Craighead Forest Park becomes a buffet for beavers - KAIT-Jonesboro, AR-News, weather, sports

Craighead Forest Park becomes a buffet for beavers

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JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) – Beavers have already turned a wooded area behind The Mall at Turtle Creek in Jonesboro into their own food court, and now Craighead Forest Park has apparently become a buffet for the pesky critters.

Park employees have already had to cut down a few trees this year after some beavers got the job started for them. Some walkers who come to the park regularly say they're worried now that even more trees might fall and hurt someone.

Bree Hayhoe, a three-year resident of Jonesboro, tries to walk her dogs around the park just about every day. Normally, she does not see a lot of wildlife except for the occasional deer, but last week she noticed where beavers have gnawed on a number of trees around the lake bank.

"These [trees] have been chewed on a lot more since I was here Sunday," Hayhoe said, "so I think if [the beavers] keep gnawing on these I think by the end of the week maybe you could see some of these – especially if it gets windy – are going to topple."

So far, she has counted about 11 trees that beavers have whittled down all around the park, but she has noticed the biggest concentration of them near Pavilion 2. She worries that such a popular area for walkers and joggers could become hazardous if the beavers chew on any more trees.

"There's no telling which way these [trees] could fall," Hayhoe said. "They could fall to the water. They could fall the other way, and it's a risk that there are kids running around. It's only going to take a small breeze to push them over."

The Jonesboro Parks Department has watched a few areas in the park closely after noticing wood shavings and large gnaw marks on trees. Wixson Huffstetler, the parks director, said the park employees will monitor the problem so that no one gets hurt.

"There are no beaver dams out there [on the water]," Huffstetler said. "We keep a close eye on that to make sure they're not building huts and then reproducing. They do have some dens that are in the water that we can't get to, but for the most part they haven't been a problem for us."

"[Park manager] Larry Jackson's done a really good job out there in keeping the trails clean and watch the trees to make sure nothing is going to fall," he added, "so I feel safe that it's safe for the public out there."

Huffstetler said he is unsure how the beavers got into the park this time. In the past they have had to hire people to trap the pesky animals, but he said there are no plans to do that right now.

"I try not to cut down trees obviously – it's Craighead Forest, that's what it's supposed to be," he said, "so I don't like to cut down trees if we don't have to, but if they continue to chew them up then we'll have to cut them down."

For Bree Hayhoe, she hopes the city will hire trappers to take away the beavers so that no more of the trees that she loves to walk amongst are damaged.

"The beavers have a right [to be here]," she said. "We've sort of cut their habitat down so far that they have a right to come to the park, but unfortunately with us people here, it's also dangerous for us as well."

"There's nothing we can do to prevent them from coming in [the park]," Huffstetler added. "It's part of nature, and when you have a lake like that, you're going to have them."

He said people should contact the Jonesboro Parks Department if they notice any problems with the trees in Craighead Forest Park so that the workers can resolve any issues quickly.

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