Mary had a little lamb,
Its fleece was white as snow;
And everywhere that Mary went
The lamb was sure to go.
Mary had a little lamb. It was probably the first song you played on the plastic recorder in third grade. Did you know the original poem was written by the author and editor Sarah Jopsepha Hale about the real child Mary Sawyer who lived in Stirling Massachusetts? Supposedly the little girl really did bring her lamb to school one day and it really did make the children laugh and play (which of course children would never do normally). Later Sarah also published one of the first novels against slavery, and was famous for writing that while slavery dehumanizes the enslaved, it also dehumanizes their masters and retards national progress. Good point!
Flash forward 180 years and apparently they can tolerate lambs in educational facilities in Stirling, just not beavers in creeks.
But even with a less intrusive easement, there is still the matter of the beavers.
The selectmen agreed that, although there has not yet been any committed interest from a prospective buyer, the flooding caused by the beaver dam decreases the value of the property and that the dam must be broken and the land dried up before the parcel can be sold.
“You can’t trap and relocate beavers because they are a nuisance animal,” said Szlosek. “There is no place to put them. Nobody wants to kill the animals [but] the beaver population in Massachusetts has exploded over the last 10 or 15 years. What else can you do? They’ll continue to breed and they’ll flood more land.”
Because of the restrictions on lethal trapping, the animal control department is not able to preside over this matter. The town of Sterling will need to seek out a private company that can provide the trapping service.
“There was a referendum banning almost all trapping in Massachusetts so you really have to go through a lot of hoops to be able to do it,” said Szlosek. “Obviously, we will have to observe that.”
According to Szlosek, the season during which permits can be granted to trap beavers is between Nov. 1 and April 15. During the off season, appeals can be made to the Board of Health and a permit can be issued if the presence of the beaver dam demonstrates an impingement on personal or environmental safety.
“They’re relatively harmless creatures except that they can cause a lot of damage to properties,” said Szlosek. “They’re indirectly destructive to other species because they destroy their habitats.”
Destructive to other species because they destroy their habitats. Just pause a moment and let that sink to its full outrageous effect. Beavers destroy habitat. I obviously have been lying to you all these years and misleading the children at the beaver festival. We really should be doing an Demolition Beaver bracelet activity and teaching how they ruin things for fish and wildlife.
Mr. Szlosek gets a letter. And maybe a poem.
Stirling had a beaver dam
The babbling brook was stilled
Szoslek wants the dam removed
And all the beavers killed
The fish will have to go away
the muskrat, otter, mink
And all the birds that hunted there
go missing with the link.