There is no excuse for killing beavers
The fuss over a local trapper trying to extract a $225 payment from Public Works for trapping beavers at the Connaught rifle range should be a wake-up call for governments. It’s time to move beyond 19th-century management practices in dealing with wildlife conflicts.
Another division of Public Works has done so. Instead of killing beavers at the Carling Campus, Public Works managers at that site fenced the vulnerable trees they wished protected. They left less valuable trees and shrubs, poplar and willow, which traditionally serve as beaver food because they regenerate quickly and help to stabilize the banks of waterways.
Cities across North America are developing progressive Living with Wildlife programs based on coexistence. Beavers are recognized as a keystone species, crucial to maintaining healthy wetlands. Not only for the myriad of other species that depend on these habitats but for our benefit as well.
Beaver dams improve the flow and quality of water, holding back flood waters and preventing erosion, reducing sediments and toxins while storing water for times of drought.
Not only is there growing recognition by scientists that beavers make critical ecosystem contributions but the public is becoming aware of beavers’ importance through documentaries like those shown recently on CBC Nature of Things and PBS Nature.
With the ability of modern flow devices to protect against flooding and tree wrapping, there is no excuse for killing beavers. Governments seeking safe, cost-effective, environmentally beneficial, and humane outcomes that will be widely supported by the public need to adopt progressive solutions that are based on education and conflict prevention.
Donna DuBreuil, Ottawa-Carleton Wildlife Centre