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Home is where the bark is for two Calgary-area beavers

Home is where the bark is for two Calgary-area beavers

Posted on: February 28, 2014
Author: Jennifer Kohle


12-week-old Aspen in the care of the Calgary Wildlife Rehabilitation Society

Two Albertans displaced by the southern Alberta floods have been getting some special attention from volunteers and staff of the Calgary Wildlife Rehabilitation Society.

Last June, two 10-week-old beavers were relocated to CWRS after the floods destroyed their lodges and displaced their mothers. Although the beavers were rescued on the same day, staff don't think they are related because they were found in different areas of Calgary.

"Beavers usually stay with their mothers for two years, so we knew they'd be in long-term rehabilitation with us," recalls Andrea Hunt, CWRS Business Administrator.

Because the duo would be around for a while, staff gave them names: Birch and Aspen.

Meet the bouncing baby boy and...girl?

Since the rescue, Birch and Aspen have grown significantly. Birch is the biggest at 8 kilograms and is also quite aggressive, so staff are fairly confident he is male. The gender verdict is still out on Aspen, who is smaller and much more timid. Jenna McFarland, CWRS' Senior Wildlife Technician, thinks Aspen is female, but it's impossible to confirm a beaver's gender without an x-ray and the CWRS only completes x-rays when they are medically necessary.

Whether they're adopted brothers or sister and brother, one thing is for certain: Aspen and Birch like to eat. A lot.

"Every day we give them a diet of leafy greens like chard, collard greens, or kale, and then provide them with some starches like sweet potatoes or squash. They also get an occasional piece of apple or carrot, which they love, but not too much because it's high in sugar," McFarland explains.

They also get full access to a supply of wood, specifically willow and aspen donated by rural volunteers. They eat the green layer under the bark of new growth and also eat bigger pieces.

Birch and Aspen also have an appetite for less nutritious snacks—like doors, floors, and kiddie pools.

"When they first showed up, our waterfowl pen had waterfowl in it, so we gave them kiddie pools to splash around in," McFarland recalls. "Within a day or two, they had chewed holes in them, so we got some agricultural trough tanks. Now they can dive and make lodges. They seem pretty happy."

It's costs like these that make rehabilitating beavers and other wildlife an expensive endeavour. That's why the CWRS is thankful organizations like ATB and everyday Albertans donate money to keep the program up and running.

"It costs quite a lot of money to build enclosures, especially when you want to keep them up to specifications," Hunt explains. "Funding is extremely important to us and very much appreciated because we couldn't do what we do without support."

Thanks to the hard work of CWRS staff and volunteers, and donations from Albertans like you, Birch and Aspen can enjoy another year of kale, apples, willow and other delicacies at their temporary home in northwest Calgary.

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