Way­ward beaver

Port aux Basques res­i­dents say gov­ern­ment de­part­ments not well con­nected to promptly re­spond to an­i­mal in dis­tress call

The Gulf News (Port aux Basques) - - Front page - BY MARTINE BLUE

Port aux Basques res­i­dents say gov­ern­ment de­part­ments not well con­nected to promptly re­spond to an­i­mal in dis­tress call

Res­i­dents along Water Street East in Port aux Basques had an un­usual visi­tor on Fri­day, Aug. 10, when a young beaver was spot­ted walk­ing along the side­walk.

As there no ponds close to the town, Ge­orge An­der­son grew con­cerned about the an­i­mal be­ing so far from its nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ment in the 30 de­gree heat they ex­pe­ri­enced that af­ter­noon.

An­der­son grabbed his mop and walked along with the an­i­mal, go­ing up and down the street for 10–15 min­utes to en­sure it did not wan­der onto the road and get hit by a car. The beaver ini­tially hissed at An­der­son but dis­played no other signs of ag­gres­sion.

Ge­orge’s wife, Shirley An­der­son said the beaver was so big, “one guy thought he was a cat. A big cat. But he was too big for a cat. “

She also said the beaver had a notch miss­ing from his tail and that her neigh­bours spec­u­lated that might have some­thing to do with it be­ing found so far from fresh water.

“They said that he (the beaver) was prob­a­bly ban­ished from his fam­ily,” Shirley said. “They say that when there’s a piece miss­ing from his tail, he was lazy and his par­ents threw him out. That might just be an N.L. say­ing, I don’t know. I’m from Scot­land.”

Ge­orge man­aged to guide the beaver into his own drive­way, where it crawled into the shade un­der his car and took a long nap. Shirley be­lieves the beaver was likely ex­hausted.

“I think he was walk­ing around for awhile,” she said. “He was tuck­ered out and he got un­der the car and laid there for two-and-a-half hours be­fore any­body came and got him.”

Shirley char­ac­ter­izes her ex­pe­ri­ence con­tact­ing the var­i­ous agen­cies as “frus­trat­ing”. The An­der­sons called their neigh­bour, Clau­dine Neil, who came over to take some pic­tures and help con­tact var­i­ous agen­cies. Neil also won­dered what the beaver was do­ing in down­town Port aux Basques.

“Our un­der­stand­ing is they don’t like salt water but Water Street runs along the ocean and we don’t know how else it could have got­ten here,” Neil com­mented.

Shortly af­ter 3 p.m. town em­ploy­ees Alex Hod­der and Philip Roberts ar­rived with a large dog cage and cap­tured the beaver within 15 min­utes.

“They just put him in a cage and went off with him,” Shirley at­tested. “They said they were go­ing to put him in a pond up on the high­way.”

Neil echoes An­der­son’s com­plaint that get­ting any­one to res­cue the an­i­mal was frus­trat­ing.

“The rea­son I called an­i­mal wel­fare in St. John’s, it’s 30 de­gree heat, this thing is ob­vi­ously out of it’s el­e­ment, it was tired, ex­hausted.” Neil said. “One of the is­sues the peo­ple were say­ing, is that you’ve got all these kids out.

“They (beavers) are not mild man­nered crea­tures. They can be quite vi­cious. It’s wan­der­ing around with kids play­ing out­side and you re­ally don’t know what could have hap­pened. Does this not oc­cur to any­body from all these agen­cies? It’s just like pass the buck, pass the buck, pass the buck.”

In re­sponse to The Gulf News’ re­quest for com­ment on why a beaver would be found so close to salt water, and far from any fresh­wa­ter ponds, John Tomp­kins, di­rec­tor of com­mu­ni­ca­tions for the Depart­ment of Fish­eries and Land Re­sources, re­sponded with the fol­low­ing emailed state­ment:

“Beavers are ter­ri­to­rial and in­di­vid­ual, usu­ally ju­ve­niles will leave their natal colonies to lo­cate suit­able habi­tat and es­tab­lish new colonies. In the process, the an­i­mal may sub­ject it­self to a va­ri­ety of stresses in­clud­ing com­ing in con­tact with peo­ple in un­pre­dictable lo­ca­tions. It is not un­com­mon for a beaver to use the ocean as a mode of trans­port.”

In re­sponse to the ques­tion why it might take Wildlife of­fi­cials awhile to deal with an­i­mal in dis­tress calls, Tomp­kins wrote:

“Wildlife con­trol re­sponses by Con­ser­va­tion Of­fi­cers are de­pen­dent on the na­ture of the call and the lo­ca­tion of the re­sponse re­quired. Re­sponse to ‘prob­lem an­i­mals’ is a process of phys­i­cal re­moval and re­lo­ca­tion where ap­pro­pri­ate to do so. The depart­ment dis­cour­ages hu­man ac­tiv­i­ties that af­fect an­i­mal be­hav­ior, such as feeding or re­moval of young.”

PHO­TOS COUR­TESY OF CLAU­DINE NEIL

Port aux Basques town em­ploy­ees Alex Hod­der and Philip Roberts cap­tured the way­ward beaver and later re­leased it in a nearby pond.

This beaver was spot­ted walk­ing along Water Street East in Port aux Basques on Fri­day, Aug. 10.

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