Beavers busy in Bedeque Bay watershed

A homeowner in Freetown, P.E.I., says a beaver dam recenly blocked the Dunk River behind his property, causing water to rise in his back yard — and staff at the local watershed organization say he isn't alone.

'Over the past three years, we've noticed a major uptick in beaver activity'

The dam was removed Wednesday afternoon and a grate installed to keep the beavers from rebuilding. (Brian Higgins/CBC)

A homeowner in Freetown, P.E.I., says a beaver dam recently blocked the Dunk River behind his property, causing water to rise in his back yard — and staff at the local watershed organization say he isn't alone.

Scott Barlow said it was the first time in decades the toothy rodents plugged the river behind his house.

"Had one here 20 years ago, similar problem," said Barlow. "The end of last week, something didn't look right ... every day it's rising. We got a new spot starting to flood in the yard."

Chris Newell with the Bedeque Bay Environmental Management Association said Barlow isn't the only one.

The water was rising in Scott Barlow's back yard earlier this week. (Brian Higgins/CBC)

"Over the past three years, we've noticed a major uptick in beaver activity," said Chris Newell with the Bedeque Bay Environmental Management Association.

"We have seen some major structures on branches of the Dunk and Bradshaw Rivers."

Barlow's rural home backs onto a tributary of the Dunk River. The normally placid stream passes through a steel culvert under the road but late Tuesday, the inlet of the culvert was completely submerged and blocked with water continuing to rise — and pooling in Barlow's back yard.

On Wednesday afternoon, the dam was removed from the culvert and a grate placed in front to prevent the beavers from returning.

Beaver bafflers

"We like to have our yard a little bit drier than having a pond in it," said Scott's wife, Amanda. "It's just going to bring out more mosquitoes. Hopefully it goes away soon."

Justin MacNeill, left, and Chris Newell, right, with the Bedeque Bay Environmental Management Association climb a beaver dam on the Dunk River in Emerald. (Brian Higgins/CBC)

Barlow said he had notified the Department of Transportation about the blocked culvert.

The watershed group has a season-long permit from P.E.I.'s Department of Environment to remove or partly dismantle beaver dams on waterways. 

"We've targeted a lot of beaver dams for this year to remove," said Newell, "But we're actually looking for some land owners that don't want the beaver completely gone."

Newell said watershed staff planned to install a device to help stop flooding, while allowing beavers to keep their dams. It's basically a long pipe that runs under the dam, and siphons off just enough water to the beaver pond at a reasonable level.

"They're called 'beaver bafflers' or 'beaver deceivers'," explained Newell. 

"We're going to take it slow, make sure we're not doing damage — but we're eager to get out there and do some."

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About the Author

Brian Higgins

Brian Higgins is a CBC videojournalist on Prince Edward Island.