News / Calgary

City working to co-exist with Calgary beaver population

Beavers' natural instincts put dams where they shouldn’t be, causing problems in Calgary parks

Tanya Hope, City of Calgary Parks Ecologist, and Adrian Nelson, The Fur-Bearers wildlife conflict manager explain why there's a wire box around a pipe along the pathway system in Griffith Woods (hint: it's to stop beavers from making dams).

Helen Pike/ Metro

Tanya Hope, City of Calgary Parks Ecologist, and Adrian Nelson, The Fur-Bearers wildlife conflict manager explain why there's a wire box around a pipe along the pathway system in Griffith Woods (hint: it's to stop beavers from making dams).

Calgary’s beavers don’t give a damn – they build. But sometimes their instincts can land residents in high water.

Instead of treating them as pests, the city has a new approach: Co-existing with the troublemakers.

This summer, residents in Discovery Ridge had trouble with their wild neighbours causing flooding and chomping down trees. So, the City of Calgary is working with partners like the Fur-Bearers and Miistakis Institute to mediate the mess.

Basically, conservationists are teaching the city and nearby municipalities how to install piping and other devices to keep water flowing. This will help the city with their new mandate to co-exist with beavers.

“Beavers are really busy, but they’re not the smartest of creatures,” said Adrian Nelson, a wildlife conflict manager with Fur-Bearers. He explained that beavers’ dams are deemed complete once they stop hearing the sound of flowing water. “We’re okay having a bit of a dam here, but we can’t have the flooding. What it really is, is a large pipe going through the dam.”

Nelson said creating these measures keep the beavers in the area, but mitigates risk of floods. It’s a long-term solution that helps beavers move on from a home that’s not ideal.

“There’s a reason beavers are there in the first place…until you address that, you’re going to continue to have beavers in the area,” said Nelson, adding that some people’s response to beaver populations is getting rid of them by trapping or shooting. “We actually find people have more problems when that happens.”

Tanya Hope, City of Calgary Parks Ecologist, said in a sense the city is tricking beavers, but co-existing has some give and take.

“Nobody wants the pathway to be flooded…we also have had concerns of trees coming down close to people’s properties,” Hope said. “Co-existence is something that’s achievable, and it’s something we want to work towards…it costs less to the city ultimately.”

Quick facts:

- Beavers are beneficial for the city’s environment.

- There are over 20 beaver lodges along the Bow River; that number excludes parks.

-  The city is recognizing biodiversity is important, and beavers are part of that.