Pender Island residents fight to stop beaver cull


WATCH: It’s a beaver battle as Pender Island residents fight Parks Canada’s plan to trap and kill a small beaver colony. Tess van Straaten reports.

The mighty beaver has long been a symbol of Canada but the fate of a small colony of busy beavers on Pender Island is in jeopardy.

“It’s extremely ironic,” says concerned resident Dr. Mark Wensley. “I think we should have a Parks Canada sign with a beaver on its back and its legs in the air. It’s very sad.”

Parks Canada planned to trap and kill the large rodents because their industrious dam-building in Greenburn Lake, part of Gulf Islands National Park Reserve, is threatening a man-made dam.

“It’s the worst option you can conceive of that they would actually kill the beavers,” says Dorset Wensley. “As far as I’m concerned, it’s human error and the beavers should not be paying for this.”

Concerned residents say the beavers have been there for decades and claim there weren’t any issues until the dam was replaced.

“The new dam is working but there were some berms created by the construction company,” says Dr. Wensley. “Unfortunately, downstream there’s now some back-up that wasn’t there before.”

As word of the cull spread, the community rallied and threatened to blockade the area on Monday so Parks Canada put off the trapping until later in the week, temporarily suspending the death sentence.

“I think it’s important something is done and there’s a positive solution here and that the animals are saved,” Dr. Wensley says. “They shouldn’t be culled.”

No one from Parks Canada was available to comment on Monday but officials have previously said they’ve exhausted all other options.

They’ve been trying to find a potential solution for about a year and say culling the colony is the only viable option.

Officials have tried installing what’s called a ‘beaver deceiver’, wire fencing that protects the culvert and allows water to flow through but the beavers built dams in new places. Officials say re-locating beavers, which are territorial, isn’t an option.

But with growing community pressure, and offers for non-lethal solutions pouring in, residents say they’re hopeful Parks Canada will come up with a better plan so the beavers can be saved.

“There’s got to be a better solution than eradicating the animals because animals are here forever,” Dorset Wensley says. “Why should we continue to shoot them? Just let them be.”

Tess van StraatenTess van Straaten

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