The recent removal of beavers from the Meadow Lakes Golf Resort was unfortunately a necessary and responsible decision on the part of all parties involved.
Exclusion cones, as advocated by the Association for the Protection of Fur-Bearing Animals, are largely ineffective, as beavers can usually figure out how to build their dams around them, and if not they simply move up or down the stream to another location where sufficient food exists.
After several years in one location a beaver family of five can grow to one of eight or 10, and up to as many as 20 in the same colony.
This many beavers will rapidly deplete their food supply and move elsewhere.
After a year or two of no maintenance, a breach in the dam will occur and a significant volume of water can be released at one time.
Beaver dams can attain enormous proportions.
Several years ago a beaver dam was located in a remote portion of Wood Buffalo National Park. It was so large that it showed up on photos taken from outer space.
Imagine the damage to infrastructure and private property if a dam of this magnitude were to suddenly let go a short distance upstream from the Alaska Highway, not to mention the threat to human life.
Road washouts caused by beavers can cost many hundreds of thousands of dollars to repair. A washout of a major highway in the Ottawa area in the early 1990’s cost over a million dollars in repairs.
Live trapping and relocation of beavers is not an option as every location in their North American range has beavers present already.
These are highly territorial animals and simply will not tolerate the presence of other beavers in their territory.
The current value of a prime beaver pelt is quite low. Consequently most trappers don’t put a great deal of effort into harvesting them from their assigned concessions.
Beaver populations are at record high levels, forcing occupation of marginal habitat, which often brings them into conflict with humans.
A healthy fur industry would result in prices that would make it worthwhile for trappers to target them, and the population would be kept at a level that would greatly reduce incidents such as has occurred at Meadow Lakes Golf Resort.
I would like to know how many conservation officers were involved in setting the traps for these beavers, and how much time they spent checking and resetting them until they pulled their traps.
This type of activity is not the officers’ core function and prevents them from being out there on the land protecting our valuable fisheries and wildlife resources from poaching criminals and environmental abusers.
President, Yukon Trappers