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Klahanie Beavers Qs and As

1. How did the beavers end up in Pigeon Creek?
2. How many beavers are there in Pigeon Creek?
3. What do beavers eat?
4. Are beavers protected? Are their numbers declining?
5. Is Pigeon Creek a good habitat for the beavers?
6. What has the City done so far?
7. Have all of the beavers been safely excluded from the pipe?
8. What will happen now that the permanent screen is installed over the pipe outlet?
9. Why did the City not install the screen sooner? 10. Should Klahanie residents still be worried about flooding?
11. Can the beavers be relocated? If so, when and where?
12. If the beavers stay in Pigeon Creek, how will they impact the water, fish, vegetation, trees, etc.?
13. Other municipalities in Canada are successfully co-existing with beavers. Is co-existence possible at this site?
14. If the water levels become a problem, can the City install a flow device?
15. How are beavers able to live in other Lower Mainland locations?

1. How did the beavers end up in Pigeon Creek?
- It’s likely the beavers migrated up Pigeon Creek from Burrard Inlet. 

2. How many beavers are there in Pigeon Creek?
- There have been up to four beavers living in Pigeon Creek, most likely a male, a female, and two kits.

3. What do beavers eat?
- Beavers subsist off bark during fall and winter and grass/aquatic plants during summer/spring. 
- However, our mild climate allows for a mix of the above food items year-round. 

4. Are beavers protected? Are their numbers declining?
- Provincial legislation protects beavers under Section 9 of the Wildlife Act and Section 44 of the Water Act. 
- The City has obtained the provincial permits required to disturb a beaver dam. 
- Beaver populations are increasing in B.C. and across Canada.

5. Is Pigeon Creek a good habitat for the beavers?
- Pigeon Creek is not ideal habitat for beavers. It’s a small creek system surrounded by dense urban development, with minimal resources for beavers. It’s near major roads, which may present a safety risk to the beavers if they must search farther afield for sources of food.
- Ideal habitat would contain enough suitable forage trees to last a beaver colony 8 to 10 years. --  Suitable food supplies are very limited in Pigeon Creek. 

6.What has the City done so far? 
- Staff became aware of beaver activity in Pigeon Creek in late November 2016. 
- Staff began monitoring beaver activity in March 2017. 
- Dozens of trees in the area have been wrapped with wire, to prevent the beavers from chewing and felling them. 
- The beavers built a den and stored food within a City storm sewer pipe. The purpose of this pipe is to drain storm water and prevent flooding. 
- As summer approached, staff assessed the immediate risk associated with allowing the stored materials to remain in the pipe system. Due to anticipated low flow conditions from low rainfall over the summer months, staff determined that the immediate risk to City infrastructure was minimal, but regular inspection would be required. 
- The beaver family gave birth to kits. Taking action before or soon after the birth of the kits could have placed the beaver family at risk of predation. 
- This fall the City obtained professional advice and guidance from consulting engineers and biologists regarding the risks associated with the beaver presence in Pigeon Creek and their den materials contained within the pipe. The consultants recently prepared a report, in which they recommended immediate exclusion of the beaver from the pipe due to the infrastructure risk associated with the den materials. 
- Beaver kits mature very quickly and are considered fully grown, physically, at 5 months of age. They are well-suited to surviving outside the pipe system with the adults. 
- Fall and winter can bring heavy rainfall, so the City developed a plan to remove the debris (i.e. food cache and nest materials) from the pipe to prevent a potential blockage that could cause flooding and damage to property in the Klahanie neighbourhood. The City needed to take action because it is responsible for managing storm water, mitigating the risk of flood-related damage to private property, and protecting our valuable community infrastructure. 
- For the safety of the beavers and City staff, removing the den materials had to occur while the beavers were outside of the pipe. To draw the beavers out, a temporary exclusion fence with a one-way door was placed over the pipe before further work began. This was done to minimize interaction between the beavers and City staff during further work and allowed for a gradual reduction of the beavers using the pipe. 
- The City pulled a section of the beavers’ dam apart to let water flow through to lower the water levels. Low water levels were necessary to ensure safety for staff working in the stream and at the entrance to the pipe. While completing the works, a temporary bypass pipe was added to the dam to maintain low water levels. 
- City workers then removed the debris from the drainage pipe. 
In addition to removing the debris from the pipe, the City installed a permanent screen over the pipe outlet. The screen prevents the beavers from re-entering the drainage pipe. 
- Some further work to clean the pipe will be required in the future, but this work will be planned so that is has minimal impact or no impact on Pigeon Creek.

7. Have all of the beavers been safely excluded from the pipe?
- Our efforts to exclude the beavers from the pipe began on December 1. We tried several methods to encourage the beavers to leave the pipe, including a temporary wire mesh screen with a one way door, using beaver scent as an attractant, and breaching the dam. We were able to get all of the beavers out of the pipe, and gave them some time to rehabituate in Pigeon Creek. However, during this time, one of the beaver kits kept finding a way back into the pipe.
- On Friday, Dec. 15, we breached the dam and were relatively certain that the remaining kit had left the pipe. However, we were not ready to proceed with the permanent grate until we could be absolutely sure.
- We spent Friday trying to track or draw out the kit with no success, and at the end of the day, we decided to leave an elevated live trap inside the pipe, behind the temporary grate. If the trap was empty in the morning, it would be reasonable to assume the kit was no longer in the pipe; if the kit was inside the trap in the morning, we could pull the trap out and release the kit safely into the creek once the permanent grate was installed. We added a bypass pipe in the dam, so that water could continue to flow through it – this would keep the water level low in the creek and inside the pipe overnight. With the bypass pipe installed, even if the beavers built the dam back up, water should still drain.
- When we returned on Saturday, Dec. 16, we noticed the other beavers had done some work on the dam and also plugged our bypass pipe. This unexpectedly raised the water levels in the creek and inside the pipe.
- Despite all of our efforts to exclude the last beaver from the pipe safely – which was the desired outcome of everyone involved – unfortunately, the kit was found dead inside the trap, due to the unexpected increase in the water level.
- We are deeply saddened by this tragic accident, and we know that Klahanie residents will be deeply saddened as well.
- City staff worked with consultants – experts in the fields of engineering and biology – for months before the work began, to develop a plan that prioritized the well-being of the beavers living in Pigeon Creek. At the start of the work in December, and throughout the process, highly qualified consultants and staff have worked extremely hard to ensure the impact on the beavers would be minimal. This outcome is the opposite of what we had all hoped for.
- The remaining beavers were safely excluded from the pipe and were observed in Pigeon Creek on Saturday. In the months to come, the City will continue to monitor the remaining beavers, should they choose to stay in Pigeon Creek. 

8. What will happen now that the permanent screen is installed over the pipe outlet?
- The beavers may choose to stay and reside in the bank den, or they may choose to relocate. 
- If the beavers remain, trees in the area will be monitored as the beavers may attempt to use them as a food source.
- The potential felling of large nearby trees could present a risk to public safety and nearby buildings.
- If the beavers remain in Pigeon Creek, staff will monitor their activity. 
- The City will monitor the bank den, dam, and water level in the creek, as well as the surrounding habitat.

9. Why did the City not install the screen sooner?
- The City has been planning this work since spring of this year and started work to exclude the beavers from the pipe on December 1, 2017. Taking action before the kits matured and were able to sufficiently forage with the parents outside of the den could have placed the kits at risk of predation.
- Beavers typically give birth in May; these two beaver kits are believed to have been born in June.
- Beaver kits are able to leave the lodge at two months of age. The kits are now five months old. They are capable of foraging outside of the pipe within Pigeon Creek with the parents.
- With heavy rainfall possible over the winter months, delaying until spring would have carried too great a risk. The amount of debris removed from the drainage pipe was significant and much greater than anticipated; leaving the debris in place any longer could have resulted in a serious blockage and flooding during heavy rainfall.

10. Should Klahanie residents still be worried about flooding?
- The presence of the debris within the pipe system did present a flood risk. That’s why the City removed it from the drainage pipe. 
-  The City will continue to monitor water levels resulting from the beaver dam, which is located downstream of the pipe outlet. 

11. If the beavers stay in Pigeon Creek, how will they impact the water, fish, vegetation, trees, etc.? 
- If the beavers build a higher dam, there’s a higher chance of flooding and damage to City infrastructure.
- Trees may be at risk, as the beavers may attempt to use them as a food source. The potential felling of large nearby trees could present a risk to public safety and nearby buildings.
- Over the coming months, staff will monitor any expansion of the beavers within the Klahanie reach of Pigeon Creek to determine the extent of any new bank dens and risk they may pose for bank erosion and bank stability.
- The City will monitor effects on the surrounding habitat.

12. Can the beavers be relocated? If so, when and where?
- It is possible for beavers to be relocated. This process is managed and regulated by the provincial government, and a permit would be required.
- The City is not currently considering relocation.

13. Other municipalities in Canada are successfully co-existing with beavers. Is co-existence possible at this site?
- Co-existence with wildlife is ideal, and the City recognizes the community’s desire to enable the beavers to stay. This can happen when there is no risk to public safety, infrastructure, or the local ecology, and no risk of flooding. 
- The City will continue to monitor the activity of the beavers. This includes monitoring any associated flood risk, and the impact on the water and riparian vegetation in Pigeon Creek.

14. If the water levels become a problem, can the City install a flow device?
- The City may consider a flow device should it prove beneficial. 
- Trees may be at risk, as the beavers may attempt to use them as a food source. The potential felling of large nearby trees could present a risk to public safety and nearby buildings.
- It’s important to remember that Pigeon Creek is not ideal habitat for beavers. It’s a small creek system surrounded by dense urban development, with minimal resources for beavers. It’s near major roads, which may present a safety risk to the beavers if they must search farther afield for sources of food.
- Ideal habitat would contain enough suitable forage trees to last a beaver colony 8 to 10 years. Suitable food supply is very limited in Pigeon Creek for a growing beaver population.

15. How are beavers able to live in other Lower Mainland locations?
- Beavers can be found in locations where there is a large enough habitat area for a beaver colony to expand, and enough suitable food supply to sustain them over time.
- Beavers living in small, dense, urban areas, like Klahanie, will over time need to search great distances for food. This presents a safety risk, as the beavers may need to cross busy roadways to find food.
- Two adult beavers were recently killed in Coquitlam, when they were struck by a vehicle on Dewdney Trunk Road on November 11, 2017. Given this occurred at night, the time when beavers forage for food, it is highly likely the beavers were searching for food away from the Pinnacle Creek site they were living in when they were struck. 

 

Last updated: 20/12/2017 7:40:33 AM