Craighead Forest Park becomes a buffet for beavers

Published: Dec. 31, 2013 at 11:35 PM CST
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JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) – Beavers have already turned a woodedarea 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 peskycritters.

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

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

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

So far, she has counted about 11 trees that beavers have whittleddown all around the park, but she has noticed the biggest concentration of themnear Pavilion 2. She worries that such a popular area for walkers and joggerscould 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, andit's a risk that there are kids running around. It's only going to take a smallbreeze to push them over."

The Jonesboro Parks Department has watched a few areas in thepark closely after noticing wood shavings and large gnaw marks on trees. WixsonHuffstetler, the parks director, said the park employees will monitor theproblem 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 buildinghuts and then reproducing. They do have some dens that are in the water that wecan'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 outthere in keeping the trails clean and watch the trees to make sure nothing isgoing to fall," he added, "so I feel safe that it's safe for the public outthere."

Huffstetler said he is unsure how the beavers got into the parkthis 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 CraigheadForest, that's what it's supposed to be," he said, "so I don't like to cut downtrees if we don't have to, but if they continue to chew them up then we'll haveto cut them down."

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

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

"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 lakelike that, you're going to have them."

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

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