In a small ravine near a community of town houses off Route 424, a family of beavers is frantically working to dam up a creek, oblivious to the political and ethical dilemma they pose.
Crofton community officials want the animals out, but they are squeamish about a proposal by the state Department of Natural Resources to contract with trappers, who would be allowed to sell the pelts.
Community officials have asked about the feasibility of capturingthe beavers and moving them, but that doesn't sit well with animal rights activists, who say it could traumatize the animals and separatethe adults from the young beavers, who could be left to die.
Crofton Town Hall has received letters demanding the beavers be saved andone threat of a protest to close down Route 424 if the community allows the state to issue a permit to trappers.
And sometime within the next two weeks, workers with the local chapter of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals will try another approach -- diverting the flowing water under the dam.
"The only thing we will agree to is a solution that does not kill the beavers," said Town Manager Jordan Harding. "Hopefully, this will satisfy everybody."
The beavers -- no one is sure exactly how many -- started building their dam near Route 424 two months ago. County workers have broken up the structure several times, but the persistent rodents keep building it back up.
Now, Harding said, a good rain could flood Route 424 and create a small pond in the woods near the creek.
Last month, Crofton officials found two sites where the beavers could be relocated. BuzMeyer, who runs a 135-acre nature preserve between the Little Patuxent and Patuxent River in Odenton, agreed to take them in. And Sylvia Jennings, legislative assistant to County Councilwoman Virginia P. Clagett, D-West River, offered a pond in Friendship.
But Harding said the SPCA still wasn't satisfied, fearing that even live traps wouldcapture only the adults.
As an alternative, the SPCA will build adiverter that would direct water under the dam.
"The beaver experts claim that it is very effective," Harding said. "It will make themmove on. Beavers need a pond. The theory is that since they can't dam up the stream, they will move on."
There is one problem. The beavers could move downstream and start building all over again.