Beavers killed in Ontario Nature Sanctuary

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Guest blog by Heidi Perryman Ph.D, Martinez Beavers

GRAFTON – Despite efforts to save a family of beavers at a local wildlife sanctuary, the last of the four beavers was found dead on Thursday evening.

The name Sanctuary denotes an area of rural peace and tranquility, ideal for passive, year-round recreation. The area features over 30 species of birds and a variety of native flora and fauna.

David Bryson, a member of the Nawautin Sanctuary Association (NSA), and Debbie Kilmer wrote a letter to the group’s executive on May 20 pleading with them to look for other alternatives to removing four beavers from the Nawautin Wildlife Sanctuary south of Grafton along Lake Ontario.

The fear was the beavers would be killed. “Is this not a nature sanctuary in which the beaver, as an indigenous species deserve the right to co-exist?,” stated the e-mail.

Just to be clear, the Nawautin Wildlife Sanctuary is a lovely jewel of a place in rolling Northumberland between mutiple wetlands and on the shores of Lake Ontario. Its 13 acres sit just across the pond from New York State. Residents serve on an advisory board to protect and promote the preserve, where motor vehicles are not allowed and folks are just encouraged to observe nature. Bird watchers, dog walkers and photographers enjoy walking its trails every day.

Because there was water, willow, gravity and oxygen, the area attracted beavers. (Funny how that works and will continue to work.) And folks enjoyed watching the many birds who came to their ponds, and the turtles on the banks. On the other side of the pond a property owner got anxious that the water level had risen and picked up the phone to call the city administrator, Terry Korotki, to complain. He did this in much the same way as you might tell your wife to get the fly swatter, and with sadly similar results.


Mr. Korotki ran it by the mayor who told him to call the trapper they always used in these situations. Meanwhile two advisory members wrote letters and begged the city not to trap. They contacted Fur-bearer Defenders who told them about solutions and they were actually hoping someone might listen because they were, after all, on the board. Lesley Fox of FBD wrote a letter to the mayor explaining about better solutions. No matter. By Thursday night four beavers were dead from a leghold trap.

In an emergency meeting at the Grafton Library on Friday night, frustrations boiled over as a number of people were upset by the NSA executive’s decision to kill the beavers. “There is nothing that says that we need to hold a meeting first,” executive chair Ray Bowart said during the meeting. The executive said its reasons for trapping and killing the beavers included the strong possibility of flooding on private property.

At one point during the meeting Bowart made the comment, “the reaction to this (e-mail Bryson and Kilmer sent) caused the beavers to be taken out.” Shortly after tempers flared, which resulted in Bowart resigning from the Executive and leaving the meeting.

Did you catch that? When Bowart was challenged about his decision to kill the beavers he blamed those who objected saying “The fact that you made a fuss about these animals was the reason they had to be killed”. Really? So I guess Grafton better be careful about protecting senior centers or day cares from now on. Consider yourself warned.

This was particularly rich.

Secretary / treasurer Meredith Coristine said he regretted the comment was made about the reason the beavers were killed. “If we made an error, we apologize.”

Well, okay then.

Why on earth do people think that’s an apology? And why didn’t I think of it when I was five?
“If I broke that lamp when I was swinging my baton, I apologize.”
” If some of those cookies were eaten by me, I am sorry”
“If Timmy was accidentally scratched while I hugged him, I regret it”.

No wonder administrator’s are so fond of the passive tense.

Thank god for this:

Bryson put forth a motion that was accepted unanimously that any matter regarding wildlife existence in the sanctuary will require a meeting by the membership to discuss options.

I must be tired today because I find this article deeply upsetting. Of course cities kill beavers all the time and people are often upset by it, so that’s not really new. It’s that they were so close to winning on this. Two very strongly placed and vocal advocates on the front lines and an agency at the ready to help. And we still get four dead beavers and god knows how many orphaned kits. I think its the nature (pun intended) of this particular setting and its designation as a SANCTUARY that really upsets me. I know that if I lived there this might be the new sign.


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