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Last updateTue, 16 Jul 2019 4pm

Riverside beaver “overpopulation” causes extensive damages


    Twenty beavers have been euthanized along Riverside Drive over the last two months as the area is showing signs of overpopulation, according to Drumheller’s director of protective services.
    The beavers were eliminated in the area along the river from the old hospital building on 6th Street East and the lift station near 19 Street East, where a number of trees have been felled by the large, primarily nocturnal, semi-aquatic animals.
     Drumheller Protective Service’s Greg Peters says there have been “signs of overpopulation” like scratch marks and wounds on the bodies of eliminated beavers which show they are fighting and bickering for resources here. While the town currently contracts a trapper to eliminate wildlife, Peters says he only eliminated 25 last year throughout the summer. This summer’s numbers are much higher, at 20

over the last two months.  
    “It’s like anything, the bigger the population you have, the more resources they need for more activity,” Peters said.
    Beavers fell trees for a number of reasons. They’ll knock down large trees

in strategic locations to form the basis of their dams. Dams protect against predators and provide access to food in the winter by allowing them to store food in caches. They work at night and can rebuild their primary dams in an evening.

    Peters says the beavers have been destroying trees along the river there and if they’re lost the integrity of the river bank starts diminishing due to erosion.
    “It can manifest itself in weird ways. We don’t want anything to erode the strength of the river bank.”
    The town contracts a licensed trapper who sets under water traps along the northeast side of the river, away from people and walking trails.
    Tim Schowalter, a local naturalist, says there are two reasons why municipalities might need to eliminate beavers: to prevent flooding caused by their dams or to save trees in areas such as parks or neighbourhoods.
    “It poses a legitimate conflict. Roads can be washed out or if they destroy your 30 year old tree, you won’t like that,” Schowalter said.
    Beavers are considered a keystone species in an ecosystem because they create wetlands that benefit other species. The species are thought to have the most influence on shaping a landscape, other than humans.
    Increased rains this year and an abundance of water and, subsequently, food in the river ecosystem might be bumping the population this year, or maybe a beaver population from another area such as Michichi Dam could have migrated to the area this summer, Peters and Schowalter said.

Fountain closes for season, replacement process begins

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    The fountain at Rotary Park will cease operations this year due to significant costs due to water loss, council decided Monday. 

    Infrastructure director Dave Brett made a recommendation to council to limit fountain operations, saying the fountain was projected to lose $37,378 in water in the 2019 season. Since May 27 about 1,600,000 litres of water was lost, equivalent to two swimming pools and costing the town an average of $277 per day during the last weekend of June. 

    “We have a significant amount of leakage happening and it’s increased significantly,” Brett said, adding the ground north of the park is waterlogged and risks damaging the park’s infrastructure. 

    The decision comes after a series of issues and closures due to the leakage stemming back to spring 2018.

    The fountain will likely be removed this September after the tourist season ends, CAO Darryl Drohomerski told council. The town will now look to hire a landscape architecture or engineering company to conduct public consultation and to look at a replacement ‘water feature’ to be built in spring 2020. Next year’s budget already has $250,000 allocated toward replacing the fountain as council knew it was nearing the end of its lifespan. 

    “We will be working with the public and community organizations, in early fall of

2019 to determine what kind of water feature to construct with implementation in spring 2020,” Mayor Heather Colberg said in a release. 

    Beautification work will be completed in the area for the remainder of the season. In a release the town said they’ll draft request for proposals for the project this week and asks the public to watch for public consultation sessions. 

    The fountain was originally built in 1996 and was classified as a pool in 2015.

Town toboggan hill coming this winter

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    Families will have a place to hit the slopes as the town will open a public toboggan hill when the white stuff returns this winter. 

    With a lot of land around the valley either privately owned or designated as a provincial park, tobogganers have had a tough go trying to find a smooth, safe place to ride. The town has worked over the last year to identify a public site where people could go. 

But town CAO Darryl Drohomerski says they’ve now chosen a few hills of different sizes behind Extra Foods and below the water tower.

    “We would set up different levels for different rides, for elevation, speed, etcetera,” Drohomerski said. “It offers people of all ages a winter activity to do that is easy and fun. While there are lots of hills in town, most are privately owned or are not safe to ride on. This provides a place that people can use without issue.”

Drohomerski said the town owns the land there and plans to grade the slopes and remove debris like rocks and glass. He expects the project will have a ‘minimal cost,’ which would include installing snow fencing to trap snow and mark off adjacent private land, as well as signage.

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