Beavers are friends of the environment

Richard Froese

Beavers were promoted as friends of the environment and property owners during Beavers in Our Landscape workshop Oct. 12 in High Prairie.

Lesser Slave Watershed Council and Peace Country Beef and Forage Association co-hosted the event with presenters from Cows and Fish – Alberta Riparian Habitat Management Society.

“Livestock producers usually consider beavers as pests,” says Jen Allen, agri-environmental program co-ordinator of the beef and forage association.
“The workshop showed that we can work and live with beavers.”

Currently the critters seem to be rampant in the northern parts of Alberta.

“Beavers will always be prevalent here, so more people need to know about them better,” says Kaylyn Jackson, watershed co-ordinator for the water council.

Cows and Fish presenters urge property owners and livestock producers to be friends with beavers, that help sustain and enhance water supply and provide many benefits to the environment, habitat and people.

“We encourage people to work together and have conversations about where beavers fit into the watersheds and landscapes and how we might expand our tolerance for them,” says Kerri O’Shaughnessy, riparian specialist.
“We want to give people a better understanding of beavers so we can look at ways of living with them and reducing the conflict.”

She says that people have long used various conventional methods to deal with beaver such as blowing up and removing dams, and trapping and removing beavers.

“Those still are viable ways, but there are other ways that could be more sustainable and at less cost over time,” O’Shaughnessy says.

She further offered various steps to control beavers.

“You can direct where beavers build their dams by providing food and building materials where you want them to be,” O’Shaughnessy says.

A pond leveler maintains the capacity of water that suits the landowner and the beaver.

Wrapping the trunks of large trees with wire mesh deters beavers from cutting them down.

Other tips are offered in the section Beaver Solutions in the booklet Beaver – Our Watershed Partner, published by Cows and Fish in 2016.

-For smaller areas, excluding beaver with a mesh fence is an option to protect valuable trees and shrubs in yards.
-Fences can protect young trees, often the most targeted age classes of woody vegetation by beavers and many other animals.
-Circular wire mesh extending upstream of a culvert may prevent beavers from damming the flow.
-The most effective deterrent is fencing coupled with moving the intake of water far upstream of the culvert with a pipe system.
-Greater success will occur by increasing the area blocked from beaver upstream of a culvert. Beaver may create a dam upstream but the culvert will remain unplugged.

For more information, visit the online website

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