A beaver spotted in Verdun
When a city dweller thinks of wildlife in Montreal, the first images that may come to mind are those of a raccoon ripping open garbage bags, a a seagull chowing down on a fry in midair, a gluttonous squirrel getting perilously close to a picnic, or even a coyote prowling around looking for its next snack.
Think again! Montreal is also the nest of a slightly more stubborn animal: the beaver. While strolling along the banks of the borough of Verdun, you may be lucky enough to see it.
A beaver was seen on April 13 around 6:30 p.m. on the banks of the southern tip of L’Île-des-Sœurs in the borough of Verdun. Photo: Courtesy.
If the appearance of this twilight wild animal seems surprising in the middle of the city, “it’s nothing new”, assures the biologist at the Zoo Ecomuseum Elizabeth Landry.
“It’s been several years since the borough de Verdun is keeping an eye on the situation, she continues. The beaver population has been recovering since our years of the fur trade, so there are more and more of them.” On the City of Montreal's website, it is indicated that Verdun annually counts five or six beavers on its territory.
A few years ago, the presence of these mammals along the shore caused the devastation of several trees along the St. Lawrence River, in the L’Île-des-Sœurs and Montreal East sectors. This particularly worried the surrounding population because a reduction in the number of trees on the banks also implies greater soil erosion.
“In winter, beavers feed on the inner bark of trees. Several of their favorites, such as poplar, boulot and willow, are found in the corner of L’Île-des-Sœurs. It should also be remembered that beavers are rodents, so the incisors are constantly growing. They have to wear down their teeth.”
To prevent them from munching more in this open buffet, thousands of trees in Montreal have since been covered with wire netting.
While cities may have had a grudge against beavers after their unwelcome visit, Elizabeth Landry recalls that it’s a “very important” animal for the ecosystem. Many benefits flow from beaver dams.
“The construction of dams makes it possible to raise the level of the water and allows the beaver to move there. At the same time, it creates a marshy area which is beneficial for birds, small mammals and amphibians. They are all interconnected animals in the food chain. Amphibians eat hundreds and thousands of insects, which is good for everyone,” she laughs.
Some advice to get in the tooth
< p>Anyone who comes face to face with a beaver should exercise caution, as with any encounter with other wild animals, advises the biologist.
“You should not approach them and you will not never feeds, insists Ms. Landry. The animal is autonomous, it is able to feed itself”. An indication that must be taken seriously, at the risk of “desensitizing them to humans”.
“The beaver will become more and more brave, outraged, and tend to get too close to humans,” continues the biologist. In the latter case, you have to move away or make noise in more problematic cases.
In short, you have to keep in mind that it is as an observer that you can better appreciate these rare moments that the urban fauna has in store for us.