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How many beavers is too many for Calgary’s Prince’s Island Park?

CALGARY – Iconic symbol, ecological hero and nasty pest – the beaver is all three, and the city of Calgary is faced with a family of the furry creatures that are threatening trees in Prince’s Island Park.

A dam was recently built by the beavers, and dozens of trees have been destroyed on the east end of the island.

“There is a bit of damage here…I mean the beavers have clearly been busy in this area,” said Chris Manderson, urban conservation lead at the City of Calgary. But he admits some of the animals’ work is a benefit to the park.

“After the flood, they actually came in and built some dams to patch up some areas breached in the flood.”

There are estimated to be several hundred beavers living in Calgary, clustered along the Elbow and Bow Rivers. One beaver can easily kill more than a hundred trees a year, which is a concern for the city, especially in its most-used park.

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Manderson says the city is considering whether it makes sense to let the family stay in Prince’s Island Park, or perhaps limit the number of beavers allowed to stay.

“After the flood there has been a lot of change,” he said. “There are new areas the beavers are exploiting that they may not have in the past…what we do is keep on top of that with increased monitoring and wiring. I don’t know if there is a major number that I can say, ‘this size of park, this many beavers,’ I don’t know if it’s that easy.”

The city also wants to protect the trees and areas around the lagoon, said Manderson, but without harming any of the animals. The last thing officials want to do is to trap or relocate any beavers, as that too often ends in the animals’ death. The first option is to encourage the beavers to move along on their own.

Doug Vaessen / Global News

With files from Erika Tucker

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