Compassion is everywhere: even Northern Ontario

beaver winter compassionTrappers would have you believe that everyone in Northern Ontario likes to trap and hunt wildlife. They say that if you don’t live in these rural areas, you simply couldn’t understand. But one compassionate couple is proving them wrong.

CTV News reported the story of Bill and Lorraine Van Duinkerken, who live in Markstay, a small community roughly half-way between Sudbury and West Nipissing.

A contractor allegedly trespassed onto the Van Duinkerken property and destroyed a large beaver dam. Bill noted that this dam had been in place for at least 50 years and was home to several beavers.

While a broken dam may not be a crisis in the spring or summer, it is right now. Ontario has been hit by a cold, long winter and the food caches set aside by the beavers were crushed by the contractor’s machinery. The beavers themselves have limited mobility as the creek is mostly frozen and they have little room to swim.

The couple are chopping down fresh poplar (a preferred beaver snack) from around their property and providing it to the semi-aquatic family to try and prevent them from starving until spring arrives.

Assisting them is Howard Smith, a biologist with Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary, who helped install a trail cam so they could monitor the activity of the beavers and ensure they’re getting enough to eat.

The contractor was fined $240 for demolishing the dam, but the Van Duinkerken think his actions are more akin to animal cruelty, as the beavers were left to starve to death.

CTV News noted that other beavers in the area may be facing similar fates.

We’d like to extend our warmest thanks to Van Duinkerken for what they’re doing not only for the beaver family who share their land, but for all the fur-bearers who are being seen as sentient, caring beings that deserve respect, as a result of telling their story.

The Van Duinkerkens also prove definitively that no matter where you live or where you’re from, compassion is a choice we can all make.


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Established in 1953, The Fur-Bearers is a charitable, non-partisan organization whose goals are to end the commercial fur trade and promote solutions for wildlife coexistence in communities. Your donation is tax-deductible. Charitable registration number: 130006125RR0002

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