Letter: Belleville failed to protect beavers

The Fur-Bearers would have helped, but Belleville didn't ask stakeholders from one year ago for assistance or input.

Photo of a beaver in Belleville by Doug Knutson|Windswept Productions.


July 3, 2020

Dear Mayor Panciuk and Council,

Upon review of the Council Agenda of June 22, 2020 and the report regarding use of animal traps [as recommended by Mayor Panciuk], The Fur-Bearers have further questions.

Background

In 2018, residents near Stanley Park discovered a beaver struggling to stay alive in a pond; the beaver’s foot was caught in a trap that was only metres from a highly used sidewalk, next to a culvert. Following the rescue of the beaver, residents petitioned the City of Belleville to explore non-lethal alternatives.

The Fur-Bearers, a B.C.-based non-profit, was contacted. In 2019, The Fur-Bearers aided in bringing Skip Lisle of Beaver Deceivers in Massachusetts to the location of conflict in Belleville. An educational presentation was held for Belleville City staff, as well as other municipalities, on the severe costs of ongoing trapping to the environment, the success of properly installed flow devices and other mitigation efforts and the scientifically-founded success of such programs. Skip then installed, with the assistance of City of Belleville staff, multiple flow devices at two locations. It is our understanding that these flow devices remain in place and functioning as designed.

The efforts of City Council and staff were lauded by local stakeholders, The Fur-Bearers, the media and animal lovers worldwide.

In late June, 2020, The Fur-Bearers were again contacted by residents to inform us that the city had hired a contractor to trap and kill beavers in response to resident concerns about water levels. An email requesting more information on the steps leading to this, as well as a request to examine lodges in the area and determine if any beaver kits were abandoned to be starved to death due to the trapping. Mayor Panciuk wrote that all the information required would be in a city staff report, accessible on the city’s website.

In April 2019, The Fur-Bearers and Skip Lisle headed to Belleville, Ontario, where multiple flow devices were installed over a three-day period. Numerous staff from the City of Belleville assisted; however, neither Skip nor The Fur-Bearers were contacted for assistance when Belleville faced new damming concerns. See a video, photo gallery and listen to a podcast regarding last year's community-wide efforts by clicking here.

Concerns

The report mentioned fails to explain the original complaints, specifics on “unmanageable” issues, a technical report on the beaver activity and geography of the area (including impacts of development on the ecosystem) the efforts taken to mitigate beaver damming, the costs associated with hiring a water resource engineer as well as the trapper, and what type of traps were used and what type of method was utilized to kill four beavers.

The Fur-Bearers and Skip Lisle/Beaver Deceivers were not contacted for assistance, advice or even to loop in stakeholders during this process, despite prior involvement and indications of community partnership and a cooperative spirit.

Moving Forward

While we understand that beaver activity can be concerning, it is not possible to trap or relocate our way out of wildlife issues. Ideal beaver habitat, vacated violently, will see beavers return, continuing a cycle of violence and unresolved environmental problems.

We are extremely disappointed that the City of Belleville staff and council did not make efforts to involve stakeholders in this process. Despite the deliberate exclusion, we would still like to offer assistance by providing funding ($1,700 CAD value) for a city staff member to receive remote technical and in-field training from an internationally recognized expert.

We look forward to hearing your response to our questions as well as continued offer of support by July 13, 2020.

Sincerely,

Lesley Fox

Executive Director

The Fur-Bearers

CC: Area media


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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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