Sur­rey cracks down on beaver pop­u­la­tion

EN­VI­RON­MENT | Forty of the an­i­mals were killed to avoid flood­ing, of­fi­cials say

Vancouver Sun - - British Columbia - BY LARRY PYNN VAN­COU­VER SUN

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.”

WARD PER­RIN/VAN­COU­VER SUN FILES

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.

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