Surrey cracks down on beaver population
ENVIRONMENT | Forty of the animals were killed to avoid flooding, officials say
Surrey has killed the beaver as its official logo, but that hasn’t stopped the trench warfare in the ditches, streams and ponds of the fastgrowing community.
The city killed 40 beavers through trapping this past winter, including 14 on lowlying farmland, 24 alongside industrial properties on the Fraser River, and two near residential communities in the Cougar Creek system.
“There’s a lot of beavers in Surrey and a lot that we’re cohabiting with, so to speak,” Carrie Baron, manager of drainage and environment for Surrey, said in an interview Friday.
Baron said trapping is a last resort in critical flood-risk situations where measures such as ripping apart dams have no effect.
“A lot of beavers, we have no problem with. But in certain areas, when it becomes an extreme case, we try everything, and when peoples’ homes are going to flood, then we have to do something.”
The 40 beavers killed compares with just six killed in Surrey over the previous winter and an annual average of 15.
Trappers killed 3,878 beavers B.C.-wide in 2005, the most recent year for which government statistics are available.
Surrey has little option but to kill problem beavers due to a Ministry of Environment policy prohibiting their live relocation, Baron said. “There are so many beavers province-wide.”
Surrey communications official Joel Giebelhaus noted the traditional beaver lost out to a new logo — a stylized image of a cityscape fronted by parkland — unveiled just last month.
“The beaver has been bumped out as our logo,” he confirmed, adding it remains part of the city’s official coat of arms.
The new logo comes with the slogan “the future lives here.” But beavers may not be ready to be relegated to the past just yet — at least not without a public outcry.
Baron confirmed there has been negative public feedback over the killings — some of it from Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts.
However, residents whose properties are spared flooding by removal of the beavers can likely be counted as supporters.
“The recent change in Surrey’s logo ... sadly reflects the change in priorities away from respecting the natural world and all its inhabitants,” complained Roslyn Cassells, a former Vancouver park commissioner and the first Green party member elected to office in Canada.
“Any city practice or policy which results in the killing and suffering of animals represents a profound failure of leadership at the most fundamental spiritual and ethical level,” Cassells said.
Baron said she plans to meet with ministry officials soon to see if alternative solutions can be found. The beavers are safe until at least November, when heavy rains make their dams more problematic.
Some residents have called in to suggest ponds as potential sites for relocating beavers, assuming the city can get approval from the province, said Baron, adding that new ideas for management change are welcome.
“If people have innovative techniques, I’m open.”
Officials in Surrey are trapping beavers because their dams cause flooding in certain areas of the city.
The City of Surrey has traded its old logo, featuring a beaver, for the new logo pictured above.