Elementary school ‘eco clubs’ busy as beavers
As a member of the Bertrand Creek Enhancement Society (BCES), I had the pleasure of being invited to a presentation by local wildlife biologist Geoff Smart for the eco-club at Parkside Elementary School, the Environmental Science Investigators.
The BCES has been active in the Aldergrove community since 1993. Apart from sponsoring environmental clubs at Parkside and Shortreed Elementary Schools, BCES works to raise awareness, community pride and ownership of our local water course, Bertrand Creek. The group also removes invasive plant species from along the stream bank and plants native trees and shrubs in their place.
Geoff works for a local consulting firm where he is considered a “beaver specialist.” Although the students of the Environmental Science Investigators (ESI), grade 3-5, were already well educated in the characteristics and habits of beavers, Geoff explained what it meant to be a beaver specialist.
He engaged the students’ interest further by bringing in some of the tools of his trade, such as a live beaver trap, a Sherman trap and a Longworth trap, which are humane, live traps for trapping small animals.
Geoff’s job includes assessing property and ecological damage created by beavers and humanely relocating them, if necessary. He also traps and relocates other species, including potentially endangered coastal tailed frogs, western toad, pacific water shrew and a variety of interesting voles. Trapping and relocating the shrews has been especially tedious in the last year due to the daunting and ongoing construction of Highway 1 that will support the widening of the Port Mann Bridge. This construction area happens to be the shrews’ native habitat.
Another key aspect of Geoff’s job is locating birds' nests, especially those of the black-headed grosbeak and hermit thrush. The purpose of this is to locate inhabited nests before construction is started in an area, something I am happy to know developers do before beginning construction. It is a federal offence to harm or disrupt birds’ nests due to construction.
Although the students were keen to share their own knowledge of this familiar Canadian creature, the beaver, I feel we all learned something new. I, for one, learned that when beavers change their habitat to suit their own needs, like build a dam, this aids other animals in the area like wood ducks, turtles and mallards, who then also inhabit this beaver-made pond.
The BCES is always looking for volunteers. If you are passionate about your community and enjoy the silent creek that flows through Aldergrove, join the group. Check out the website at www.bertrandcreek.ca or call 604-532-3517 to learn all about the creek and the BCES activities.
By ALYSSA PURSE, Aldergrove Star
-Alyssa Purse is a recent member of the BCES and an advocate for the little creatures we often forget.