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Beaver not stumped over where to find new food The Resort Municipality of Whistler is having to deal with tree poachers at Alpha Lake Park. Diligent beavers have fallen five of the municipality's prime birch trees in between the Valley Trail and Jordan Creek, but local conservation officers and parks officials say the beavers haven't gone after the trees because of a growing cloud of orange goo in Alpha Lake. Conservation Officer Dave Eliott says they have investigated and sampled the deposits in and around Alpha Lake and he believes it is a natural iron oxide deposit which is being carried by a small creek which flows through land owned by the Whistler Housing Corporation on the east side of Alpha Lake. Eliott says he is quite sure the lakeshore and waterborne goo is not a leachate problem originating from landfill because the water in Alpha Lake remains clear. "I would hazard a guess that they (the beaver) haven't changed their patterns because of water quality," Eliott says. "Beaver, as we all know, are very industrious animals and they take the opportunity for the food that has been afforded them by the park." But, Eliott adds, Beaver are very sensitive to diminishing habitat and as the amount of wetland around Alpha Lake gets eaten up by development the beaver will continue eating up the birch trees in the park. Bill Barratt, RMOW director of parks and recreation, says the municipality had covered the bases of the trees at Alpha Lake park with chicken wire, and they thought they had the beaver problem licked. When the trees outgrew the chicken wire, the wire was taken down and the beaver have now reappeared. "It has been so developed in that area the beaver have no fodder and so they're going to our nice birch trees," Barratt says. It will cost the municipality $1,000 to replace each of the trees the beaver have cut down. In order to combat the industrious rodents, Barratt says parks crews are going to re-cover the birch trees with chicken wire so the beavers can't chew them. Also, the municipality is going to look at some innovative options to get the beavers away from the birch trees. "We are looking at introducing some trees down there that might be more to the beaver's liking," he says. "We definitely don't want to trap and move the beaver as we have moved into their home, not vice versa. We are going to work with the animals, not against them." Mayor Ted Nebbeling received tests from the water of Alpha Lake and the orange goo on Tuesday and he says the news is good. The problem stems from an iron bacterial growth that is not harmful to the environment or people. Nebbeling says the lake ecosystem usually has the ability to filter out large concentrations of the iron bacteria, but the extensive filling of the lakeshore has diminished the size of the lake enough that it is no longer able to filter out the iron growths. "The main problem is a visual one, this stuff just looks terrible," Nebbeling says. If the growth does not disappear naturally, he says it may have to be manually cleaned up with the municipality picking up the tab.

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