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Beaver spotted in Essex Centre



by Sylene Argent

When Essex resident Justin Deroy was driving along Talbot Street last Thursday morning, he had to take a double look at what he saw walking around Ken Knapp Ford’s parking lot.

  He thought he had seen a beaver, but was skeptical at first. Perhaps it was a muskrat or another critter. So, he pulled in to get a closer look. He was excited to see it was indeed “the guy on the nickel,” and Canada’s national animal symbol. He was slightly surprised at first at his discovery, although, he had heard of a resurgence of sorts of this flat-tailed critter in the area.

  “It was the greatest thing,” Deroy said

  Dan Lebedyk, a Biologist and Ecologist with the Essex Region Conservation Authority (ERCA), said there has been beaver activity noticed in the region. In 2017, he said, a dozen beavers were removed from the Hillman Marsh Conservation Area and another dozen beavers were removed from the Town of Leamington.

  Lebedyk noted that the beaver population would increase locally if they were not trapped. Beavers are trapped as damage is seen in conservation areas, such as to trees, or in their creating of dams in areas such as municipal drains.

  He was unsure what happens to the beaver after they are trapped by a licensed trapper, but he does not believe they are relocated to areas that are more suitable for them.

  The Conservation Authority, he said, does not necessarily advocate having beaver populations increase in the area as there is a lack of resources to sustain them. There are few predators, such as coyotes, that help keep their numbers in control.   

  “They do more damage than good,” Lebedyk said, noting there are efforts to add tree cover to the area for indigenous animals and birds, and beavers notably remove trees to build dams, which could further contribute to flooding issues. “It is one species causing more of a negative than positive impact.”

  ERCA is increasing natural coverage and prairie areas and is seeing positive impact of doing so, Lebedyk said.

  Though the reason why beavers have been headed to southwestern Ontario is unknown, he said some speculate what is noticed here are mainly older males who may be attracted to the area because of the warmer climate.

© 2020 The Essex Free Press ltd.

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