Bruce Benz recently reported that there were tree thieves at Possum Kingdom Lake.
“In the past two weeks, and potentially over the last two years, I have had ash trees cut and removed from my property,” said Benz. “A total of eight ash trees, to be exact.”
Benz reported the theft on Friday, March 14, to the Palo Pinto County Sheriff’s Office, and a deputy was dispatched to the scene. He was told by the sheriff’s field deputy, Linda Lusk, that the theft was probably a felony offense.
“Lusk said the trees at the scene of the crime appeared to have been hatcheted low on their trunks,” according to Palo Pinto County Chief Deputy Mike Sudderth, “she followed the trail of leaves and twigs that had left a diminishing trail leading to Benz’s boat dock but found nothing of significance.”
Benz reasoned that the thieves must have been of a four-legged nature and that was the only thing that would make sense.
“Last year I had seen what I thought to be a rather large beaver.” Benz said. “It was at least 20 inches tall, 2 feet long, without the tail, or at least 3 feet long, with the tail.”
He said he was certain that beavers must be the culprits, and they were probably making their lodge, using his ash trees, somewhere underneath his neighbor’s boat dock, since his dock is now out of the water.
Benz said he walked down to his neighbor’s boat dock and took a look around, and “sure enough, there were some of the branches from his ash trees next to the dock.”
What can one do when such a thing happens? According to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, the only practical solution to such a problem would be to destroy the animal or live-trap them and move them to a suitable location.
Yet, TPWD has rules and regulations concerning either of those solutions.
• Landowners or their agents may take nuisance fur-bearing animals in any number by any means at any time on that person’s land without the need for a hunting or trapping license. However, fur-bearing animals or their pelts taken for these purposes may not be retained or possessed by anyone at any time except licensed trappers during the lawful open season and possession periods.
• Nuisance fur-bearing animals may be captured and relocated if the person has received authorization from the department and the owner of the property where the release will occur. A monthly report is required and must be submitted to the department on the number and kind of fur-bearers captured, and the location of the release site, and the name and address of the person authorized to release.
It appears that Benz is not the only one who has had a problem with beavers at PK Lake. After speaking with several other people in the community, he was informed that the beavers had most likely been the culprits that had struck at The Harbor.
Benz said he was told that they had planted bald cypress trees there, and most of the trees had fallen victim to beavers.
“I spoke to one of the maintenance workers at The Harbor and they were going to hire a trapper at an expense of around $200 per beaver, but I don’t know whether or not they actually did that,” Benz said
“I have wrapped my 10 remaining ash trees at the base with 3-foot high sections of welded wire,” Benz said, opting for an alternate solution, “and I will be closely watching to see if I can spot those beavers.”
Upon further investigation, Ken Whitten, with The Harbor, said, “We did have a similar problem with beavers a few years back, probably 2010, and we lost eight or so bald cypress trees. The problem was not so much occurring around the lake area, but in the fishing hole ponds. We called in a trapper and he removed five or six beavers at a cost of between $150 - $200 each, and we have not since had a problem.”