An Airdrie resident is upset by the City’s plan to deal with problem beavers that call Nose Creek home.
Waterstone resident Doreen Schulz, whose property backs onto Nose Creek, said she recently learned from a neighbour the City of Airdrie will occasionally trap and kill beavers that are deemed a nuisance.
“I phoned the City because I was quite upset about hearing that,” Schulz said. “We like our beavers along here.”
Schulz, who has lived in Waterstone for 12 years, said there is a beaver den located on the banks of Nose Creek near her backyard. She said she used to see a family of beavers swimming in the area but has not seen them in many weeks, which makes her think they’ve been killed.
According to the City’s Integrated Pest Management Plan, beavers will often make their way to Airdrie via Nose Creek, searching for new areas to start a colony. To deter the animals from damaging trees along creekbeds, City employees wrap wire mesh around tree trunks, but “this is not always successful.”
“In instances where beavers result in unacceptable damage to the natural environment and/or infrastructure, the City may lethally remove individuals by trapping,” the plan stated.
Archie Lang, the City’s manager of Parks and Public Works, confirmed the City will occasionally trap and kill beavers as part of the municipality’s wildlife population control.
“Wildlife control is something that all municipalities do, and Airdrie is no exception,” he said. “You have to control the populations because they are living in a little microcosm that doesn’t involve their natural predators, for the most part, so animals will tend to overpopulate.”
Lang said there have been a “handful” of instances where local beavers were killed this year. He noted the City is not trying to cull beavers, adding there are at least three or four families the municipality is aware of along Nose Creek.
“This isn’t a mission to eliminate them – absolutely not,” he said. “We control the populations so they don’t become a problem to themselves, actually, and for us as well.”
The main reasons a beaver would be killed, according to Lang, is if it caused significant damage to trees or if a dam causes overland flooding and property damage.
“Trees are expensive, and when they start to take trees down, they can do thousands of dollars of damage in just one evening,” he said.
Prior to 2017, Lang said the City would relocate any beavers that were deemed a nuisance. However, he said Alberta Environment and Parks no longer supports beaver relocation, as they have a low chance of survival in a new habitat.
“Quite often, they just end up dying anyway and it’s not a nice way to go,” he said.
But Schulz remains adamant that local beavers should not be killed, given their benefit to the environment and the effect of the City's wire meshing around tree trunks.
“They have their dens right on the sides and they don’t bother anything,” she said. “They’re certainly not hurting the environment and I think beavers are pretty intelligent. If they know, for example, that there’s no food in an area, they’ll move on of their own accord.”
The beaver's status as Canada's national animal is another reason they should be left alone, she said.
"Like the eagle is the American symbol, the beaver is our symbol, and I wouldn’t consider them a pest," she said. "You see people all summer long, they’re walking along the creek, and if they spot a beaver – usually they’re out really early in the morning or after 8 p.m. – people will be taking pictures. It’s quite nice to see a beaver.”