Column: Dealing with those pesky beavers in the Shuswap

Shuswap Outdoors by Hank Shelley

As more folks and families move to or live in a rural municipal environment, it just seems they lose touch with nature and the creatures within.

One example that is a symbol of unity in early Canadian history and the fur trade it is the beaver. It’s on the face of our nickel. Grey Owl raised beaver kits, Jelly Roll and Rawhide, from his storytelling cabin in a national park. Trappers have relied on beaver pelts at fur auctions for income.

Eric Collier, author of Three Against the Wilderness, had beaver introduced to Meldrum Creek to raise water levels for farm use, trapping and to increase wildlife. Which it did. But, there’s more tales to tell about Shuswap beavers, good and bad, to entice the reader.

With a hefty appetite for birch, willow and aspen, and energy to burn, one decided to build a dam across the channel at Sicamous, starting with all the birch and willow along Twin Anchors’ dock and upstream. He was removed shortly after.

Cass’ home home looked down on the Salmon River At Swebb’s corner, where beaver had built a dam on top of a fish weir DFO had constructed. Phone calls to Salmon Arm and Kamloops DFO offices did no good, so she got her MLA and Victoria involved. Next day, a helicopter with a DFO supervisor and fishery officer landed in her yard, and this writer, as an officer/trapper, spent a week pulling and opening 13 beaver dams from Falkland to Salmon Arm for salmon passage, and had an open permit from Fish and Wildlife to remove by trapping a large number of the animals. This also took me to the Lumby area to remove dams and trap on Harris and Duteau Creek. Signs were posted, neighbors advised, but still traps were flung into trees and verbal abuse happened. The fish still got through to spawn.

Read more: North-Okanagan Shuswap hockey history: Where was the region’s first arena?

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Cedar Creek, flowing west into White Lake, has had a beaver issue for years. Two biologists over time wanted the beaver dams to stay. This impeded trout coming from the lake to spawn, leaping through or tangling in sticks and logs. A few seasons ago a trapper did remove a pair. Then a permit was granted to have the dams lowered. The kerfuffle continues as a new stocking in spring will be 50 per cent hatchery trout which will use the stream to spawn in.

In Merritt, the two teens playing hooky should not have kicked the conibear trap set on the very large beaver dam on the Nicola River. Ambulance paramedics and RCMP were called and Sgt. Brown ordered the constable to remove the trap. Brown didn’t see my Black Lab on the bank and just as he went out to help, the dog bailed in. Mud and water covered everyone. The lad that kicked the trap received a cracked ankle and recovered a bit wiser. Next week: herbicide use in our logging cut blocks.


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