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Thanks to donors, Shane Hoveland discovers how beavers protect - not wreck - the environment

3 December 2018

Growing up in a place called Beaver County meant Shane Hoveland, '16 BSc, heard a lot about the iconic rodents. Mostly it was farmers talking about how much damage these "pests" did, and the lethal methods needed to control them.

Thanks to the facilities in a new, donor-funded research station, Hoveland has been able to challenge these assumptions, adding to the growing evidence that beavers actually have tremendous benefits to humans and the environment, including the ability to ease droughts.

"It was probably the most valuable learning experience during my time at Augustana. I could apply everything I learned through my four years."
- Shane Hoveland, '16 BSc

While studying environmental science at Augustana Campus, Hoveland took a field course with ecologists Glynnis Hood and Glen Hvenegaard at Miquelon Lake Provincial Park. He spent hours each day in a canoe, scrupulously mapping the contours of a pond and cross-referencing that information with beaver activity. He hoped to determine if the environmental impact of beavers could be predicted based on the size of a body of water.

After just two weeks, he handed in a 14-page report and a detailed contour map of the pond. He walked away with the satisfaction that his work will have real applications, such as helping wildlife managers better predict how relocated beavers will affect their new homes.

"To actually see something I created from the ground up and watch the map as it was created - it's really exciting," Hoveland says.