Shelton officials ask public's help to find those who destroyed beaver dam

SHELTON — The beaver dam at Boehm Pond — an attraction for walkers along the path for the past few years — has been removed, and city officials are asking the public’s help to identify those responsible. 

A couple years ago, a colony of beavers had dammed Boehm Brook just before it flows under Winthrop Woods Road, which resulted in the water level rising an estimated 4 feet, according to Bill Dyer,  chair of the Shelton Trails Committee.

Boehm Pond, which had been less than an acre in size, grew to some 6 acres. 

But in mid-December, individuals, using heavy equipment, removed the guardrail along the street and removed the dam, which led to a significant draining of the pond and an angry stream of resident comments on social media. 

“We still don't know who destroyed the beaver dam at Boehm Pond with heavy equipment, or what happened to the beaver,” said Teresa Gallagher, the city’s natural resource manager. “The pond is surrounded by protected conservation lands and there were no reports of human structures being impacted.” 

Gallagher, who posted before and after photos on the Shelton Trails Committee website, said no city department was involved in the dam’s destruction.  

"It looks to me like someone removed a section of the steel guardrail, cut down some saplings and drove in a machine like a front loader to remove a section of the dam,” said Dyer. 

“It was a big operation,” Gallagher said about the dam removal. 

Dyer said this allowed the water to rush out, carrying some of the dam downstream. 

“I heard that someone on Huntington Street reported an injured beaver on their property and animal rescue came and took it away,” Dyer added. “That is a ways from Boehm Pond, but it is downstream.” 

Dyer said the beaver colony had been there since about 2018, and the beavers’ work did not impact any nearby private property. 

Dyer said there were many small trees that had been cut down by the beavers. The pond covered essentially all the formally swampy area north of Winthrop Woods Road. 

The beavers’ work is protected, according to Dyer, as per state law regarding beavers, which says that their dams should not be destroyed and the animals relocated unless the dam results in significant property damage, including septic system flooding. 

Gallagher said this incident has been referred to the Inland Wetlands Commission, which has enforcement powers. She added that the city has an open space ordinance preventing such actions, but it only comes with a $250 fine. 

“It’s sad,” Gallagher said. 

She recalled one cold winter a couple years ago, when the water was frozen enough, and she walked out toward the beaver’s log. She said she could hear the beavers, with their babies, gnawing on wood. She said the frozen pond also allowed for some otters to slide across “for the joy of it."

“It was a wonderful scene,” Gallagher said. 

Gallagher said beavers usually rebuild quickly if they are still onsite. Because that has not happened, she believes that the beavers are no longer at that location. 

If anyone has information about the beaver dam’s removal, Gallagher asked it be sent to conservation@cityofshelton.org.

brian.gioiele@hearstmediact.com