No love for muskrats in Hampton neighborhood

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by Janet Roach

WVEC.com

Posted on November 23, 2010 at 6:35 PM

Updated Thursday, Oct 17 at 2:31 PM

HAMPTON -- You won't find much muskrat love on Aspenwood Drive in Hampton.

Gilmer McKinney says muskrats have moved in, digging up his yard and leaving holes that make it difficult for him to get around on his motorized scooter.

"They're just like a big overgrown rat.  I've gotta watch out for them so I don't run into one of them because if I hit one of them in this thing, I'll go over," he says.

The problem stems from the ditch next to his house. He says he’d complained to the city for a decade, asking it to be filled and to get a better drainage pipe.

A few years ago, the muskrats took up residence in the ditch. They dig tunnels at night, making the trench deeper and eroding the banks.

McKinney is worried his fence will eventually topple over.

His persistence did prompt the city to set some traps and six muskrats were caught.

McKinney says they’re not all gone.

"I have four holes in my yard where they've tunneled into the yard. Our dogs have killed four up here in the yard," he states.

A day after the 13News Troubleshooters contacted the city, Councilman Will Moffett came to see the ditch for himself. Also along were Assistant City Manager Jim Gray, Director of Drainage Operations Patrick Ray and Public Works Director Lynn Allsbrook.

Ray told McKinney about a drainage study that’s been done on ditches in a several-block area, including the one on Aspenwood. Ray said filling the ditch would fix the problem, but there’s no money to pay for the $800,000 job.

"The goal is to install piping in this ditch and the others three blocks down, downstream from here. That's the goal.
It's a hard ditch to maintain, so piping it in would be the ultimate solution," Ray explained.

Right now, the plan is on the city's contingency list, but it’s not listed as a priority. City leaders did not rule out pushing up the project.

In the meantime, McKinney is interested in finding a short-term solution, including getting help with fixing the holes in his yard.

City leaders are promising to help and to shore up the bank of the ditch and say they’ll continue to trap muskrats.

"I've gone as far and I could go and I couldn't get anything done. Well ain't but one other way to go. Try TV13. That's what I done," says McKinney.

 

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