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Beaver-proof fences keep water flowing: More humane way to stop dams from choking supply.

Beaver Lodge

By Mike Raptis, The Province October 19, 2011

Bowen Island residents, animal protection advocates and municipal officials teamed up Tuesday in an effort to save the island’s nuisance beavers from their own damming ways.

A dam on the island’s Grafton Lake – which acts as a reservoir for the drinking water of nearly 4,000 residents – has been overrun with beavers, which have been plugging a spillway daily with an assortment of mud, sticks and other dam-making debris.

“We have to dig it out every day. It’s costing us money,” said Bob Robinson, public works supervisor for the municipality.

Robinson said it’s his job to ensure that water is supplied downstream, but like other island residents, doesn’t want it to come at the expense of trapping or killing the furry animals.

So Robinson joined a handful of other island residents and members of the Association for the Protection of Fur-Bearing Animals at Grafton Lake Monday with a potential solution – constructing beaver-exclusion fencing, made from timber and wire, which prevents the beavers from building dams and blocking the waterway.

The wiring is wide enough to allow fish and other debris to pass through.

Advocate Adrian Nelson said the fencing is a better alternative than the use of traps, which are set on shores and endanger both people and animals.

“More people are realizing the dangers in these,” Nelson said, holding a metal trap that is meant to break a beaver’s neck upon contact.

Nelson said the issue came to a head on Bowen Island after a teen found an entrapped beaver dead on the side of Grafton Road, causing a huge uproar in the small community.

Nelson also said other municipalities with beaver issues – most notably Surrey, Maple Ridge and Coquitlam – have installed similar fencing with great success.

Leslie Fox, who is also an advocate with the non-profit group, said people are becoming more frequently in contact with bears, cougars and beavers as urban areas increase.

The non-profit group recently partnered with Groupon Vancouver to raise $1,700 to pay for the fencing and other projects.

Evan Clow, 62, has been a resident of Bowen Island for 18 years and volunteered to help install the fencing.

“My feeling is most people on Bowen wouldn’t want to be cruel [to the beavers],” said Clow.

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