Skaha pond

A culvert and sticks line the edge of a stormwater retention pond in Skaha Lake Park, where three beavers were trapped and killed last month.

Industriousness killed the beavers.

Three of the flat-tailed, sharp-toothed animals were trapped and euthanized last month after making nuisances of themselves in the stormwater retention pond on the east side of Skaha Lake Park in Penticton.

Len Robson, the city’s manager of public works, said the beavers were damming culverts and other equipment within the system, potentially putting the public at risk.

“If we let the beavers go in there, that pond won’t work and we end up backing up South Main Street and all those other areas during a flood event, so, unfortunately we have to exterminate the beaver from time to time,” said Robson.

“It’s not one of those things we like to do – it’s a necessity.”

Robson said the number of beavers that need to be removed from the pond varies on a year-to-year basis, with no animals destroyed in 2021.

Because special permits and licences are required to deal with the beavers, the city contracts with an Okanagan-based trapper to handle the job.

Generally speaking, beavers are not suitable candidates for relocation, according to Tim Killey, president of the BC Trappers Association.

“Even under good conditions, they have about a 20% survival rate,” said Killey, referencing a 2002 study from Wyoming.

And even if a trapper wishes to relocate beavers – such as lactating females with dependent offspring, which are protected under B.C. law – it’s not a matter of simply picking the next-closest pond.

“We go by the direction of government. If we want to relocate, we either have to ourselves find a suitable location or have a qualified professional, being a biologist, come up and find a location that’s suitable to relocate them to,” explained Killey.

The province also demands the pelts from off-season kills, such as the ones in Skaha Lake Park, so there’s no fur for the trappers.