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Sunday, April 11, 1999 Published at 21:02 GMT 22:02 UK

World: Americas

Rogue rodent apprehended

Park officials set traps

One of a pair of beavers who have been wreaking havoc in Washington has been caught.

Park officials brought in a professional trapping service to catch the beavers, who have been eating their way through some of the cherry trees in the Tidal Basin park area of the city.

The two rogue rodents appeared to be building a dam across the city's Potomac River.

The cauptured animal will be released somewhere in the wild where its tree-felling and dam-building handiwork will be less of a nuisance, the park officials said.

[ image: People are the biggest enemy beavers have]
People are the biggest enemy beavers have
The cherry blossoms were a gift from the Japanese Government and their flowering is seen as marking the unofficial start of spring.

More than a dozen have been reduced to stumps and four of them are almost dead because of the damage caused by the beavers.

Park Service spokesman Earle Kittleman said that more cherry tree felons could be on the loose.

"A tourist spotted another beaver yesterday and then park officials also saw them. We are worried there could be even more out there," said Kittleman.

Beaver fever

Thousands of American tourists, clogging Washington's streets in search of cherry blossom, have every reason to be alarmed - except they do not seem to be.

Instead, they seem to be rooting for the bad guy beavers.

One little girl said: "The beavers need the wood. They need it to make their homes. They need it. There are plenty of other trees here."


But official Washington is not taking such a relaxed view.

America's national television networks have been reporting on the beavers' every move.

Some say they are part of a vast right-wing conspiracy.

One insider claims they have been offered an immunity deal by Kenneth Starr, but they chewed it up and spat it out.

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