Endangered Insect Delaying Mall Construction

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Construction set for a 70-store shopping center at Chaffee Crossing in Barling is coming to a halt because of two-inch long endangered beetle.

Authorities said the American Burying Beetle may be on a multimillion dollar construction site.

Fort Chaffee Redevelopment Authority Executive Director Ivy Owen said the area must undergo testing with an entomologist before they can break ground.

"They will go out and for a couple of days to see if they can trap a beetle,” said Owen. “The way they do it is they will dig a hole in the ground and put some rotten meat, usually chicken meat down in the bottom, and these beetles are attracted to that. So if there’s one anywhere in the area, then they will show up."

If the beetles do show up it will delay mall construction for up to two months while the insects are moved to another location. City officials are ready for the issue to be resolved.

"With the beetle issue, we are waiting on the entomologist to come out, run the tests to see if they are actually out there,” said Barling City Clerk Kimala Bentley. “So hopefully they will find out that maybe there won’t be any out there and we can get construction on the way.”

Owen said no beetles have been found yet.

"If they find one, then another protocol sets in,” said Owen. “That involves some more time relocating this beetle to a location that supports them where they won’t be endangered."

Owen said as soon as any testing is complete mall construction will take off. The shopping center located at the intersection of Highway 59 and Highway 22  is expected to employ up to 700 people.