Crofton's town manager has never seen them, but the evidence they leave behind is unmistakable.
Spiked tree stumps line the banks of asmall creek near Route 424. Brush is piled up in the stream, forcingwater around the dam that already blocks more than half the waterway.
Dozens of trees have been felled, and gnaw marks are visible on countless others. The beavers have come, and Crofton Town Manger Jordan Harding is starting to worry.
"You can see these little devils have been working," he said, holding up a tree stump.
The beavers -- no one is sure how many -- have taken up residence in a stream nearRoute 424 and Farnborn Street and the Crofton Commons. The stream winds through Crofton and empties into the Little Patuxent River.
Damming the stream could flood an area near Crofton Commons, a designated floodplain, and cause storm drains to back up. Harding also said he is worried about children getting injured on the spiked stumps the beavers leave behind.
"It would go right through their chest," he said. "Look at how sharp these points are -- they are virtual spears."
Most of the trees the beavers have attacked are about 6 inches in diameter, but some are up to 10 or 12 inches thick. "That's real dangerous when you lose a tree this size," Harding said.
The beaversalso have cut down trees lining the banks, causing timber to fall into the stream. "They are smart," Harding said. "I believe they've been calling their neighbors and partying down here."
Harding said county workers have come in, chopped up the felled trees and neatly stacked the wood. But the beavers seems to be getting ahead of the game.He said he plans to call the state to determine what can be done.
Peter Jayne, the supervisor of the fur bearer and upland game program for the Department of Natural Resources, said the first goal is to trap the beavers.
During trapping season, which runs from January to March 15, the state will send in a private trapper, who will in turn sell the pelts for profit. If the situation is an emergency and itis after trapping season, a trapper will still come, but will have to be contracted by the community.
The state will send its own people to trap the beavers if the location is too dangerous for a trapper, Jayne said, adding that continually breaking up the dam will only encourage the beavers more.
"You can occasionally harass the beavers enough that they will move on," he said. "But if the family has been there for any length of time, our experience is that they will lastlonger than we will."