Rabbit Advocacy Animal Matters

 

Comment: Beaver/human conflicts have been on the increase in recent years due to human encroachment on wildlife habitat. Urban sprawl has displaced many species, forcing them to find ever-decreasing areas in which to live.  Rather than taking this fact into consideration, humans feel entitled to exterminate whatever gets in their way.  We are the primary predators of beavers, and in Surrey, the latest death has sparked public outrage.  

Animal activists outraged over beaver killing in Surrey, B.C.

Friday, June 6, 2008 CBC News

Animal rights activists are angry that officials in Surrey, B.C., approved killing a beaver in order to alleviate the threat of flooding to residents near a pond in Cougar Creek Park.

The city obtained a special permit from the provincial government to kill the animal, Carrie Baron, a drainage manager with the city's engineering department, said on Thursday. City crews demolished beaver dams in Cougar Creek and caught a beaver in a trap set out Wednesday morning, Baron said. The male beaver died in the trap after its skull was crushed.

The move drew criticism from animal rights supporters including Roslyn Cassels, a former Vancouver Park Board commissioner, who said the city's actions were inhumane and unsustainable. Cassels said the human encroachment on wildlife habitat in Surrey is out of control. "We have no right to take away what little habitat they have left. This is our national animal. It's an absolute disgrace to see any animal treated this way," she said Thursday.

Alan Starkey, a trapping instructor with the B.C. Trappers Association, said it's hard to believe city crews could have trapped the animal in an ethical way. "Nobody traps this time of the year … you're going to catch the two parents and the other poor little ones are just going to end up dying," Starkey said on Thursday.

Cassels said city workers told her that the male beaver's mate and kits were not harmed during the process.

Surrey mayor sticks up for beavers

Saturday, June 07, 2008 Ethan Baron, The Province

SURREY -- The mayor has come out swinging in defence of the beaver, after City of Surrey staff had one killed in a municipal park. A male beaver was trapped and killed last week, to address safety and flooding risks. "I do not support the killing of wildlife," Mayor Dianne Watts said, contacted in China. "We need to find alternatives so that we can relocate these beavers to a more suitable location."

Watts pledged to take up the matter with the B.C. Environment Ministry, "so that we can find alternatives that will allow us to address this issue in a more sustainable manner."

Surrey hires a trapping company that catches and kills an average of 14 beavers per year in the city, said Vincent Lalonde, an engineering department manager. "We've seen an increase in beaver activity, certainly, over the last couple of years," he said.

The slain beaver's activities created a safety hazard by causing flooding that approached a path used by children walking to school, Lalonde said. The water also threatened to flood nearby residences, he said.

City workers had been dismantling the animal's dams for two years, and the trapping was a "last resort," as the animal had become so busy dams had to be destroyed daily, Lalonde said.

A radio station reported the beaver had its head crushed in a killing trap, but Lalonde said the trapping company the city uses has permits for live trapping, after which the beavers are euthanized. "The trappers do it according to their permit," Lalonde said. Wildlife regulations prohibit relocation of problem beavers, he said.

The killing hasn't solved the flood-risk problem, a wildlife advocacy group said. "If one beaver is killed and removed, another beaver will actually move in," said Fannya Eden, a project co-ordinator for the Fur-Bearer Defenders office in Vancouver. "That will just start the cycle of killing and cruelty."When they have family, what do you do? Trap the whole family? Do you take the parents and let the babies die?"

Eden said there are various structures made of fencing, posts and tubes that can eliminate flood risk while allowing beavers to remain in their habitat. "It takes a bit of tweaking and care and maintenance to have the structures work," Eden said. "There are ways we can coexist with beavers. It's nice to have wildlife in our area and be able to observe them and take joy in watching them." And beavers, she said, produce ecological benefits.  "Beavers are very important natural engineers," she said. "They preserve the wetlands."

Killing of persistent beaver provokes outcry

Surrey homeowners who feared flooding due to beaver dam now wonder if there was a more humane way to handle the problem
June 7, 2008 Wendy Stueck for the Globe and Mail

VANCOUVER -- Damned if they do, dammed if they don't. Such is the fate of city managers who deal with the pesky beaver, the plus-sized rodent whose image adorns the Canadian nickel and whose buck-toothed business can result in damage that is considerably more expensive.

In Surrey this week, a male beaver was trapped and killed following months of unsuccessful attempts to persuade the persistent animal to move to another area and stop building - and rebuilding - a dam that resulted in a sizable pond edging up to within 10 or 20 metres of nearby homes.

That may come as a relief to homeowners who were worried about potential flooding of their basements or backyards, but residents want to know whether it was really necessary to kill the beast.

People are also upset that a female beaver and its kits were left behind as a result of the city's decision to eliminate the troublesome beaver. "A lot of people get mad at us. They either get mad at us because we are doing it [beaver control], or they get mad at us because we're not doing it," said Carrie Baron, drainage and environment manager for the City of Surrey. "Our staff is making a judgment call. Nobody likes to do this."

Beavers, trapped for their pelts a century ago when beaver hats were the height of European fashion, are plentiful in Surrey and other municipalities in Metro Vancouver.

In Surrey, they gravitate to streams, creeks and ditches where they are usually left undisturbed unless their den- and dam-building results in the possibility of floods or other damage, Ms. Barron said. Bringing in trappers - who must be licensed by the province - is a last resort.

Over the past six months or so, staff tried to persuade a beaver that had picked a dam site on Surrey's Cougar Creek to move by making noise around the site, repeatedly dismantling its dam and clearing brush and debris. Those efforts failed, so the city hired a trapper. "We tried every method we could and we tried it for quite a while," Ms. Baron said, adding that the area being flooded is one the city relies on to sop up extra water in the event of heavy rains.

Under B.C.'s Wildlife Act, regional managers can issue permits that allow beavers to be trapped and killed. Unauthorized damage to beaver dams or dens is an offence under the act.

There are more humane ways to handle problem beavers, including relocation and water management said a spokeswoman for Vancouver-based Fur Bearer Defenders. Beaver specialists use various systems, including pond levellers that create leaks in dams that beavers can't fix, to prevent or minimize damage from dams or dens.

It's not feasible to relocate trapped animals because most suitable beaver habitat is already occupied and the animals tend to be territorial, said John VanHove, fish and wildlife section head for the Lower Mainland region of the Ministry of the Environment.

Surrey kills a small number of beavers each year, Ms. Baron said. Other municipalities also occasionally kill the animals, which are plentiful in B.C.

One of many e-mails to Surrey Council and the media strongly opposing the killings. 

June 8, 2008 Re: Cruel Beaver Killing 

Dear Mayor Watts and Council: 

I am totally sickened by the killing of this male beaver.  He's doing what beavers do, and that is to make a home in ever-decreasing habit because of human encroachment.  We all know there are alternate and humane ways to deal with this situation, provided there was a need to do something to begin with.  Being caught in a trap, having your skull crushed, and then euthanized is nothing short of cruelty.    

Engineering department manager, Vincent Lalonde, said there was a safety component because of flooding of a path used by school children.  I've got an idea. Don't use the path.  And then there's Carrie Baron, drainage and environment manager for the City of Surrey, who appears to think that because beavers are plentiful it provides some sort of rationale for murder. 

Stop decimating our wildlife. We are the most destructive beings on earth so call in some experts to begin a human population reduction program. 

Carmina Gooch
North Vancouver

Comment: Ted Turner, among others, has been saying for years that we need to reduce the world's population.  Predictably, most people can't begin to look at this issue rationally.

Beavers are under siege in Surrey

40 of Canada's national animal killed since October
Sunday, June 15, 2008 Ethan Baron, The Province

Surrey has killed 40 beavers since mid-October in an unprecedented slaughter. "It's inhumane, it's cruel, and it's unethical," said former Vancouver parks commissioner and animal advocate Roslyn Cassells. "The city has failed in their wildlife management and their environmental management."

Surrey officials are taking the easy way out, when effective methods exist to mitigate beaver-related flooding, Cassells charged. "Beavers are engineers, surely the human engineers with their larger brains are able to outsmart the determined little rodents," she said.

Twenty-four beavers were killed in the lowlands near the south end of the Pattullo Bridge, said city drainage and environment manager Carrie Baron. "They come in off the Fraser every year," Baron said. Another 14 beavers were put to death in agricultural lands, she said, adding that the city doesn't track the number of beavers farmers themselves kill.

Two other beavers were terminated in Cougar Creek Park, where flooding was putting homes at risk, she said. This season's 40 beaver kills is "the highest we've ever done," Baron said. "It's a high number but there's so many [beavers] throughout Surrey right now, because we haven't been doing anything, we have been leaving them."

In the season ending in spring 2007, the city, which hires a trapping company to kill the animals, eliminated six beavers. In 2006, 15 were killed, and 26 were executed in 2005. From 2002 to 2004, Surrey killed an average of 15 beavers a year.

Destroying beaver dams to prevent flooding can be costly, and large-scale removals require permission from the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Baron said. "Trapping is very cheap, actually, but that's not why you do it," she said. "It's a last resort."

Beavers are eliminated from farmland, home areas and the commercial, industrial and residential zone around the Pattullo when their activities threaten to flood homes and buildings, Baron said.

"We're trying to live with nature as best we can," she said. "People don't want their houses flooded, either. "We have lots of good habitat for beavers in Surrey. In most places we don't even touch them." City staff have not had much success with alternative control methods such as putting pipes through dams, she said. "They jam those up real quick," Baron said. "It's part of what they do."

Cassells said such drainage methods can work, but require city officials to approve the necessary staffing for regular maintenance of the flood-control devices. Members of the public have sent information on other techniques, which Baron said she plans to try out this summer.

Some residents have offered to take trapped beavers in ponds on their property, and Surrey officials plan to ask the B.C. Environment Ministry for permission to do relocations, she said. Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts has declared her opposition to killing beavers.

Comment: People are fed up with our wildlife being slaughtered and are demanding that it stop.  With so many options available there's no excuse for Surrey or any other municipality to claim they were left with no other choice.  BC's Ministry of Environment reported 3,878 beavers were killed province-wide in 2005, the most recent year they were tracked.  Outrageous! 

June 29, 2008 The City of Surrey has advised the media that they are halting the trapping and killing of beavers by the municipality's Engineering Department for now. West Vancouver has adopted a non-trapping approach when it comes to flooding risks caused by beavers. However, this does not affect the use of Conibear traps by licensed fur trappers or private land owners, as trapping regulations are under provincial jurisdiction, not municipal. The use of Conibear trap is still common and legal across Canada.

February 18, 2011 Comment:  Beaver trapping recommended 

Iconic animals’ activity puts human health, safety at risk, consultant says
January 14, 2011 The Squamish Chief   

One of Canada’s symbolic animals is likely again to be the target of trapping in Squamish in 2011. On the brink of extinction in the early 1990s, the beaver population has increased dramatically in Squamish in recent years, leading to conflicts with humans and their infrastructure. More…

After hearing that beavers are once again under siege, this time in Squamish, Carmina Gooch of BC’s Rabbit Advocacy Group had to write. Unbelievably, officials hired EBB Environmental Consulting to report on how to best mitigate beaver issues. This is the same company that the City of Kelowna hired in 2008 to exterminate its abandoned rabbit population. Many met with a most inhumane end, including one poor rabbit who was shot, and then repeatedly stomped on before the hired gun broke the rabbit’s neck. More...

EBB, like others in the industry, blame every other critter other than the human variety for environmental damage, whereas our activities are by far the biggest problem. In previous reports, “culling” (read kill, eliminate, murder) appears to be the recommended choice of action to rid communities of alleged ‘pests’ or ‘nuisances.’  In fact, this firm and Kevin Ramsay, CAO of Squamish, perceive beavers as risks to public safety and health, among other such  nonsense.  All this while trying to give the appearance of thoughtfulness to humane alternatives.    

The ever-expanding human population is totally at fault for the destruction of our ecosystems and the homes of numerous creatures. While we make the claim of a reasoning and compassionate animal, the evidence proves otherwise.

Briefs from the Feb. 15 District of Squamish council meeting

February 18, 2011 The Squamish Chief
District’s beaver consultant choice criticized

Local environmentalist John Buchanan came to the podium to emphasize concerns addressed in a letter to council and criticize their response.

During Tuesday (Feb. 14)’s council meeting, council received a letter from Carmina Gooch of the Rabbit Advocacy Group of B.C., criticizing the district’s “inhumane” plans to cull the Squamish beaver population using Conibear traps.

“In one study, which evaluated Conibear efficiency, only 15 per cent of the strikes might have been instant kills. Forty per cent of the animals were held in positions that probably caused extreme pain,” she wrote in her letter. “The study concluded that unless the animal is small or is struck on the skull or neck, this trap does not kill instantly. In fact, it can take up to 15 minutes for an animal to run out of oxygen and drown…”

She said there were several more humane ways to deal with the beaver population and criticized the District of Squamish for not  installing “Beaver Stops” (wire fit over culverts to keep beavers out) in 1989.

However, Gooch’s main concern was the district’s decision to hire EBB Environmental Consulting, whose culling methods came under fire when the firm was hired to cull about 2,000 rabbits in Kelowna in May 2008. At the time, CBC News reported that police were investigating allegations against EBB for allegedly stomping a rabbit to death after shooting it.

Council’s response was to send Gooch the report presented by EBB biologist Oliver Busby.

At the podium, Buchanan said sending the report was insufficient and he shared the same concern as Gooch. “I’m curious why you hired this particular company, who has such a negative history,” he said. “You should explain that to me and provide the response to Mrs. Gooch.”

Gardner asked chief administrative officer Kevin Ramsay to respond. “He is a registered professional biologist with good credentials,” Ramsay said. “He is considered the best in the province for beaver culling and was recommended to us by DFP [Department of Fisheries and Oceans].”

Related: Widespread anger after Kelowna contractor stomps bunny to death; no charges
The Killing Streets of Kelowna; EBB Consulting, TRACS