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Apr 04.12

We're eager to protect beavers!

Posted In: Charity Pot >> Community

On a cool March morning, myself and two LUSH colleagues met Adrian Nelson of the Fur Bearer Defenders at their modest office in Vancouver.

Fur Bearer Defenders has been a LUSH Charity Pot Partner for several years, fighting against the commercial fur trade and creating opportunities to coexist with urban wildlife. We've also built a personal relationship with the organization; hosting information sessions in local shops and volunteering our time to work on projects. The three of us had volunteered our day to help a family of beavers in Mission, a community about 40 miles (65 kilometers) east of our head office in Vancouver.

Why beavers? The beaver is considered a keystone species in North America, increasing the number of plant species by 1/3rd in dammed areas. They've proven to be beneficial to water quality and their ponds provide habitats for fish, waterfowl and other aquatic animals.

Our drive out to the Fraser Valley provided some time for us to get to know Adrian and his role with Fur Bearer Defenders. Adrian is their Director of Communications, and has taken a personal interest in the humane management of urban beaver populations. He travels across North America to conferences about non-lethal management of urban wildlife to build on his knowledge and provides training and assistance to communities and municipalities on alternatives to lethal trapping procedures.


Our project for the day was to help a property owner who was experiencing flooding on his property due to beaver activity. The District of Mission had referred the property owner to the Fur Bearer Defenders rather than trappers (high five for Mission!), so we were eager to volunteer our time to provide a solution that did not involve harming the resident beavers. Adrian investigated the area and determined a beaver deceiver and pond leveler combination would be effective in preventing destructive flooding on the property. These contraptions allow a large pipe to run through the beavers' dam so that water can continue to flow, preventing damaging flooding. The pipe is protected at each end with large mesh cages which stops the beavers from blocking the flow.

In order to install the beaver deceiver, we first had to dismantle the existing beaver dam. We donned hip waders, braved near-freezing water and wielded rakes to pull debris from the dam. This was a surprisingly difficult task- the dam was incredibly solid! It wasn't just constructed of logs and branches, but was packed tightly with loads of dirt, leaves and rocks too. Beavers are industrious and use whatever materials are available to build their dams. Interesting examples are partial pallets and road signs!

While we were getting dirty dismantling the beaver dam, the other half of our team built the flow device on dry land. We all worked together in order to maneuver the device into the water when it was completed. The pond water was too deep to venture in with our hip waders, but Adrian bravely slipped into his wetsuit and went for a frigid swim to place the pipe and its mesh guard several meters into the pond. Once we had put the deceiver and pond leveler into place (and Adrian had regained feeling in his limbs!), we placed the displaced dam material against the deceiver. The beavers would likely return that evening to find their dam looking a little different than they'd left it, but they wouldn't waste any time getting to work and rebuilding their dam against the deceiver.

At the end of the day, we had accomplished quite a feat: we'd provided a long-term, effective solution so that resident beavers and the property owner can happily coexist, and we'd removed the need for the beavers to be trapped and killed. Hopefully this solution will serve as a testament that municipal beaver trapping is not necessary, and that with a little compassion it's possible to harmonize with these fantastic animals.

To learn more about the Fur Bearer Defenders and municipal beaver trapping and its alternatives, visit