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Olympic Village beavers not going anywhere, park board says

The Vancouver Park Board says it won't remove the beavers that recently surfaced in the Olympic Village. A biologist says the appearance of the animals is part of an incredible population rebound all over the South Coast.

'Beavers are here to stay ... we have to learn to live with them.'

At least one dam beaver is calling Olympic Village home these days. (CBC)

The Vancouver Park Board says it has no plans to remove the beavers that are calling man-made wetlands in the Olympic Village home.

The beavers, believed to be a pair, have built what park board biologist Nick Page called "quite a large" lodge in Hinge Park and could be ready to give birth to young in the spring.

Page says beaver populations have risen to "close to historic" levels in the South Coast since trapping declined, and in some cases are being seen in areas they haven't inhabited in over 50 years, so it's no surprise to see them at the Olympic Village.

"Five or 10 years ago we would hire a licensed trapper to live-trap and relocate the beavers to another habitat … Pitt Lake, or Maple Ridge or out toward Hope," Page said. "But those habitats are now full of beavers as well, so there's really no open habitat to relocate beavers to."

"We could hire a licensed trapper and relocate farther afield like Kamloops or Vancouver Island, but with an expanding population, beavers are going to be back in these parks in a year, two years, five years, and we'll only be looking at the same process again."

The beaver — or beavers — living by False Creek have built a large dam in the man-made pond at Hinge Park in Olympic Village. (Lisa Johnson/CBC)

Page says that while other areas have been impacted by flooding caused by beaver dams, the biggest problem they present in Vancouver is vegetation damage, particularly to trees.

Page says in the long term, the park board might change planting policies to avoid planting the beavers' preferred tree, the willow, near areas they are making their home.

But in the short term, the only management action the Park Board will take is wrapping larger trees, which are more at risk and regrow slower, with metal mesh and fencing off larger areas to exclude the eager beavers.

But will it be enough?

With these beavers believed to be paired up and already homeowners, is the city prepared to handle a beaver baby boom?

"We're still learning as we're going in terms of beavers. They haven't been in many of these parks in decades," Page said. "Beavers are here to stay in the city and we have to learn to live with them."

Vancouver Park Board biologist Nick Page says the biggest threat the beavers pose is destruction of vegetation. (Lisa Johnson/CBC)

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