Whitehorse Daily Star

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EXTERMINATIONS NEEDLESS, GROUP SAYS – The Association for the Protection of Fur-Bearing Animals offered to build a flow device, as depicted above, around a Whitehorse culvert at no charge to save the beavers which had inhabited the Meadow Lakes Golf Course. One of the animals is seen below.

YTG spokeswomen didn’t mention beavers’ deaths

An animal advocacy organization’s offer to construct an exclusion fence around a culvert to remedy the beaver problem at a Whitehorse golf course has come too late.

By Rhiannon Russell on July 31, 2014

An animal advocacy organization’s offer to construct an exclusion fence around a culvert to remedy the beaver problem at a Whitehorse golf course has come too late.

Environment Yukon revealed late Wednesday afternoon the five beavers had already been killed.

Conservation officers dispatched the majority of the family on Friday, though a sixth remains on the loose.

In interviews with Department of Highways and Public Works spokeswoman Doris Wurfbaum and Environment Yukon spokeswoman Melissa Madden last Friday and Monday respectively, neither revealed the beavers had already been killed.

“We definitely weren’t keeping it a secret,” Madden told the Star when asked why this information wasn’t provided earlier. “We provided that information when asked.”

On Wednesday, the Association for the Protection of Fur-Bearing Animals sent a letter to Highways and Public Works Minister Wade Istchenko, offering to construct a flow device around the culvert at no charge in order to save the beavers.

They were threatening to block a culvert along the Alaska Highway, across the street from the Meadow Lakes Golf and Country Club, with their dam.

Michael Howie, the association’s director of digital content and special projects, expressed his disappointment today at the decision to kill the beavers.

“It is very unfortunate that these beavers were killed in what was likely a cruel way, particularly when other solutions are available,” he said.

“That being said, our offer to come to the area and build an exclusion fence to protect any future beavers, because there will be more, still stands.”

Wurfbaum said this morning that staff previously tried a humane preventative measure at the site.

A few years ago, they installed cones designed to keep beavers away from the culvert while still allowing water to flow through the pipe.

“However, it didn’t work,” Wurfbaum said. “The beavers just built a bigger dam that covered both the cones and the culvert.”

The department had obtained a permit from Environment Yukon to trap the beavers. In 2013, it obtained eight permits for this purpose.

Staff set traps late last week, but after public outcry, removed them and left dealing with the problem in conservation officers’ hands.

Madden said that when beavers are dispatched in cases of human-wildlife conflict, the hides and flesh are salvaged and may be used for trapper education.

“It’s early in the year as far as beaver development goes so they wouldn’t be considered good-quality fur,” she said, adding that this makes the hides appropriate for these training workshops.

Environment Yukon offers courses throughout the year which teach trappers basics like how to properly skin an animal. The beaver flesh also can be used as bear bait for research purposes, when scientists have to get close to bears, Madden said.

Howie explained to the Star Wednesday how the installation of an exclusion fence, a trapezoid-shaped device, has proven effective in other Canadian cities when it comes to preventing culvert blockages and allowing beavers to continue to live in the area.

The association offered to install the fence, constructed from materials available at a hardware store for about $400 to $600, at no charge. It also volunteered to teach department staff how to build such a device.

Howie said they last up to 10 years, and require little maintenance.

In Mission, B.C., he said, the association built a couple of flow devices that have since formed the town’s entire beaver management program.

“If one beaver found the site desirable, another will as well,” he said.

“When you remove a dam or remove beavers, other beavers will come and build a new dam, which means more trees are taken down. It’s sort of a never-ending cycle of problems.

“But when you learn to co-exist with wildlife, everybody wins, including the people, including the beavers, including the landscape.”

Wurfbaum said Istchenko will reply to the association’s letter, but could not say whether the department would accept its offer of free training to build these devices in the future.

Beaver dams create valuable ecosystems, Howie said.

At one time, there were up to 60 million beavers in North America. That number has dwindled to three million.

“You often hear about the need for wetlands and biodiversity,” he said.

“One of the reasons we simply don’t see that anymore is because we’ve gotten rid of so many beavers.

A dam creates a habitat that’s ideal for juvenile salmon and wetlands are an important home for often-endangered critters like frogs, toads and salamanders, Howie said.

“I’d like to offer condolences to the people who have visited those beavers over the last few years. It’s always a sad time when any life that we’ve come to recognize as an individual is lost.”

Comments (17)

Up 11 Down 7

north_of_60 on Aug 5, 2014 at 7:17 pm

@Joella is correct. There is information on proven beaver exclusion fences that Highways and Environment could have accessed to find a permanent solution.
Their knee-jerk killing reaction demonstrates a willful ignorance that we as taxpayers should not tolerate from our government employees.

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 too ignorant to modify their behavior.

Up 10 Down 16

Mike Grieco on Aug 5, 2014 at 5:30 am

The killing solution, and the Wilderness-less City!

YTG's propaganda machine - an endless resource.....

Up 20 Down 27

melba on Aug 4, 2014 at 11:53 am

How slimey does it get. Doris Wurfbaum and Melissa Madden gave interviews with canary feathers sticking out of their mouths, discussing alternate solutions and why they planned to kill the beavers knowing full well the beavers were already dead. "We definitely weren’t keeping it a secret. We provided that information when asked.”

These two women have zero ethics. Must be what they learn in Yukon Government communications school: being a spokesperson means keeping secrets. Ever heard of a LIE OF OMMISSION? You two bloody well knew what you were doing and any human being with a semblance of decency would have come forth with the information.

Up 25 Down 24

Spruce Woodland on Aug 2, 2014 at 5:35 pm

How much of my tax goes to Highways? How much goes to the Yukon Party which does not listen to me and the silent majority and is hell bent on destoying the Peel Watershed. Its ecological vandalism!

It's time for a new world order. If highways and the Yukon Party do stupid things that do not serve people like me, we should not have to pay as much in taxes.

Next time do some basic research and save helpless animals rather than kill them. Spokespersons who play games should be sent home. Please represent me, represent the average person, and save beavers and other creatures who live along or highways.

Really! who steps up and speaks for those poor animals who are just trying to provide for their family- what about hunting of vulnerable bears along our roads. The highly paid spokespersons in the highways and environmental departments should be ashamed of themselves.

This is just like...... you can provide your own example.

Up 32 Down 7

frank woodlot on Aug 1, 2014 at 2:53 pm

Spokespersons for Yukon government should not practice non-disclosure like elected politicians.
In this situation it’s unfortunate the conservation officers did not ask highways to put more effort into a solution that would allow these beavers to live.

In defense of the YG conservation service, they are usually very good at finding solutions that do not kill animals. I wish they would speak with the media rather than having a media spokesperson do it. People may be less inclined to criticize if they know how the CO’s approached this situation.

Up 21 Down 26

Sandy Helland on Aug 1, 2014 at 10:30 am

Sad. That could have been a tourist attraction conveniently close to the city.
A small attraction but, nonetheless, something different on our limited list of interesting outings inside our "wilderness city."

Up 23 Down 25

salar on Aug 1, 2014 at 9:43 am

Beaver Dams....in salmon bearing streams, prevent salmon from completing their migration, thus adding to the imminent demise of the pacific salmon........who's upset about losing our FOOD source?
If these beavers were not dealt with.....again, being in close proximity to humans pretty much predisposes them to being a problem.....the highway could possibly have washed out. Water is powerful and beavers know how to harness it. Imagine the indignation of grocery shoppers when trucks couldn't get to superstore for those three days it would take to fix the road.
There are likely no salmon in that water system.....as likely due to the putrification the golf course creates with all the fertilizer used to keep the greens greener....or the fact the water course has been altered by the golf course builders so it's more pleasing/challenging to hit balls around and for use in watering all that manicured lawn.....gotta keep that 'natural' look after all....FORE!

Up 19 Down 28

Kimberley on Aug 1, 2014 at 12:47 am

I am outraged that those beavers were killed. We build in their territory and they are the ones thrown out or in this case, executed. A few years ago it was the grizzly cubs at Ross River after their mother killed a miner. Then it was the mother bear a few weeks ago. Thank god the cubs were sent to Smithers to be rehabilitated and set free unlike the Ross River cubs. Now the beavers. When is it going to stop? The Yukon Conservation Officers seem to be gun happy. Why did YTG not accept the Association for the Protection of Fur-Bearing Animals offer of help to protect these beloved animals. Because it's easier to just kill them and get rid of the problem. Well what are you going to do if more beavers move into this area? Kill them too? I love the Yukon but YTG you suck.

Up 21 Down 25

geroots on Jul 31, 2014 at 11:48 pm

It's no surprise to me. The extermination of urban wildlife has been going on since I moved here 30 years ago. The term renewable resources and wilderness city are a joke. It's for tourist to think we actually tolerate and live with animals. Bullshit. A shoot to kill policy lives strong in Whitehorse and always has. Shame on you, you so -called "conservation officers" there's no conservation of animals here.

Up 22 Down 17

Joella on Jul 31, 2014 at 10:17 pm

So the cones didn't work. No one at Highways nor Environment thought of an exclusion fence? Google beaver exclusion fencing, perhaps one of the "About 2,640,000 results" would have provided a workable idea.

Up 21 Down 23

bobbybitman on Jul 31, 2014 at 10:09 pm

Toscana, the owner of the golf course wanted the beavers to be left alone. It was the department of highways and public works that ordered them to be killed, and our trigger happy CO's that murdered them. They did not have to die, but it seems that some people like to kill. Melodramatic? I don't think so. There was a simple solution that these so-called professionals should have known about. And if any of them cared to keep the beavers alive, they could have done a simple google to find out that this is working in other parts of Canada.

Once more I am disgusted with the yukon government and their ineptitude, or worse, their authoritarian dictates against the will of Yukoners, and against animals and the environment.

Up 21 Down 20

Max Mack on Jul 31, 2014 at 9:15 pm

Cause only "officials" employed or contracted by government should be able to kill stuff with guns and explosives. Especially if they have a badge and an impressive looking utility belt. Kind of like Batman . . . with guns.

Regular folk are, you know, so "folksy".
But seriously, why on earth would the "spokespeople" not reveal that the beavers had already been killed? Not hiding it my a**! Who do they think they work for? The US State Department?

Up 26 Down 30

whatiswithpeoplenowdays on Jul 31, 2014 at 6:37 pm

I cant believe the level of ridiculousness in this story. 5 beavers were killed that were ruining public and private infrastructure. Is there an outcry every spider that gets stepped on?

Up 23 Down 18

June Jackson on Jul 31, 2014 at 6:10 pm

This is so sad..and so needless...One more thing for this Government to be ashamed of.

Up 13 Down 20

Adele Sandrock on Jul 31, 2014 at 5:54 pm

... and another 'coup' of our secretive government. Mrs. Wurfbaum do you seriously think Mr. Istchenko will reply in any? Mrs. Madden and do you think the government will answer when being asked? Reality shows it doesn't make a difference if the government is being asked or not - they will not answer questions unless how much money they pump in the economy.
In this regard I vividly remember the story about the deer farm years ago and the disrespect this government is showing not only for animals - no humans are disrespected as well (not quite trapped or shot, but we are getting close to it). I sincerely hope that Yukoners will make the right decision in the next election and kick this government to the curbside. Perhaps we have then another pharmacy in town, more realtors and for certain a new prison guard.
I wonder how government hides are working for training purposes.

Up 37 Down 30

north_of_60 on Jul 31, 2014 at 4:48 pm

Shoot first, ask questions later. That's how Yukon 'Environment' rolls.
Their 'solution' comes as no surprise.
"Wilderness City", what a cruel joke.

Up 27 Down 38

Toscana on Jul 31, 2014 at 4:37 pm

OF COURSE they were killed. Environment reacts first with a gun, instead of working with the problem and allowing the public to participate in answers. They killed the mother bear last month. Now, a whole family of beavers have been annihilated so a golf course wouldn't be bothered. So disappointed. A fence could have solved things, but no...give ''conservation officers'' a gun and kill the innocent wildlife. Take away their homes. How many ways can you say "Environmentally Unfriendly" - that's the Yukon!

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