natural resources commission, said during a meeting last week.
For several months, city public works crews have been removing the beavers' dam, but each time the animals rebuilt, officials said. Finally, the city hired a company to trap and remove the beavers. Once they're gone, the city will remove the dam a final time.
"Due to the nature of where they're located, there's just no way they could stay there and not negatively impact residents," said Peter Falcone, assistant to the city administrator.
Beavers may be trapped and removed from an urban area if a removal permit is issued by the Department of Natural Resources, according to the University of Illinois extension. In rural areas, a trapping license is needed to harvest beavers between November and March.
Seth Marcus, another member of the natural resource commission, said during the meeting that the city could have studied other solutions such as installing pipes under the dam to allow water through or trapping and sterilizing the beavers before returning them to the site to prevent others from moving in.
"The point is that there are solutions that may or may not win the discussion of the day, but it would be nice to at least be consulted before," Marcus said.
However, the city is concerned that the dam could cause flooding upstream or become dislodged during a major storm and block drainage pipes, Falcone said.
"I would love to coexist with the beavers, but it's not feasible," Falcone said.