The North American beaver (Castor Canadensis) ranges throughout North America. Intensively hunted for their valuable pelts at the turn of the century, the number of beaver plummeted to almost extinction. Since fashion trends veered away from using beaver fur, the species has since recovered to the levels we have today. Current estimates place the number of beavers in North America to between 6 – 12 million individuals. A large portion of Canada’s beaver population can be found in BC, where the current population estimate, according to the Ministry of Environment, is as many as 400,000-600,000 individuals.
Beavers are nature’s engineers. Their damming creates wetlands and ponds which are habitat for fish, water birds, amphibians and a host of other plants and animals. Unfortunately, the return of the beaver had created management issues on private and public lands. The beaver’s need to dam water causing extensive flooding and can damage crops, property and grazing lands.
Managing Beavers in Surrey
On public lands where beaver activity poses no threat to the public or property, the City of Surrey has a policy of no interference and their activities will be tolerated.
Private property owners are responsible for the primary control of beavers on their property, including agricultural waterways. On private property where there is no threat to public or property, the City of Surrey recommends that owners take a stewardship approach and not remove the beaver, dam or lodge. The City of Surrey can provide consultation services to the public on how to protect (or "beaver proof") your property, but assumes no liability for implementation.
Trapping of live animals will only be preformed when the animal does not disperse or when significant property damage is occurring, and other exclusion methods are not feasible. Relocation will be considered only if an appropriate receiving area can be identified and confirmed by a qualified professional wildlife biologist and Ministry of Environment accepts the relocation plan.
Beaver Proofing Your Property can include:
- Installing exclusion fencing:
- Prevents the colonization of new areas by installing fencing along the bottom and sides of watercourse.
- Install fencing early and allowing beavers to build against the fences for easier removal.
- Wrap mature and/or significant trees with hardware cloth or wire to prevent gnawing.
- Install fencing along watercourses near row crops, trees stands, riparian restoration sites and agricultural areas
- Install fencing around water control structures.
- Install beaver bafflers, beaver deceivers or other technologies in areas of chronic occupation, or where dams cannot be removed or destroyed.
- Dam removal where possible and only after obtaining appropriate approvals and permits from the Ministry of Environment and/or Fisheries and Oceans Canada.
- Installing trees and shrubs that are unpalatable to beavers. Some native species include red osier dogwood, salmonberry, cascara, spruce, and elderberry.