On a weekend better known for bunnies, this beaver tale had a happy ending.
After hearing reports from customers that a beaver was trapped in a nearby Rideau Canal lock early Saturday, Deanna Whaley went to investigate.
To her dismay, Whaley, who runs Gad’s Hill Place Eating House in Merrickville, found the furry creature padding back and forth in shallow water at the bottom of the lock, trying to find a way out.
“I didn’t know what to do,” she said. “This poor animal is languishing. He’s going back and forth but he can’t get out.”
Whaley kept checking on the animal all day. Finally, out of concern for its welfare — “I know he’s just a beaver but I feel sorry for him” — she phoned for help, calling everyone from the Ontario Provincial Police and the Smiths Falls Humane Society to the National Capital Commission, Parks Canada and the Rideau Valley Wildlife Sanctuary.
It’s apparently not that easy to rescue a beaver on the Easter long weekend, and Whaley found herself bouncing around the bureaucracy. On Saturday, she phoned Parks Canada only to be told they couldn’t do anything — until Tuesday.
She tried again on Sunday morning. Wildlife sanctuary staff called the NCC. The NCC called Parks Canada. Parks Canada reportedly said the matter would be “processed” — again, on Tuesday.
By Sunday afternoon, a small crowd had gathered to watch the beaver, and wildlife sanctuary staff were prepared to provide tasty willow and poplar branches.
That’s when Whaley phoned the Citizen, starting another merry-go-round of phone calls.
Finally, “Operator 59,” at the Rideau Canal National Historic Site’s answering service, said she’d do her best to get hold of the responsible authority.
That was about 5 p.m. Half an hour later, Scott Tweedie, the northern sector manager for the agency, called the Citizen and promised action.
“I’ll take care of it and have somebody check it out,” he said, explaining, however, that it’s quite common for beavers to get into a lock chamber through one of the sluice valves or along a basin bypass that connects chambers.
Most times, he said, they find their way out, although they can became disoriented. “One way or another, he’s picked a bad spot to make camp, but we’ll make sure he’s not trapped.”
Tweedie delivered. Four volunteers from the Merrickville Fire Department showed up with cages, climbed down into the lock and, to everyone’s surprise, found three of the creatures. Two were soon caged, though one remained — well, cagey.
At 6:30 Sunday, Whaley called the Citizen: “Mission accomplished,” she said. “Beavers rescued.”
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