BC Hydro to kill beavers for Site C dam

Beaver in the Canadian wild. Photo by Jillian Cooper / Getty Images

The Fur-Bearers is appalled at the news that BC Hydro will be killing beavers in a wetland for the Site C dam. The Alaska Highway News reported that the Crown corporation will soon begin logging in the Watson Slough, where the corporation will be breaching beaver dams and killing beavers in the area prior to logging.

BC Hydro had initially planned to log the wetland in 2017 but after pressure from the regional district and local groups, the corporation agreed to preserve it for as long as possible. Despite five years of knowing they would clear this area, at the 11th hour, BC Hydro has resorted to lethal options to remove beavers living there. BC Hydro provided no indication that during these five years, they had explored humane, non-lethal options to remove or divert beavers from this area in an effort to avoid killing them. The corporation has not provided an estimate of the number of beavers that will be killed.

The Fur-Bearers is challenging BC Hydro’s claim in the media that trapping beavers is humane. Beavers are commonly trapped using conibears, leg-hold traps set underwater, or snare traps. In cases where leg-hold traps are used underwater, these traps are set with the intent to drown the animals, where they will struggle in the trap underwater for 10-15 minutes before drowning to death. For both conibears and snares, the intent is an instantaneous death, but research has consistently shown that these traps do not always guarantee a quick death, where animals often suffer in excruciating pain if the trap fails to kill them.

We also take issue with BC Hydro’s description of beavers as “aggressive”. These animals are not known to be aggressive. The mischaracterization of animals as aggressive or dangerous is a common rhetorical tool used by governments in order to justify kills in the face of public criticism.

The Fur-Bearers has reached out to BC Hydro for more information and will provide updates as we receive them.

BC Hydro has created a webpage for their work planned in this area: Watson Slough: We’re listening. If members of the public want to share their concerns over BC Hydro’s plan to kill beavers in the Watson Slough, use their form on the contact page: sitecproject.com/contact-us

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