Beavers that gnawed dozens of trees to the ground in a wooded Burke Centre neighborhood in Fairfax County were trapped late Sunday night and whisked off to rural Rappahannock County.

The nocturnal crew had been irritating residents of Dundas Oak Court and Freds Oak Way in the last few months by cutting down dozens of trees with their sharp teeth during nightly forays to the wooded yards, then hauling the timber back to a winter lodge they had built in a nearby storm drainage ditch.

Removal of the animals satisfied many of the residents, who had considered the beavers a nuisance, and was also an emotional victory for those who had feared for the lives of the furry beasts.

Laura Partain, a wildlife enthusiast and a former Burke Centre resident who organized the move, was pleased, but she feared that the beavers might not survive the winter. "It's really late in the season to be doing this," Partain said. "It's going to be hard for them to establish a food supply and shelter."

"Everyone has a different opinion as to the odds of {the beavers'} survival," added Burke Centre resident Beverly Murdock. "At least some chance is better than no chance."

The beavers posed a predicament for residents of the carefully planned community, which prides itself on its motto, "Nature and Community in Harmony." Last month, at the urging of a few residents, Burke Centre officials hired a private trapper to get rid of the beavers. The trapper killed two animals in steel traps before conservation-minded residents intervened.

Most residents of the neighborhood voted to leave the beavers alone until spring, when they could be relocated. However, the Burke Centre elected board of trustees, which maintains common land, overrode the neighborhood's consensus and voted to kill the beavers if they caused any more property damage. According to trustee Jack Nicklas, the board was concerned both that relocating the beavers would be expensive and that moving the animals so late in the season would be less humane than killing them immediately.

But when the beavers tore down more trees, Burke Centre officials did not act. Instead, the board yielded to pressure from beaver advocates and rescinded the decision to kill them.

The community hired a trapper to trap the animals alive for $260 last weekend. Partain loaded the animals on a truck and drove them out to a private wildlife refuge.

Meanwhile, some residents have formed a committee to draft a wildlife policy to guide future board decisions for handling errant four-footed residents.

The committee hopes to force Burke Centre officials "to act according to a certain set of guidelines when these things come up and not just act on impulse," said Bud Sottili, the committee chairman. "My idea was to write something general enough to be used not just for beavers and trees, but bees and rosebushes."