The shooting of a beaver at Three Mile Bend Recreation Area, the City’s off-leash dog park, has become a national news story.
City Parks Superintendent Trevor Poth, who received dozens of calls and e-mails from media and the public from across Canada and even internationally, says, “We were surprised. We got media calls and concerned calls from everywhere, all across Canada, from across the States, as far as San Francisco, and I even got inquiries from as far away as Australia.
“People are pretty passionate about wildlife. We’re passionate about wildlife, but it’s all helped provide a good discussion about wildlife issues.”
While some of the reaction was negative and put Red Deer in a bad light, most of the reaction was positive and along the lines of leave the beavers alone, they’re just defending their turf and/or their young.
Last week it was confirmed that a dead beaver found at Three Mile Bend by a canoeist had been shot.
That news came after several reported cases of dogs being attacked by a beaver and one of the dogs dying from its wounds. The City considered removing or relocating beavers in the park, but with no recent reports of attacks, Poth now says there is no need to take action.
The park, a reclaimed gravel pit, is noted for its wildlife, including moose, deer, nesting osprey and a wide variety of birds, as well as beaver. Usually dogs, people and wildlife get along okay.
Carol Kelly, executive director of the Medicine River Wildlife Centre, which often deals with problem wildlife, says, “If you move the beaver, whatever method you use, more will take their spot. From the comments I’ve been hearing from the public, the most common thing is why don’t they move the dog park to an open field?”
“We still monitoring the issue,” added Poth. “That park has been used for 25 years and this is the first time we’ve had a problem; we got seven complaints in two weeks. We’re assuming the shot beaver was the one responsible for the attacks, but there’s no way to know for sure. A lot of the controversy comes from a lack of information and it’s given us a chance to inform more people about wildlife issues.”
Poth notes that while beavers were once an endangered species because of over-trapping and habitat disruption, the animals now are very numerous, numbering in the millions and that they can cause problems with flooding and destruction of trees. But for now, at least, Three Mile Bend beavers are safe.
The City erected more signage in the park warning users about wildlife in the area and will distribute information to park users about co-existing with wildlife. However, the City is also reminding dog owners that they are responsible for maintaining control over their pets, even in an off-leash park.
But the City and the RCMP are concerned that a firearm was used in a city park. RCMP Insp. Ray Noble says, “This has become more than an issue of wildlife in Red Deer’s park system; this is now a serious breach of public safety. By illegally discharging a firearm within City limits and killing wildlife in our park system, this individual has committed a crime, and if caught, appropriate action will be taken.”
Anyone with information about the beaver killing should contact the RCMP at 403-343-5575. Anyone concerned about aggressive wildlife can contact Alberta Fish and Wildlife at 403-340-5142.