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Whistler – Valley of the Dammed

Whistler Biodiversity Project

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Humans generally consider beavers a nuisance and so destroy the beavers and their dams to allow water to continue flowing. This has led to the extirpation of the species and the decline of fish, amphibian, insect, mammal, reptile and waterfowl species in Whistler and other places. Thus, coexisting with beavers is paramount in the stability of local populations of many species and the key to achieving this is public education and awareness. There are, for instance, humane and inexpensive methods that may be employed to resolve common Beaver-human conflicts:

• Tree trunks can be made aversive or inaccessible to Beavers; important trees around golf courses and in neighborhoods can be protected from beavers by either wrapping the base in a wire mesh or spraying them with a Bobcat/Coyote musk or pepper spray.

• Use of outside motion-detectors equipped with the sound of barking dogs can also be used in areas where the felling of trees is trying to be prevented (You can substitute the sound of barking dogs with the sound of Celine Dion’s voice, both of which are aversive to the auditory canal).

• The best systems for controlling beaver flooding are based on deception and exclusion. Dams can be penetrated without compromising the structure or alerting the beaver. As many of you who have tried to disassemble a dam only to have it rebuilt the next morning know, beavers use audible stimuli in orienting construction behavior. This means a beaver will repair any part of its dam where he hears running water. To keep the dam but still allow water flow, you can use perforated PVP pipes, posts and wire mesh to probe the dam and allow water to flow. This system will not work in less than a half-metre of standing water or in areas where a large volume of water must be moved.

Conservation, preservation, management and ability to work with beavers is crucial for the stability of locally sensitive populations of species that rely on it for critical habitat. That is why we need your support in reporting past and current beaver sightings. As part of the Whistler Biodiversity project, a multi-year, multi-group effort to catalogue and protect native species, we are doing a two-year preliminary census of beaver populations in Whistler. We hope to determine population numbers, distribution and history of all beaver activity in the Whistler Valley.