A total of $3,000 in fines was handed down last month against three men in North Bay for damaging beaver dams with their all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) in recent years. In an article about the convictions and fines, the North Bay Nugget wrote “destroying a beaver dam can cause flooding, property damage, public safety concerns and fish and wildlife habitat damage. The [Ministry of Natural Resources] encourages the public to use public lands respectfully and responsibly so that they are preserved for future generations.”
What makes this statement – and this entire case – so beautifully ridiculous is that the only reason these men faced prosecution is they didn’t ask for permission. Beavers in Ontario are killed by the thousands in cruel traps, and their dams ripped apart by axes, shovels, and even diesel-powered tractors. In fact, when many landowners are concerned about beavers on their properties, the very same Ministry asking the public to “use public lands respectfully” offers a list of trappers as a solution.
The dichotomy of how our government views wildlife – and beavers, in particular – is frightening. On one hand, beavers are valued as a symbol of our nation and history, their images grace our currency, and they stand as the logos for major public and private brands. But on the other, beavers are killed in cruel traps by the thousands, their homes are torn apart, and they’re labelled nuisances that must be eradicated.
We agree with the Ministry that public lands need to be used respectfully and responsibly so they’re preserved for future generations. We just seem to disagree on what, exactly, that means for our wildlife.
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