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City project aims to discourage beaver presence

Beavers have caused flood damage through their dam construction. - File photo
Beavers have caused flood damage through their dam construction.
— image credit: File photo

As beavers continue to pose a threat by damming up culverts and other waterways, the municipality is running a trial project off King Road to stop flooding without resorting to trapping the buck-toothed builders.

Beavers have been in the project area for a couple of years and have caused flooding by building their dams.

A couple of months ago the city of Abbotsford approved the installation of pond levelers, which are pipes that run through the beaver’s dam to drain the pond. The device is used to trick beavers into thinking there is a breach in the dam. When the beaver is unable to figure out how to keep the water in, the intent is that it will move on to a new area.

City staff say the efforts are working well and the pond is at a comfortable level, with no threat of flooding downstream. But staff say there is a beaver still attempting to fix the problem in the dam and is being monitored until it decides to vacate.

The project was started at the suggestion and assistance of the Association for the Protection of Fur-Bearing Animals (APFA).

The organization made a presentation on alternatives to trapping in Abbotsford last year after a coyote was discovered caught in a leg-hold trap in March. The animal was gruesomely injured and eventually put down. The act was condemned by APFA, as well as the BC Trappers Association, which said such cases are usually due to inexperienced or unlicensed trappers.

Though that incident was not due to a city trap, in the past, Abbotsford has hired provincially licensed trappers to remove beavers from flooded areas.

APFA offered to help Abbotsford implement measures to address the problem of beavers without trapping.

APFA volunteers check on the new water flow devices and freely consult with municipalities, farmers, and other groups on non-lethal, long-term methods of managing animal populations, including beavers, coyotes, and raccoons.

A city spokesperson said the pond leveler is initially inexpensive to set up – less than $1,000 – but costs could add up. If the beaver continues to add material to the dam as water levels drop, engineering may have to send crews more frequently to remove debris, but at this time the city is unable to quantify the cost difference between traditional methods of trapping and removing dams and the new method.

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