I grew up in Surrey, more specifically (for those who do not already know) Whalley. I went to West Whalley secondary and played in the Trojan Classic basketball tournament. I know Surrey like the back of my hand, well at least I used to… most places I recognized as being farms and agricultural land are now sprawling suburban garages for SUVs and families with 2.5 kids and 1.3 pets. The houses are packed so close together it looks like you could reach out your bathroom window and pass toilet paper to your neighbour.
Given this trend of new development and construction, people have also noted the logo change which went from the City of Parks with Sir E Beaver as the mascot to “The Future Lives Here” featuring a cement-grey highrise. (Side note, and for a brighter look at the City’s future check out Council candidate Paul Hillsdon’s “Green Spaces” platform).
Don’t get me wrong though, growth in Surrey is good – it’s always been a growing city – but there are concerns lately about the effects of such rapid growth is such a rich natural setting. One of the things I always loved about my hometown was that I was never more than a bike ride away from a park, forest, pond or stream – these were the things we truly cherished.
As for beavers, they are pretty much everywhere. Take a walk down under the Pattullo Bridge (careful for falling asbestos debris) and you’ll probably spot some. However they do tend to migrate and may not even be there the next time you stop by. Although the big issue lately has people crying foul after learning that dozens of beavers were killed last year since their dams were causing floods.
“B.C.-wide, the about 3,800 beavers are killed per year, 40 in this city alone last year.” [Surrey Leader]
The City of Surrey is looking at alternatives to killing the animals and there are nearly as many as there are theories for why feet keep washing ashore along our coasts.
Near Fort Langley, at Derby Reach Regional Park I heard there is such thing as a “pond leveler” that as been working quite well to control flooding caused by beaver dams.
This will require lowering water levels in the beaver ponds on either side of Allard northwest of the Ducks Unlimited Pond. The water level will be dropped for construction and then be permitted to recover to a new height maintained with pond levelers. This plan protects the road base of Allard Crescent and the waterline while providing a mix of wetland and old field habitat. [Derby Reach PDF]
The city of West Vancouver has been having success with the “beaver deceiver” plan and they suggest Surrey take this route as well. Delta, West Vancouver and King County, Washington also use “the device, which is being touted as a success.” [Surrey Leader]
Wire mesh around nearby trees caused the animals to move into a wetland area, where they began plugging drainage pipes, flooding a road and buildings. City workers would unplug the pipes, and the rodents would immediately start clogging them up again. Then the city tried out the “beaver deceiver,” a metal-mesh tube that extends beyond the end of the pipe. [The Province]
Other solutions include adoption but I’m even more skeptical about that. Mayor Dianne Watts remains committed to finding a humane solution and is working together with the SPCA, “Whether you’re drowning them, breaking their necks or breaking their backs, it’s unacceptable. In this day in age, with the technology we have available to us, we should not be killing our wildlife.” [Surrey Leader]
Our country was pretty much founded on the beaver pelt trade (just take a visit to historic Fort Langley or your nearest HBC to learn more) this really isn’t a new issue. I’m certain there can be an alternative to killing these animals in their natural habitat because I doubt the developments will stop any time soon.