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It all started about a month ago, when a family of beavers started to chew down trees near a small creek along Route 424 in Crofton.

Town Manager Jordan Harding worried the beavers would leave behind spiked tree stumps and could create a small pond if they successfully dammed the stream. So, he did the only thing he could think of: call the state Department of Natural Resources.

While Harding was trying to contact the proper DNR officials, thebeaver issue turned into a ruckus.

Concerned about DNR's policy to call in trappers -- who sell the pelts for profit -- to help communities get rid of the animals, a number of residents have called the town office to make sure the beavers are saved.

The day an article appeared two weeks ago in The Anne Arundel County Sun, an animal-rights group called Harding and threatened to block Route 424 with protesters if he called the state in to handle the problem.

Thursday, the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals of Anne Arundel County sent out a flier to its 100 Crofton members that, Harding says, falsely implied he wanted to kill the beavers.

"The situation in Crofton is not urgent and does not warrant injury to beavers," the flier says. "Wildlife should not be killed simply because animals cause minor inconvenience to people."

Harding said he never had any intention of having the animals killed. He said the executive director ofthe SPCA, Frank Branchini, called him Thursday and offered to trap the animals and relocate them.

Harding said he agreed to the plan, and even found a place for the beavers. Buz Meyer, who runs a 135-acre nature community between the Little Patuxent and the Patuxent Riverin Odenton, agreed to take them.

That's why Harding said he was surprised to see the flier.

"It clearly implies that I want to havethe beavers done away with," he said. "It is a misrepresentation of facts."

Branchini said Friday that he sent out the flier because he thought Harding was planning to use the DNR to get rid of the beavers. After talking with the town manager, Branchini said he was mistaken.

"It certainly doesn't reflect the discussion we had today," hesaid of the flier.

Sylvia Jennings, legislative assistant to County Councilwoman Virginia P. Clagett, D-West River, said she brought the beaver situation to the county's attention two years ago and askedthat they be moved to a pond in the South County community of Friendship.

Somehow that request got lost, she said. "The beavers would be welcome down there."

Now there may be a snag in taking the beavers out of the stream. Branchini said this is the time of the year they have babies, and removing the mother would be fatal to her offspring.

Branchini said they will take the males away and, if they finda mother with baby beavers, will leave them alone until it is safe to remove all of them.

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