The charming illustrations shown here prompted me to ‘splurge’ on Alien Animals in British Columbia which was sitting on the $2 cart outside The Paper Hound Bookshop last week.
This volume is an introduction to the non-native animals (“aliens”) that have been introduced into B.C. by various means. Since this is a post about Vancouver, we will concentrate on a couple of creatures that were introduced into the Vancouver area and report on their current status.
The original range of the Opossum “extends along the eastern and southeastern United States, and in the northern part from the Hudson Valley westward as far as the Great Lakes. It is also found in California, where it was introduced between 1905 and 1910.”¹
Two Opossums were killed in the Greater Vancouver area (at Crescent Beach) in 1949. It is thought that they were introduced to the area ca1925 on Camano Island and at Sedro Wooley, Washington. In 1965, it had increased in numbers and range. It could be found south and east of the Fraser river as far as Spuzzum and north of the Fraser at Point Grey. Today, the range of opossums in B.C. is limited to the Fraser Valley as far as Hope.²
The Crested Mynah is commonly called the Japanese Starling. It is native to Asia and is thought to have been introduced into the Greater Vancouver area either by immigrants from Asia or to have arrived accidentally aboard ships.
Two pairs of Crested Mynahs were first reported in Vancouver in 1904. Between then and 1920, the population grew and the birds were commonly spotted during the 1930s. As of ca1972 (when the book was revised), there were fewer sightings in the City of Vancouver and it was only occasionally spotted in rural areas around the metropolitan area. The last two Crested Mynahs in B.C. are believed to have died in 2003 in Vancouver.³
The illustrator credited on the title page of this small volume was Frank L. Beebe (Francis Lyman Beebe). He was the senior illustrator attached to the Royal B. C. Museum at the time Alien Animals was published. A profile of his life and career may be found in Wild Lands Advocate, the Alberta Wilderness Association Journal, December 2002 (Volume 10, No.6) on p. 19.
¹Alien Animals, p. 11