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Beaver back in the wild after recovering from gunshot wounds

A beaver found with three gunshot wounds in the West Shore has been rehabilitated and is back in the wild, minus an eye. The female adult was found about a month and a half ago by someone who alerted Dr. Petra Warnock of Elk Lake Veterinary Hospital.
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A beaver found in the West Shore with gunshot wounds is cared for by Dr. Petra Warnock of Elk Lake ­Veterinary Hospital. WildARC

A beaver found with three gunshot wounds in the West Shore has been rehabilitated and is back in the wild, minus an eye.

The female adult was found about a month and a half ago by someone who alerted Dr. Petra Warnock of Elk Lake Veterinary Hospital.

Warnock, in turn, contacted the B.C. SPCA Wild Animal Rehabilitation Centre (Wild ARC), and the beaver was brought to the Metchosin facility.

It was originally thought to have been struck by a vehicle, but X-rays and other tests showed the gunshot wounds, said Wild ARC assistant manager Tara Thom.

Warnock performed surgery on the beaver at the veterinary hospital and ended up having to remove one of the animal’s eyes.

“The damage caused by one of the bullets didn’t make it possible for the eye to remain,” Thom said.

The animal recovered at Wild ARC, where she was initially under “heavy-duty sedation,” Thom said. After being fed via syringe, the beaver gradually got better, she said, and was put on a regular diet, which for beavers includes the inner bark of trees and various types of vegetation.

Once the animal’s condition improved and she gained weight, she was moved into an enclosure where she was provided with a pool, logs and twigs to prepare her for release, Thom said.

The injured beaver was released a few weeks ago, she said, adding: “As far as we know things seem to be going very well.”

Thom said Wild ARC doesn’t often see beavers, although about three years ago, three young beavers were brought in after being displaced from their mother when their dam was destroyed. The animals ended up staying at Wild ARC for two years, she said, providing a good learning experience for staff.

The animals need to grow up in groups, she said: “That’s the best way for them to survive.”

B.C. conservation officer Scott Norris said the beaver population on the Island is “quite healthy.”

He said the animals can be trapped, but can’t be hunted.

jbell@timescolonist.com