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The Uninformed Conflict Between Beaver & Salmon Conservation

Beaver vs salmon? The two species aren't actually fighting, conservation groups behind each species are in conflict. ...


Beaver vs salmon?

The two species aren't actually fighting, conservation groups behind each species are in conflict. Basically, fish populations are regarded as more import­ant than beaver habitats. When a beaver habitat is seen to be a potential impediment to fish passage, the beavers are typically lethally removed and the dam is then pulled.

A spawning salmon above a beaver dam

A beaver eating on a rock

The negative relationship between beaver habitats and migrating fish has been a major driver behind the lack of en­thusiasm for developing beaver co-existence strategies. We decided to take a crack at it.

Who are Humane Solutions?

Humane Solutions is a socially motivated wildlife management company based out of the Pacific Northwest, Canada. Constantly innovating new methodology and pushing the boundaries of their industry, they have grown significantly over the last few years to become not only a leader in their market but a thought-leader in conservation.

Humane Solutions team at the shop

The team is continuously coming up with successful solutions that solve significant problems in the pest and wildlife control field. One of their incredible inventions that solves a serious ecological issue is the Fish Lyft. It is a unique and original answer to the clash between organizations over salmon migration and beaver habitats in cold-water streams. Humane Solutions are the forward-thinking thought leaders that have contributed towards the peaceful coexistence of salmon and beavers. How has the Fish Lyft achieved this? Discover more about it in this post.

What is the Fish Lyft and what are its benefits?

A fish lyft installed in port moody, BC

The Fish Lyft is a fish ladder system. It can be incorporated into Humane Solutions’ remarkable, industry-leading beaver pond leveler – another shrewd, humane, and efficient solution to the potential problems caused by beaver dams. The main advantage of the Fish Lyft is that regardless of the size of the dam, whether it is 1’ or 20’, it is highly efficient and can easily be scaled up or down. The Fish Lyft was specifically designed to solve the ecological discord between beneficial beaver habitats and the salmon that encounter the dams when migrating to spawn.

Fish-Lyft-MP4-Final

 

How was Humane Solutions’ Fish Lyft developed and what is it made of?

The system has been expertly developed by the professional Humane Solutions team, who partnered with the City of Port Moody and gained the advice of the DFO to create it. The Fish Lyft is made up of a series of boxes, through which an outflow passes, and a large pipe that connects the system to the pool of water. As the system’s boxes are filled with the leveler’s outflow, the fish move through it into the outflow pipe and then pass into pools by way of the outflowing water.

To scale up or down, depending on the size of the dam, all that’s required is to add more boxes to the Fish Lyft or subtract them. This makes the Fish Lyft ideal for a range of cold-water habitats and dam sizes and helps salmon overcome the beavers’ barriers.

What are the environmental implications of Humane Solutions’ Fish Lyft?

Humane Solutions’ Fish Lyft has substantial environmental implications. It is a crucial solution that enables the coexistence of salmon and beavers and helps with wildlife control. Not only does it conserve the significant ecological advantages of beaver habitats, but it also allows the safe passage of migrating salmon at the same time, while protecting their population so they can spawn.

Downstream view of a pond leveler before a fish lyft is installed

Why is the conflict between salmon migration and beaver habitats a problem?

The conflict between salmon migration and beaver habitats raises an ecological quandary. On the one hand, protecting natural processes that take place within a cold-water ecosystem is important. But resource managers also feel compelled to implement wildlife control strategies to handle beaver habitats and boost the survival of migrating salmon. Without these strategies, the salmon suffer greatly.

As ecosystems heavily depend on salmon populations, which are being impacted by beaver dams, their decline has contributed towards the decline of other species as well. Grizzly bears in search of food in Canada, for instance, were only able to survive due to the 500 salmon that were offered to them by the environmental stewards of Vancouver Island.

photo of a whale tale

Killer whales, too, that hunt for Chinook in the sea surrounding British Columbia are also facing a sharp decline. Heavily relying on this type of salmon, and consuming approximately 500,000 Chinook each year, the decline of these killer whales directly correlates with the severe lack of salmon in the environment.

Humane Solutions team assessing a beaver habitat

Salmon survival rates in British Columbia: downstream vs. upstream dam passage

In British Columbia, Canada, a study of adult sockeye salmon found that spawning in beaver habitats directly impacts their survival rate, critically impacting their chances of successful migration and spawning.

This was reflected in the difference between the 49 percent of salmon that survived after being released downstream of a beaver dam compared with the 93 percent that survived, which were released upstream of the dam. The survival rate for female salmon that were released downstream of the beaver dam was a mere 39 percent, whereas for males it was 71 percent.

These findings have serious repercussions for the population of sockeye salmon and have critical implications in terms of conservation as their population is governed by the female gender.

With beaver habitats affecting the survival rate of salmon so significantly, and a range of animals relying on a high salmon population for their survival, it is easy to see how the balance of our aquatic ecosystems can rapidly collapse.

Summed, up: salmon need beaver habitats.

How rescuers used fish ladders to save wild Pacific salmon facing extinction

In the Fraser River of British Columbia, wild Pacific salmon also face other forces of nature that directly threaten their population. The natural landslide of 2018, for example, saw substantial masses of rock tumble from the canyon’s surfaces and walls down into the river below. This had severe consequences for the salmon that were attempting to migrate.

Workers helping salmon ascend a barrier in the Fraser River

The rocks that had fallen formed a formidable barrier that stood in the way of the salmon looking to spawn. It came after a time where the populations of wild Pacific salmon had undergone a significant decline. Some scientists have estimated that in approximately 100 years a devastating 75 percent of the sockeye population has been destroyed.

By installing a fish ladder and salmon cannon, or “Whooshh Passage Portal”, rescuers were able to help the Pacific salmon to skirt around barriers that prevented them from reaching their destinations. Passing through the fish ladder, the Pacific salmon not only survived but were also able to spawn and reproduce.

Overcoming the threats to the salmon population

In creating the Fish Lift, Humane Solutions’ goal was to overcome each of these threats that directly affect the migrating salmon population and their ability to spawn. The team sought to enable the coexistence of migrating salmon and the beaver habitats that are an integral part of the natural ecosystem.

It was with years of study and hard work that the Humane Solutions team was able to achieve just that. Its trial was a resounding success and all of the salmon made the passage through the Fish Lyft successfully.

The Fish Lyft: a perceptive invention that solves critical ecological problems

The Fish Lyft innovation is not only an astute solution that resolves a serious problem, it is just the beginning of Humane Solutions’ wildlife control and environmental solutions. Based on its successful results, the Fish Lyft has the potential to be scaled and used worldwide, save ecosystems, and prevent the depopulation of wild salmon all around the globe. If you want to find out more about the Fish Lyft and support its development, connect with the Humane Solutions team today.

See more on Humane Solutions' beaver management web page.

 


 

 

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