The City of Cranbrook, B.C., will delay the relocation of a family of beavers in a city park until the spring of next year, but some citizens say staff is ignoring alternatives to ensure the family can stay where they are.
Beavers had set up a dam in Idlewild Lake, within the city’s Idlewild Park, in spring of this year. Stephanie Lacey, a mother of two pre-schoolers, said her children had noticed the dam getting bigger and bigger all year.
But recently, she was alerted to live traps that the city had placed in order to relocate the beavers. She then set up a petition asking the city to consider alternatives.
The petition says relocating the beaver family in the winter “does not give the beavers enough time” to find food and create a new lodge, and that the city had refused to work with citizens on the matter.
In a statement on Monday, a spokesperson for the city said the relocation would be put off until spring next year, and that Idlewild Lake is not a traditional, natural habitat for beavers.
Lacey says that is untrue.
“Beavers are very intelligent animals, and they don’t build a lodge and a dam in a place that would run out of food sources for them,” she told CBC News. “There’s tons of trees and vegetation around Idlewild. So it’s the perfect location for beavers.”
“It definitely feels to me like it’s more about the monetary loss of [trees] the city has put into the park already for, like, their own beautification of it.”
The city says the relocation is being done due to the risk of flooding upstream, and to protect the bigger Idlewild Dam set up on the lake.
“The City understands and appreciates the very positive draw this beaver family has created around Idlewild,” the spokesperson said in a statement. “The relocation will be done but not until the spring.”
Wildlife rehabilitator says other options ignored
Colleen Bailey, a certified technical wildlife rescuer and rehabilitator living in Cranbrook, calls the decision to relocate the beavers foolish.
She says the latest reasons provided by the city for the relocation are among numerous “excuses” provided in the past few weeks alone, including that the beavers would allegedly pollute the lake.
“The City of Cranbrook’s own master plan for this park was to increase biodiversity, ecology, and natural interaction,” she said.
“I know they don’t like [the beavers] because nature is actually doing what nature does. So it’s ridiculous. It’s almost comical.”
Bailey says the beaver dams can increase the risk of flooding or damage to planted trees, but that the city has refused to install pond levellers or employ other mitigation strategies used in other cities.
She says a non-profit group presented the city a report about beaver mitigation strategies, but officials have not yet tried them.
“These mitigation efforts would permit the beavers to do what they do naturally,” she said. “If there wasn’t enough food sources, the family would move along on their own.”
Bailey thinks the beavers are an opportunity for Cranbrook to prove to the rest of the province that they can coexist with wildlife. She said she has a “team of people” willing to volunteer to help the beavers survive.
She and Lacey have promised to continue to ask the city questions about the relocation, including making use of freedom-of-information requests.