From left, Cows and Fish Riparian Specialists Jennifer Caudron and Kerri O’Shaughnessy. Photo Angela Mouly
The County of Vermilion River hosted a ‘Beavers In our Landscape’ workshop on November 8, at the Red Feather Ridge. Environmental staff and landowners met to discuss benefits and difficulties associated with beavers, along with education, prevention, and extension.
According to Kerri O’Shaunessy, Cows and Fish Riparian Specialist, beavers led to the development of Canada through the European fur trade and early government. She added that the species has been transforming landscapes for about one million years, and there are currently 50 place names in Alberta related to the species.
According to O’Shaunessy, dealing with the rodent is not a new problem and legislation may need to be addressed in order to transfer them live so that relocation can become a more viable option. She went on to say that as a creature on the pest act for many years, the beaver is not favourable by everyone and can cause large amounts of damage in a hurry in some cases, but others, often like to enjoy watching them do their work.
Local rancher, Brandon Nagy attended to see what could be done in the event of a dam blowout which could hypothetically damage fences, farmland, etc.
“I want to ensure that the cattle would still have access to water, and I want to ensure the ability to coexist peacefully,” said Nagy.
In the past, Nagy had beavers on his land that chewed through the wire of a water pumping system in a pond.
Options were discussed for multiple scenarios including installing audio of running water to attract beavers to sites that people would prefer them to build dams, deterrents, blowing dams, scent markers, cayenne pepper, other animal hair, coating trees with sand and paint mixture, lethal or live trapping, as well as regulating water levels.
A popular discussion was held around a community watershed approach and the installation of pond levelers. Jennifer Caudron, Cows and Fish Riparian Specialist, shared case studies from around North America that had proved beneficial for fish, cattle, and recreation areas by reducing potential flood damage and storing water in dry seasons.
According to Caudron, the Cooking Lake/Blackfoot Provincial Recreation Area, estimated a $384,000 savings in management costs between 2014 – 2016 when using pond levellers in 14 sites versus traditional methods of hiring backhoes, trappers and purchasing dynamite. Coudron gathered that each pond leveller could cost between $500 - $1,000 depending on materials used.
For more information on what can be done, you can contact ALUS CVR Program Coordinator, Chris Elder, or search www.cowsandfish.org.