Chew on This!!
Kilcona Park Dog Club and the City of Winnipeg’s Naturalist are hoping that armoring the trunks of Kilcona’s trees with stucco wire will solve a gnawing problem – protecting the park’s trees from beavers and protecting the park’s beavers from themselves!
Beavers have long made Kilcona Park their home. But in recent years, Kilcona’s resident beavers may have become a little too eager and a little too obvious. The bucktoothed creatures have been gnawing healthy poplars and aspens around the south ponds into pencil-shaped stumps.
During the spring and summer, beavers feed on non-woody plants like cattail shoots that grow along the margins of Kilcona’s waterways. The menu switches to shrubs and trees in the autumn as the animals prepare for winter.
After the ponds freeze, beavers feed on the bark of branches and twigs they’ve cached underwater near their lodges.
Their preferred tree species are alder, aspen, birch, cottonwood, poplar and willow. If the supply of their preferred trees is low, they will harvest oaks and some maples. Conifers such as spruce, pines, and hemlocks are their least favorite food.
Until now, the City’s solution to problem beavers has been to trap or shoot them. But howls of protest from Kilcona animal lovers persuaded KPDC’s board to ask the City to consider other options.
This spring KPDC member Ed Skomro noticed a number of nibbled cottonwood stumps along the ponds and decided to do something about it. He took photos and contacted KPDC’s board.
The City Naturalist responded immediately. Ten of the most vulnerable trees with stucco wire.
In June, Kilcona Park Dog Club directors Donna Henry and Christina Montsion met with Naturalist, Kristin Tuchscherer and Kilcona Park Technician, Jessica Mutimer to explore solutions that would protect the trees without sealing their furry foes’ fate.
The solution – banding more trees with stucco wire. This summer, under a partnership between the City of Winnipeg and the Boys and Girls Club of Winnipeg – Clean Machine, students installed wire cages on over 200 trees around the ponds, burning through sixteen 50-foot rolls of wire.