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Posted: September 15, 2021

Spare beavers from hasty decisions and poor planning

Letter to the Editor

The Sept. 8 press release on the City of Cranbrook Facebook page, regarding the planned relocation of the Idlewild Lake beavers, has left us with a number of questions and concerns.

The fact that the release mentioned “a” beaver was the first flag; second, was the mention of “mitigation measures.”

There’s not “a” singular beaver, there’s a family of them. We’ve seen at least three: two adults and one kit.  The mention of just a single animal does beg the question of how well the situation has actually been studied.

Some clarity around the supposed “mitigation measures” would also be helpful. As regular park-walkers, we’ve seen nothing but an attempt or two at flimsy chicken wire around the trees. We realize there could be more going on behind the scenes, but…what? Where?

Has a Dam Leveler or an Exclusion Fence been constructed, for example? It took us all of 5 minutes to find more information online about managing beavers, which we’ve attached, so you can see where our questions come from.

Those questions, specifically, are as follows:

  1. What mitigation steps, exactly, have been taken? When? What were the results?
  2. What recommended steps (see attachments) have not been attempted, and why?
  3. Has a wildlife rehab agency/expert been consulted?
  4. How will the beavers be safely removed as a family?
  5. Has a suitable location been determined in advance, that is both appropriate and without competing interests?
  6. Has it been determined that it’s not too late in the season to relocate the beavers? What are the risks to the animals if they are relocated now, when their preparations for winter are already underway? Could they not spend the winter at Idlewild, and be moved in the spring?
  7. What accountability is there, either for the trapper or the City, to ensure the safety, survival, and humane treatment of the beavers?

We want to be clear about this: we understand that there will be issues with wildlife in these “interface” areas. That, in some cases, something needs to be done to protect other habitat, or at-risk properties. Of course, we’d prefer to see the beavers stay if it’s possible. They have provided a valuable educational experience.

More than that, they have been a source of joy and delight and community spirit – at a time when all three of those are in short supply. We only want to know that any actions taken are science-based, in consultation with relevant agencies and experts, and humane. It would be a tragedy if the beavers were the victims of hasty decisions and poor planning.

Finally: Even if all the above questions have been taken into account, and there’s a perfect plan in place to ensure the beavers’ successful relocation, and there’s even a happily-ever-after Disney soundtrack for the whole operation… this has been an egregious failure in communication, with little clarity and no transparency at all.

Cranbrook citizens could all have been spared a good deal of upset, simply by releasing more detailed information. We would like to trust that this decision was not taken in haste, and that all options had been explored. The communication from the city has left us short on confidence. We know the city can do better.

Erin Dalton and Ferdy Belland,

Cranbrook


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