Two beavers were trapped and killed in an environmentally sensitive north Calgary area after concerns about potential flooding due to a dam the creatures had built in a stormwater pond.
Traps had apparently been in place for three weeks at a storm pond north of Country Hills Blvd NE, west of Coving Road. Beavers in the area had created a dam that was blocking one of the outlets that controlled water levels in that pond.
According to the City, two beavers have been removed.
“After considering all available options, for this pond to be able to function properly we had to remove the dam and prevent the beavers from rebuilding it,” the City said in an email response to questions.
“Storm ponds have an important job to do, cleaning stormwater before returning it to the river and protecting communities from flooding. In natural park spaces, storm ponds can become shared habitats for wildlife, like beavers, and we need to balance the needs of the wildlife and their habitat along with the functioning of important public infrastructure.”
They said there had been no noticeable beaver activity in the area for the last seven days.
“Trapping is a last resort, and we consider all other feasible options before turning to trapping. However, in some cases it is required to protect important public infrastructure,” read the city’s response.
“When we do remove beavers, we use traps that are designed to kill instantly. The traps are placed under water for the protection of dogs, park users and other wildlife and are checked daily.”
Andrew Yule, president of the Nose Creek Preservation Society, said that with higher water levels, he knew there was the possibility that the beavers could be removed. They’d seen the beavers regularly in the area as they use access near the storm pond to reach the Nose Creek watershed.
“I’d hoped, like in my mind, that’s what I was thinking. The beavers need to be relocated so that they can flourish somewhere else,” he told LWC.
The City of Calgary said relocating the beavers wasn’t an option.
“Alberta Environment and Protected Areas does not support moving beavers because there is a low rate of beaver survival and an increased risk of the transfer of diseases,” the city said.
“Relocation can also upset the balance of ecological functions and can potentially create future human-beaver conflicts.”
Reminder of the ecosystem balance
Yule said their group was disappointed but not surprised by this human-nature conflict.
“Disappointed definitely, but not surprised because of how close we are developing to a major wetland,” he said.
“Nose Creek, the ecological spine of Calgary, goes all the way up north of Calgary to the Bow River and it’s full of the wetland habitats that that we need. We’re kind of choking it out with a lot of the development over the last century here in Calgary.”
The group Yule leads is advocating for a park space in the north part of Calgary to protect the Nose Creek watershed. They’ve been advocating for its preservation more actively over the past 18 months with their Save Nose Creek campaign.
Yule knows the beavers will come back – the wetlands are an ideal area for them to live. He hopes the City of Calgary, developers and residents can learn to live with the creatures around them as development continues to spring up in the area.
“As we build more development along those creeks, how are we taking the learnings from this pond fiasco and making the next pond more beaver-friendly,” he said.
“How do we make it so that if a beaver does show up in the next storm pond we create, how can that coexist with the human factor here.”
The City of Calgary said they are working with different groups to find more opportunities to reduce the use of trapping as a solution when beavers are in the city’s water infrastructure. They have engaged groups like Friends of Fish Creek and anticipate recommendations by the end of this year.