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Kids learn how to baffle Bergland beavers

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The Fort Frances Junior Conservation Club was busy as beavers on Friday at the home of Ron Orton near Bergland.

The club joined forces with Tony Elders and Arlan Hahkala of the Ministry of Natural Resources to work on” baffling” some beavers near the Orton residence.

Orton said that beavers had built dams all around his property and had created ponds that were threatening his property. Rather than ripping the dam apart every day and having the industrious critters rebuild it, he filed a complaint with the MNR.

Elders said that MNR does not deal with problem beavers very much anymore. MNR tends to ask area trappers to intensify their efforts to alleviate the problem. However, with such a low market value for beaver pelts, those efforts are not addressing all the problems.

Elders had knowledge of a system used by Hahkala in forest fighting situations to keep roads from being washed away. He called up Orton and asked if he would be willing to let them try and baffle some beavers. He agreed and on Friday the Jr. Conservation club journeyed with Elders, Hahkala and several parents to try to baffle some beavers.

The process involved digging out the centre of the dam to the level that they would like to see the pond maintained at. Then four 25-foot-long pieces of weeping-tile were strapped together and placed in the hole in the dam. They were then weighted down and anchored. Then some of the sticks and mud they removed from the dam were put back.

The idea is that the beaver would build the dam back up on top of the weeping-tile. Beavers hear flowing water and will build to stop it. However, with the tile, they can not hear the water flowing so they do not plug up the tile. And even if they plug up the ends of the tile, it has holes all long it so the water should keep flowing.

“This way we do not have to get rid of the beavers and people can live in harmony with them,” said Elders.

The method has been fairly successful in areas all over the country. Elders said that the club accessed a Community Fish and Wildlife Involvement Program grant to pay for their materials. The club then supplied the labour.

Elders hopes that by showing groups how to do this that the beaver problem can be better taken care of by area residents.

The Orton dam is a pilot project and MNR plans to return o see how well it is working and, if successful, encourage more baffling of beavers.

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