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White Rock-area Residents Take Up Paint Brushes to Battle Tree-gnawing Beavers

White Rock-area Residents Take Up Paint Brushes to Battle Tree-gnawing Beavers

After whipping up a 20-gallon grayish concoction of paint and sand, a team of volunteers recently painted more than 40 trees scattered around two small lakes in a gated community east of White Rock Lake.

Their goal: to encourage resident beavers to find new homes. “

With White Rock Creek, we’’ve got the NAFTA superhighway for wildlife,” said Mark Leediker, president of the Enclave at White Rock Homeowners’ Association. Residents of the close-knit neighborhood regularly come together for lake cleanups. They enjoy sharing their space with area wildlife, which includes ducks, bobcats, coyotes and Canada geese. But when homeowners recently noticed piles of bark on the ground around the trees, it was obvious that a family of about four to six beavers had moved in and they decided something needed to be done. “

They didn’t lose any of their big, beautiful trees,” said Bonnie Bradshaw, president of the Plano-based 911 Wildlife, an organization dedicated to finding humane solutions for conflicts between humans and wildlife in the Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston areas.

HOA member Jim Fritz took on the role of researcher and came up with some possible solutions, including trapping to kill, trapping and relocating, and placing cylindrical cages around the trees. Another idea was to coat the trees with the paint and sand mixture, hoping the gritty consistency would discourage the flat-tailed critters from gnawing through them.

But the ideas didn’t come without possible drawbacks.

Beaver traps are large enough to cause serious injury and possibly death to small children and pets.

“It’s a lethal trap,” said Bradshaw. Trapping and relocating the nocturnal animals often only works short-term. “

No matter how many beavers you trap, there will be others that move in,” Bradshaw said.“That’s why beaver trappers make a killing, literally and figuratively.”

The HOA’s board members concluded that painting the trees was the safest, least expensive and most effective solution. “

We’’re trying to balance our existence with the wildlife,” Leediker said. “It’s our responsibility to keep things in balance and pass it on to the next generation.”

Painting the mixture onto the bottom four feet of trunks can protect trees for several years, Bradshaw said. “

It solves the problem, and it’s aesthetically neutral,” she said.

Leediker and his wife moved into the neighborhood more than seven years ago. He said he discovered the neighborhood while riding his motorcycle one day and fell in love with its landscape. He said he marvels at the variety of wildlife living in an area only six miles from downtown Dallas. “

It’’s Dallas’ best-kept secret,” resident Wesley Stevens chimed in.

Beavers, which can weigh up to 40 pounds, are often considered a nuisance in urban areas. The territorial creatures will kill other beavers that try to invade their turf. But Bradshaw said the dams they create can increase an area’s biodiversity by leading to more meadows, which, in turn, can attract songbirds and butterflies.

Beavers are “Mother Nature’s engineer,” said Marcus Stephens, who works for 911 Wildlife and helped plan the tree-painting project. About $700 and two hours later, the job was completed. The 20 volunteers, ranging in age from 8 to nearly 80, headed home.