Vancouver’s Beaver I.Q.

   Posted by heidi08 On April - 16 - 2013

A photo of the beaver sighted at the Olympic Village. Photograph by: Vince Kwok

Olympic Village gets furry new resident – beaver moves in

By JESSICA BARRETT, VANCOUVER SUN

A beaver had been spotted in the man-made water channel in Hinge Park on Friday and MacKinnon was curious to confirm the flat-tailed rodent had indeed moved in.

For 20 minutes, MacKinnon watched the beaver — he estimates it is about two years old — as it swam the length of the small wetland and sauntered up on the bank. The animal doesn’t seem to have built a lodge yet, and appeared fairly comfortable with its exposure to humans, said MacKinnon, author of the best-selling 100 Mile Diet and a self-described amateur naturalist.

Unusual as it may seem, the Olympic Village beaver is part of a trend, said Robyn Worcester, conservations program manager at the Stanley Park Ecology Society. “They’re turning up pretty regularly right now,” she said.

This lovely article has some of the very BEST descriptions of beaver dispersal that I’ve ever seen in the paper. In fact, I’m starting to think that Vancouver is giving Washington a run for its money as having the highest  beaver-IQ in the Northern Hemisphere….if not the world.  Just look at the description from Robyn Worcester of the Stanley Park Ecology Society:

This time of year many young beavers are settling in city parks along the waterfront after leaving the ponds they grew up in to find their own habitat. Eventually they find their way to the Fraser River, which spits them into English Bay or Burrard Inlet, Worcester said.

“They have to find their way to the nearest fresh water body. Generally they’ll hit Jericho and they’ll hit Stanley Park … and now they’ll go so far as the Olympic Village.”

Honestly, I can’t tell you how many articles I’ve read where folks were stunned that beavers were milling around in the spring, showing up uninvited, while reporters and ecologists seemed to scratch their heads and fail to understand why they were on the move. Infestation? Illegal Migration? Bachelors gone wild? The mystery of beaver dispersal apparently confounds most of the known world, even though it happens every year. It also happens to be the source of one of my very most beloved photos of all time.


But apparently the ‘mystery’ is no mystery to Vancouver. Not only do they understand beaver behavior and dispersal, they apparently know the routes they’re likely to use to get there! Hats off to Robyn and the great reporter on this article. Although I sent them emails to update their understanding of this:

beavers are often in a hurry to get out of salt water because it makes them ill.

Obviously the occasion called for a little Greg Hood and ‘salty seaside ponds‘.

even some beaver researchers, are unaware that beaver can be found in estuarine tidal marshes when the salinity is less than 10 parts per thousand (seawater is typically 30-35 ppt, while freshwater is less than 0.5 ppt).

As well a liberal showing of this video at their next staff meeting!

How do I know Vancouver is getting smarter than Washington about beavers? Remember my post about Adrian and the installation in Mission earlier? Adrian thanked me and sent this back:

When I drove back out to Mission to look at the property I started seeing culvert fences in all the ditches. Apparently the city now has 9 flow devices in that they’ve been building themselves.

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