Whitehorse Daily Star

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Photo by Christopher Reynolds

DEMISE PENDING – One of the members of the beaver family the Yukon government has ticketed for ʻdispatchʼ is seen in October 2013 at the Meadow Lakes Golf Course.

Government orders beaver family destroyed

A family of beavers who have become a signature part of the fairway experience at Meadow Lakes Golf Course are headed for extinction, with the Yukon government looking down the barrel.

By Whitehorse Star on July 29, 2014

A family of beavers who have become a signature part of the fairway experience at Meadow Lakes Golf Course are headed for extinction, with the Yukon government looking down the barrel.

The Department of Highways and Public Works has received a permit from Environment Yukon to fatally shoot or snare the beavers.

The reason: they are building dams that threaten to block a culvert near the course.

“They’ve recently crossed the road and begun building smaller dams under one of our culverts that runs under the Alaska Highway,” said Doris Wurfbaum, a Highways and Public Works spokesperson.

The department can now hire a licensed trapper “to humanely trap and what they call ‘dispatch’ the beavers,” she said. “And the term dispatch means destroy.”

If the culvert became fully blocked, the section of highway above it could get washed out, Wurfbaum said.

“Our number one priority and responsibility is to make sure that our infrastructure is safe for the public ... it’s nothing that we’d like to do or want to do.”

Consisting of at least four members — a sizable mom and dad as well as two smaller offspring — the beaver family has made the golf course its home for the past two winters.

They boast a prominent lodge on the pond nestled between the sixth and seventh holes.

The industrious rodents — part of a longstanding lineage as a Canadian national symbol — can often be seen, especially in the fall, transporting branches across the links, braving the golf balls that slice and hook through their backyard.

They’ve even made the final hole simpler for local golfers, gnawing a dogleg left into a more gradual curve by chopping down many of the trees that act as obstacles to a direct line from fairway to green.

“That hole is aptly known in our group as the Kracken, because it continually kicks our ass,” said local golfer Josh Wiebe, referring to a mythic Nordic sea monster and/or black spiced rum.

“So having the beavers there clearing the corner is helpful to our game.”

Jeff Luehmann, who owns Meadow Lakes, has come to appreciate the semi-aquatic creatures that roam his turf, and frowns at their impending “dispatch.”

“Without a doubt, it would be a terrible loss, not just for me but for the public,” he told the Star Monday.

“We’ve had a lot of calls: ‘What’s going on with the beavers?’”

He said the beavers have helped inadvertently with course maintenance as well as the bottom line, bringing in families with young children who might not have come without the added attraction of a zoological novelty.

“These guys literally can take out all the willows (rimming the pond) so that it looks like a hedge. It would take me a month to do what they do in a week.”

The rodents of unusual size haven’t always been so helpful.

Luehmann has had to build weirs, unplug culverts and put up electric fences to mitigate their operations.

“Originally, they were a nuisance,” he said.

He even called conservation officers and requested sterilization to pre-empt further problems, which the officers resisted.

Luehmann noted the beavers usually “disappear down Fox Farm Road” for the summer, but this year have opted to set up shop right across the highway.

“I’ve seen the culvert. It’s probably half-blocked. Whether they’d continue to block it is anybody’s guess,” Luehmann said.

“Hopefully, the little buggers are smart enough ... to come back on the property.

“Maybe if there’s enough public outcry they might leave them alone ... but Highways is Highways, and government is government,” he added.

When “human-beaver conflict” is reported, conservation officers investigate and consider multiple resolutions, Environment Yukon stated.

A “minor intervention” like a fence is one possibility.

“If a minor intervention is not possible, then the options are to relocate or humanely destroy the beavers(s),” spokesperson Melissa Madden wrote in an email.

While relocation often seems more appealing, beavers are loath to leave their homes and could have trouble surviving in a new location, where they may be in competition with other beavers, she said.

“First, they need to be located in an area free of other beavers, re-build their houses, which uses up a significant amount of time and energy.

“If the beavers are nurturing their young while rebuilding, they will use up even more energy.

“And even if the beavers successfully rebuild, when winter comes, they may not have enough food stored to survive,” Madden explained.

“Additionally, trapping beavers is high-risk – they readily overheat when held in traps, very stressful, and it is difficult to capture the entire family group.”

Comments (31)

Up 12 Down 6

Sinc on Aug 20, 2014 at 6:00 pm

Really people, who cares? More publicity than if a real human life was lost. Don't you people work?

Up 6 Down 7

Chris on Aug 16, 2014 at 12:57 am

All I am seeing is more "CONSERVATION" by Environment. Just goes hand in hand with their black bear slaughtering campaign. I do believe the cowboys there killed 16 black bears last year. Keep up the good work YTG

Up 11 Down 6

Salat on Aug 8, 2014 at 9:44 am

North of 60
If you looked at the site from the perspective of a beaver you would see it has potential to hold a LOT more water....the beavers MO.....
'I just love my wilderness city, but I don't understand why the animals always want to be soo err......animally.

Up 16 Down 8

north_of_60 on Aug 6, 2014 at 6:45 pm

@ johnjack "Would you rather have the highway flooded?"

Get out from behind the keyboard and go look at the site and see how foolish that comment is. The highway wasn't going to flood, the government overreacted out of ignorance as usual. Don't follow their bad example.

Up 11 Down 16

johnjack on Aug 6, 2014 at 7:42 am

Would you rather have the highway flooded?

Up 24 Down 11

north_of_60 on Aug 1, 2014 at 4:04 pm

Five beavers killed. More beavers will migrate to this culvert to build dams.
That's what beavers do.

What will "Environment" do?
Keep killing beavers who decide to move into prime beaver habitat?

Perhaps this would be a good time for our government employees responsible for the environment to do some research and find better ways of designing culvert systems to stop beavers from blocking them.

For some of us "Wilderness City" means living in harmony with the wilderness creatures, not killing them when we're not smart enough to modify their behavior.

Up 31 Down 12

Sam A on Jul 31, 2014 at 11:40 am

Its too late folks, 5 of the beavers have been killed.

With all the engineers, environmental and communication staff at highways, the quick and deadly action shows they are out of step with the modern world. Think of the positive press they would have had if their communications spokesperson had said they were trying out fencing and other measures to prevent blocking of the culvert while allowing the beavers to live there.

In addition to state of the art permafrost research and conferences why not send someone out to see how other areas deal with beavers.

Think of all the feel good stories in the media about the golf course showcasing these beavers and Jeff's efforts to protect and live with them. It's a shame people like Jeff do not work for highways.

And yes, I have pulled a few beaver dams and know of screens that could have been placed to prevent the culvert from being blocked.

Up 27 Down 23

Salar on Jul 30, 2014 at 8:43 pm

There are people around the world without adequate food, shelter or healthcare.....some are under oppressive dictators and for a few meek but sincere words for mercy or in disagreement are imprisoned for years........Jesus, a few beavers are that irreplaceable, vulnerable and important?
Speak up for real reasons people.
Every good will suggestion here will see the beavers dead anyway! Relocate? In August? Send them where other beavers are? Holy cow!.....

Up 28 Down 16

Heike on Jul 30, 2014 at 8:13 pm

Canada was found on the BEAVER fur trade. This is something we should be proud of! Not enough trappers to take care of this, before they become a problem! My advise: Trap them, skin them, eat them! -And don't you roll your eyes at this, ...'cause you are propably eating meat from who knows where...and don't have a clue about ....anything...

Up 19 Down 12

just an opinion on Jul 30, 2014 at 8:07 pm

Has anyone tried taking out a beaver damn here? Sounds like one person has experience with it. The trouble with beavers is, if you dig a hole through a damn they will block it in hours. They will also try to block water movement anywhere it moves. Make a fence, they will use the fence and make that into the new damn.

Up 6 Down 10

north_of_60 on Jul 30, 2014 at 5:46 pm

It won't take explosives or heavy equipment to remove the beaver's attempt to block the culvert if it's done now. Go see for yourself.

Up 31 Down 13

P M on Jul 30, 2014 at 12:01 pm

Another thought.
Beavers are on holidays during the summer.

Keep the culvert clear for a few more weeks. Ask the Conservation society for volunteers or pay a highways employee or a contractor for a few hours work each each week.

In late August when the beavers start to focus on their food cache Highways will know where the beaver family is planning to overwinter. Their den will be within a few feet of the food cache.

Hopefully they will move back to the golf course where they are valued and protected. Highways needs an accommodation policy for wildlife.

Up 32 Down 12

jewls on Jul 30, 2014 at 9:23 am

This has been an on going issue with this for some time and it would of caused a big wash out, and funny how everyone is blaming highways for this or calling them lazy, I recall a few years ago when they worked endless hours & away from home to open up the Alaska Highway when it was washed out, and conservation has a big part of this too, not just highways. So to you, North of 60 before you call them lazy, remember that they work hard maintaining the highway everyday and to keep them safe for people even like you to get home.

Up 25 Down 34

Rob on Jul 30, 2014 at 7:15 am

Wish we could shoot or snare government officials that make stupid decisions like this!
I'm sure they can be relocated .... It's a shame to see 4 innocent animals killed for doing nothing more then what they are made to do!

Up 22 Down 22

BnR on Jul 30, 2014 at 6:20 am

People think Beavers are so cute until their actions directly affect them. Imagine the outcry from the public when, not if, the creek overflowed the highway blocking access. Ever try to take apart a Beaver dam? Think explosives not man power.

Up 27 Down 21

Yukon Brat on Jul 29, 2014 at 10:37 pm

Relocate them! Then, at least they'll have a fighting chance.

Hopefully, the government won't 'dispatch' me when I become an old, unproductive nuisance; using up more than my 'fair' share of health dollars and hogging a place in an old folks home.

Up 30 Down 22

June Jackson on Jul 29, 2014 at 7:58 pm

Killing something always seems to be our first choice..not surprising seeing how blood thirsty mankind seems to be. To slaughter the entire family? WTG YTG

Up 19 Down 24

Jason on Jul 29, 2014 at 6:48 pm

Absolutely stupid. Why not unblock it like north of 60 said. Totally lazy. Relocate them. We can't let the government do this. Well we let them walk over us anyways and do what ever they want. Maybe if people would start making groups that went against the government we could put and end to it. Like replace the government staff with people who are qualified and want to do some good for the yukon instead of killing it off and mining the ROCK(@&$!) out of it. And if there are these groups where do I sign up.

Up 25 Down 24

Josey Wales on Jul 29, 2014 at 6:36 pm

Wilderness city..eh? Yeah...W...T...F..Ever!
Pretend the beavers are drunks, then the government will leave them in peace.
so we cannot shoot wolves loitering around a hood without getting the storm troopers all gung ho to seize computers and put the shooter on a no fly list (OK that last bit never happened...but would if the "state actors" could).
...however we dare not let a family of beavers be beavers?
Is there not any sense left in this sty anymore?

North 60 "lazy government workers"? If I may correct you, Lazy government employees. Still carries redundancy with it, but is better descriptor.

Up 32 Down 13

P M on Jul 29, 2014 at 6:06 pm

I know of some Yukoners who spend over $400 dollars last year to prevent flooding and allow a family of three beavers and their muskrat houseguest to peacefully coexist on their property.

There are websites and literature available that outline simple low cost measures that can be undertaken to avoid destoying beavers. Highways should put more effort into undertaking measures that allow these beavers to live!

Fenced a few trees on their properties and undertaken other measures that cost of hundreds of dollars; these measures were undertaken to allow the beavers to live.

Up 26 Down 20

bobbybitman on Jul 29, 2014 at 6:01 pm

This is disgusting. They can build highways and bridges but cannot figure out how to keep a beaver from clogging a culvert. Easiest thing to do is to kill the whole family, dust off their hands and walk away. What kind of people work at highways? No imagination, no determination to figure out a solution. If they did take the time to figure something out, it could be used right across the country. Too much to ask. It's only wildlife just kill it, and the problem is gone. When is that kind of attitude going to be stamped out?

Up 26 Down 21

Jen Green on Jul 29, 2014 at 5:59 pm

Can we start a petition? It's ridiculous that we should even have to fight for the right to let this family live. Unblock the culvert and go from there. And how is a fence so freaking hard to build?

Up 19 Down 25

charles on Jul 29, 2014 at 5:54 pm

Why not just trap them and harvest the Meat and Hide to give to some Organization.Or stuff them and put them in a Museum.

Up 12 Down 31

Raven Dispatcher on Jul 29, 2014 at 5:19 pm

If dept of environment wants to kill things, why not start with useless animals instead of helpful ones? They can start with the 20 ravens ripping shingles off our roofs for their nests! Now that would be a useful 'dispatch' of a useless animal.

Up 16 Down 24

Denise Leschart on Jul 29, 2014 at 4:46 pm

About 20 minutes away at McIntyre Creek where the confluence of the creek meets the River there are already beaver families. Relocate the beavers there. It's not far away and there is no need to shoot them. Reminds me of Joni Mitchell's song..."pave paradise and put up a parking lot." Shame.

Up 25 Down 24

Adele Sandrock on Jul 29, 2014 at 4:45 pm

How about we extinct the Yukon Government? They do more damage than beavers.

Up 24 Down 20

Kimberley on Jul 29, 2014 at 4:44 pm

So here we go again. Creatures who were here first are inconveniencing man so what does man do? Kill the beavers. When are we going to realize that it is man encroaching on the wildlife's territory and not the other way around. Relocate them and let nature take its course instead of brutally killing them in cold blood.

Up 28 Down 17

Denise Leschart on Jul 29, 2014 at 4:42 pm

This is shameful. "A signature part of the fairway experience at Meadow Lakes Golf course" is simply going to be shot. Says an awful lot about this government to me.

Up 57 Down 29

jen on Jul 29, 2014 at 3:57 pm

Why not relocate them

Up 59 Down 31

jim kathrein on Jul 29, 2014 at 3:46 pm

The beavers resided there before there was a golf course LET THEM LIVE

Up 61 Down 27

north_of_60 on Jul 29, 2014 at 3:43 pm

Make Highways remove the dams that block the culverts. It would only take a couple of hours. Lazy govt workers can only think of the easy way out by killing the beavers.

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