Jericho beavers at risk of predators, unsafe habitat due to drought conditions

Jericho Beach Park’s beavers are feeling the effects of the ongoing drought, and one expert tells Angela Bower they may soon be looking for a new place to live, with higher water levels that will hide them from coyotes.

By Pippa Norman, Ben Bouguerra and Angela Bower

At least six beavers have dammed up the ponds in Jericho Beach Park, but one wildlife expert says without some wet weather soon, these furry residents may soon be forced to relocate.

Due to ongoing drought conditions in the Lower Mainland, Adrian Nelson, the wildlife program manager at Humane Solutions, says the water levels in the Jericho parks are creating a dangerous habitat for the animals.

“The more water beavers have, the safer they’re going to feel. If water levels start dropping significantly it puts them at risk of having the entrances of their lodges exposed,” Nelson said.

a beaver dam sits in a pond at Jericho Beach Park with extremely low water levels

Ponds at Jericho Beach Park experience low water levels, putting the beavers who live there at risk of forced relocation. (CityNews image)

Less water means the beavers are more vulnerable to predators such as coyotes, he said. Usually, when their habitat dries up, they move on.

But a loss of beavers would mean a loss for the entire park’s ecosystem according to Edward Kroc, assistant professor of urban ecology at the University of British Columbia.

“Beavers are generally part of our ecosystem in the lower mainland,” Kroc said. “They can create nesting habitats for birds and extra windows for feeding resources for other wildlife.”

In a statement to CityNews, the Vancouver Parks Board says they do their best to wrap vulnerable trees with wire mesh, to allow the beavers to maintain their habitat. It adds coexistence with wildlife is a priority for the board.

Dirk Klassen has been a regular Jericho Beach Park visitor since 1979 and says he’s seen many beavers in the park over time.

He’s grown attached to the furry residents and hopes some wet weather will shower Vancouver soon to help convince them to stay.

“We need lots of rain, or maybe the city can bring down a few water trucks, but I know there is a shortage of water so we can’t pump it full of water, can we?” Klassen said.

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This isn’t just a Jericho issue either. Nelson says throughout the province, wetlands are drying up and there’s a decrease in water tables.

However, he believes nature — including the beavers — are resilient and won’t be going anywhere anytime soon.

“They will adapt to survive,” he said. “We generally see more changes in behaviour during the drier months than the wet months.”

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