Hinton's Beaver Boardwalk is a local treasure, an interpretative location where Hintonites and visitors from around the world can walk into the wetlands and discover the full breadth of our natural surroundings, without trekking into deep bush. The star of the location is our beavers, and while the animals are wild, we do work to protect and support them.
Hinton's beavers have been here for multiple generations, shoring up their dam and lodges, and creating memories for visitors and locals alike. Naturally, beavers will inhabit an area until resources are exhausted, and then move on. This has been delayed in the past through the feeding by dedicated volunteers and industry partners.
In the recent years, the Town of Hinton has been evaluating the best way to proceed with the area and animals, working with local and regional experts including biologists to ensure any actions taken are in line with best practices (for both the animals and the surrounding area) as well as for the Beaver Boardwalk Interpretive Area itself. Following expert consultations, the decision was made for the Town to take over the regular feeding of the animals.
Regular feeding only occurs in the fall, ending when Maxwell Lake freezes over. At this time of year, the beavers will actively seek out copious amounts of food to fill their winter food cache (located next to their lodge). They prefer Trembling Aspen which will be brought in by the truckload from West Fraser’s Forest Management Area and delivered to Maxwell Lake. Without doing this, the beavers will seek out and fall trees around the Boardwalk area to fill their cache before the lake freezes. Falling trees around the Boardwalk creates a danger for visitors and property owners. Providing supplementary food in the fall when they are stocking up their cache for the winter will discourage the beavers from falling their own trees and will provide them with ample food for their winter cache. Having access to this food will encourage them to stick around the Boardwalk for yet another year. The remainder of the year, beavers prefer to eat emergent vegetation that grows naturally in the wetland and aspen deliveries are not required.
While this action will enhance the Beaver Boardwalk, it is important to be aware that the Boardwalk remains a non-captive environment, and the animals remain wild. They move of their own volition and should continue to be considered wild animals.