MD wants beavers managed in conservation area
Foothills: Ann and Sandy Cross staff hoping to restore wetlands
Wednesday, Nov 09, 2011 11:03 am
MD of Foothills councillors are in support of improving wetland conditions at a local conservation area, but they also want to ensure there isn’t an infestation of Canada’s national animal.
Greg Shyba, CEO of the Ann and Sandy Cross Conservation Area, was invited to meet with the MD of Foothills council on Nov. 3 in High River to provide information concerning a proposal to bring beavers to the conservation area.
“Historically, we have had beaver dams at Pine Creek,” Shyba told council. “If we can have more beaver dams, we will have larger wetlands.”
He said improved wetlands would attract more wildlife to the conservatory, which would benefit the tourists and students who visit the area. However, Shyba also said it makes ecological sense.
The Cross Conservation Area is 4,800 acres located in the north portion of the MD of Foothills, just off Highway 22X. The area is home to the headwaters of Pine Creek, which flows into the Bow River. Wetlands would contain water longer in the spring at the Cross area, thus providing water later in the summer for the river when flow streams are low.
Shyba announced last August in the Western Wheel the conservancy was looking for beavers in order to improve wetlands.
“I was inundated with phone calls,” Shyba said. “Dads saying they wanted to get rid of their beavers, but their daughters would be in tears if they just killed them.”
Councillors and administrators are concerned with the potential migration of beavers from the Cross Conservancy to neighbouring properties in the MD.
“Beavers cause a lot of road damage and are an expense to us,” said MD of Foothills manager Harry Riva Cambrin. “We try to get rid of them.”
He said beavers have been known to use MD roads as part of their dams, resulting in damage to the roads and a cost to the municipality.
He added the MD usually exterminates the beavers rather than relocate them.
Suzanne Oel, the councillor for the Millarville area in which the Cross Conservancy is located, said she is also concerned about the migration of beavers if the project proceeds.
“We want to see a management plan,” Oel told Shyba.
She said she would also like to have Cross Conservation Area consult with neighbours as the project proceeds.
Shyba admitted many people consider beavers to be rodents.
Shyba told council, if the project proceeds, it would be at least six years before migration would be a problem.
He said predation from bears keeps the numbers down. As well, if a beaver’s needs are met, the animals will stay at the same location for generations, sometimes more than 100 years.
He said if over-population of the beavers becomes an issue at Cross Conservation area, they would take steps to surgically sterilize the animals.
The Cross Conservation Area must receive a permit from the provincial government to have beavers transported to its location.
For information concerning the Cross Conservation Area go to www.crossconservation.org