City of Ottawa charged with “enduring hatred” of beavers

Wildlife advocates want the City of Ottawa to stop killing so many beavers when it tries to deal with complaints or disputes between rodent dam builders and landowners.

The Ottawa-Carleton Wildlife Center says the city’s beaver management strategy could use other more cost-effective measures such as flow devices and “beaver choppers.”

Wildlife centre’s president Donna DuBreuil said the organization had lost patience with the city after years of advocacy and found little openness to new ideas.

“Basically the town seems addicted to killing beavers,” she said.

Town seems addicted to killing beavers– Donna Dubreuil, Ottawa-Carleton Wildlife Center

The city spent $ 128,075 in 2020 and $ 89,288 in 2019 to hire licensed trappers, but Dubreuil argues that a flow device would be less expensive, costing $ 2,000 to reduce flooding in the area around a dam of beavers. This strategy could also reduce other long-term monitoring and maintenance costs, she added.

Residents near the Goulbourn Wetland complex in the western suburb of Stittsville, where the Trans-Canada Trail runs west of West Ridge Drive, say trappers have targeted beavers in their area.

Ann Swanwick said the beavers did not cause flooding on the trail and that the area “would be the perfect place for a beaver population.”

“The town just has this continued hatred of beavers… they’re here and then they’re gone,” Swanwick said.

“We want the trapping and killing to stop. We want them to consult with the experts on alternative ways to deal with the beaver.”

WATCH | Resident Ann Swanwick wants changes in the management of the beaver population:

“They don’t need to trap and kill”

Stittsville resident Ann Swanwick says she would like the town to find more humane ways to manage the beaver population, rather than using deadly traps, at the Goulbourn Wetland complex. 0:42

London, Ont., Cited as model

Swanwick said other cities like London, Ont., Have paved the way for more humane ways to allow beavers and humans to coexist and share their wetland habitat.

DuBreuil said residents’ concerns show the city has prioritized complaints from nearby landowners rather than valuing and preserving a wetland.

“There is no other species that is more important to maintaining wetlands and keeping our watershed healthy than beavers,” she said.

Stittsville County. Glen Gower said the Goulbourn Conservation Complex is a provincially significant wetland and enjoys the highest form of legal protection against development. But he admitted that improvements can be made.

“I think the city is lagging behind other cities in Ontario that have more progressive ways of managing the beaver population,” Gower said.

The councilor says he’s happy the city has established two pilot projects in Kanata and the east to explore alternative strategies, while encouraging the wildlife center to reach out.

DuBreuil said the city’s previous pilot projects were “designed to fail” and were not implemented in areas where the city receives the most complaints.

The City of London uses drainage devices known as “beaver decoys” to prevent flooding of storm ponds and to protect local neighborhoods from flooding. (City of London)

Beaver relocation not allowed in Ontario, city says

The 2013 City of Ottawa Wildlife Strategy recognizes that beaver recovery in the region has significant environmental benefits, but it also recognizes that it can threaten personal property, municipal infrastructure and economically productive lands.

In a statement, Ottawa town planner Nick Stowe said provincial regulations “effectively prevent live trapping and movement of beavers.” The Ontario Ministry of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry recommends hiring licensed trappers when avoidance and mitigation efforts, such as flow devices, are not can be used.

Stowe said staff are continuing to explore the use of debit devices where appropriate and have consulted with the City of London, which the city says has installed 10 of these devices.

He said beaver management at the Goulbourn Wetland Complex is tied to the Hazeldean Municipal Drain and is managed and monitored under an approved engineering report to protect the long-term health of the ecosystem.

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