Wildlife Ontario
NEWS - from external sources

Story (The Ottawa Citizen)

University under fire for killing beavers

Rodents felled trees at Waterloo school; flooding feared next Mirella Christou

The Ottawa Citizen Page A3
Saturday, November 18, 2006

University of Waterloo under fire for killing beavers
A University of Waterloo official says relocating the pesky beavers wasn't a viable option.

The University of Waterloo stirred up a controversy this week after it trapped and killed four busy beavers after trees began to fall on campus grounds.

The beavers were drowned in underwater traps set up in Laurel Creek, which runs through the university's campus. The traps were removed yesterday because "all the beavers have been caught," according to Martin Van Nierop, a spokesman for the university.

He cited the falling trees and the potential for creek waters to rise as the reason to rid the grounds of the buck-tooth animals.

"We saw there was a severe problem, with a safety issue attached," said Mr. Van Nierop. "The issue was of flooding the area. (The creek) is right beside the student villages. Flooding could have occurred through the whole complex."

Beavers on campus became a problem two months ago when they began gnawing down large aspen trees and a very big heritage apple tree near student walkways.

The university recently hired an experienced trapper who is licensed by the Ministry of Natural Resources to put out traps that Mr. Van Nierop described as "humane," and which result in "an almost instantaneous death."

Carole Damms, a wildlife rehabilitator licensed by the Ministry of Natural Resources, has been watching the situation closely and disapproved of the traps.

"It's both a symbolic and animal rights issue," she said. "The traps were not humane because it takes nearly 15 minutes for the beaver to drown."

The original plan that the university devised was to trap the animals alive and relocate them. But that plan was dismissed after other concerns were raised, said Mr. Van Nierop.

"All the experts in the field ... say it's very difficult and very cruel to relocate them. They don't do it without suffering. There is no habitat for the beavers this time of year and many of them end up starving," he said.

The Kitchener-Waterloo Human Society said it received calls from people who opposed the beaver trappings. "We can't stop something that is not illegal," said Elizabeth Bonkink of the Humane Society.

The humane society was satisfied that the trapper did the job legally, and that the university was within its legal right to remove the animals.

Art Timmerman of the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources affirmed that the university had not broken any rules in dealing with the rodents.

"The landowners of the university can deal with nuisance of animals if they feel the animals are damaging their property," said Mr. Timmerman.

 The Ottawa Citizen 2006

Story (TheRecord.com)

UW trap-and-kill policy under attack

Beavers are posing a threat to campus safety, university says

Bob Burtt and Brian Whitwham

University of Waterloo employee Anne Ross is angry about a UW plan to trap and kill beavers responsible for damaging some trees around the campus.

Waterloo (Nov 17, 2006)

The University of Waterloo has hired someone to seize and drown beavers on its property. And some animal lovers don't like it.

The rodents have chopped down several trees on campus in recent months, including one tree that fell near a walking path on the weekend. The school administration said the animals' presence on campus has become a safety issue.

A trapper has been ordered to get rid of them. So far, one beaver has been drowned.

Anne Ross, a secretary at the university, said the traps being used result in a slow, cruel death. She said she and Carole Damms, who shares her concern about animal welfare, spoke to school officials months ago about getting rid of the beavers without killing them.

"What they're doing isn't illegal, just cruel," said Ross, who has long history of rescuing wild animals. "We're very upset because there were alternatives. We offered to look at other options than trapping and drowning beavers."

Ross and Damms met with university vice-president Dennis Huber on Wednesday but couldn't persuade him to have the traps removed.

University spokesperson Martin Van Nierop said the administration didn't take its decision to kill the animals lightly.

"It was the only course of action we felt was reasonable given all the circumstances and safety issues that we were facing," he said.

"This has been going on for weeks and it came to a head over the weekend."

Damms, who is licensed by the Ministry of Natural Resources as a wildlife rehabilitator, said the school's safety concerns seem unwarranted.

All of the trees that would have been a hazard have already fallen, she said.

Damms said the beavers would probably move away on their own if the school simply removed their dams.

She said trapping them live and relocating them is another option but it would be easier in the spring, when the beavers are searching for food.

"Any trapping is cruel," Damms said, "but drowning them really sucks."

Art Timmerman, a wildlife biologist with the Ministry of Natural Resources, said landowners have the right to trap beavers on their property.

He said relocating the beavers might not solve the problem. It could shift them to another area where they would starve because they haven't stored food, Timmerman said.

Also, existing beaver populations have been known to kill newcomers who get too close to their dens, he said.

Timmerman said one alternative to killing the beavers would be wrapping screen or metal mesh around tree trunks to protect them from being chopped. But that could be difficult if there are a lot of trees to protect, he said.

Several students were surprised yesterday to hear that the university is trapping beavers and killing them.

Michelle Zakrison, president of the Federation of Students, said the action seems drastic.

"I don't think most students would be in favour of this," she said. "There's got to be some humane way to relocate them.

"We would like to get more information."

Some students had seen evidence of beavers on campus but were skeptical of the threat they posed to the public.

Adrienne Walpert, 20, said she hadn't noticed the problem but was "shocked and saddened" at the university's decision to trap the animals.

As someone who grew up near Sudbury's nickel mines, Walpert said, she would never advocate drowning the animal that graces the front of the Canadian nickel.

"How is that ethical at all?" she said. "I think they should be left alone."



Story (TheRecord.com)

Leave it to beavers? Some alumni reconsidering donations

Melinda Dalton and Bob Burtt

WATERLOO (Nov 21, 2006)

The controversy surrounding four beavers trapped and killed on the University of Waterloo campus last week continues to swell and even has some alumni reconsidering donations to their alma mater.

University spokesperson Martin Van Nierop said a few dozen alumni and community members have contacted UW, angry with how the school handled the beaver situation.

"Are we concerned? Do we understand what's going on and how they are feeling? The answer is yes," he said.

"Any donation is a donation that we value, but as far as I'm aware of it's a very small number of alumni."

The rodents living in Laurel Creek were killed after they gnawed down several trees on campus in the past few months and were deemed a risk to safety.

The university will reply to all the letters and e-mails received, explaining the university's position, Van Nierop said.

A storm of protest was unleashed when Ann Ross, who works on campus as a secretary, complained about what she felt was inhumane treatment of the beavers.

"I never intended to launch a public debate," she said.

"I had no idea that it would get this much of a reaction," Ross said. ''All I wanted to do was to save the beaver. I feel that I've unleashed something that I can't control and it isn't mine to control.''

More than 300 people have sent letters to the editor at The Record, most of them expressing outrage.

Ross said she never intended to harm the reputation of the university, but rather was hoping to draw attention to a problem she believed could be solved more humanely.

"I don't want people to stop giving to the university," said Ross, who will retire from the university in a few months -- a plan which was in place before the beaver blowup.

Ross said students, co-workers and alumni have contacted her expressing outrage.

Student activists will hold a memorial service tomorrow at noon at the student life centre. Asha Philar said the group wants to discuss wildlife management strategies with the university in the days following the service.

Ross said she and Carole Damms, a licensed wildlife rehabilitator, came across the trapper that the university hired when they visited the area where the beaver den had been on Saturday.

Ross and Damms assumed he was there to check his traps and that the university had lied about pulling the traps by the end of last week after four beavers were trapped.

Van Nierop confirmed that the trapper had been back at the site Saturday, but only to check for beaver activity.

He reiterated earlier statements that the traps had been removed last week and trapping had been discontinued.

The trapper found no sign of other beavers in the area, he said.

Van Nierop said the university had little choice but to have the beavers trapped and killed. The university was reacting to a safety issue and concerns about the well-being of students and faculty who could be hit by falling trees, he said. He said the university sought advice from the Ministry of Natural Resources about the most humane way to deal with the problem.

He said university officials involved are looking at the situation and will be meeting to discuss what happened.




YES: 29; NO: 246




Editorial (TheRecord.com)

When a beaver is your neighbour

(Nov 18, 2006)

Like many southern Ontario landowners, the University of Waterloo has been plagued by beavers destroying its property. And like many southern Ontario landowners, the University of Waterloo has reacted by killing the nuisance animals in underwater traps.

But UW is different from most southern Ontario landowners. And for this reason, one of the nation's most successful and respected institutions of higher learning is now floundering in a different kind of trap -- a trap of negative public opinion.

The word outrage is frequently overused, but in this case it accurately describes how many people regard UW today. They believe the university's decision to kill at least four beavers is cruel. They believe the response was unjustified. And they refuse to accept the university's explanation for its action.

Let's give the university its due. It argues that trees partly downed by beavers could fall on unwitting passersby and constitute a legitimate threat to public safety. It consulted the Ministry of Natural Resources and, after learning that it was the wrong time of year to move the beavers, agreed the best course of action was to kill the creatures. Even the university's critics should accept that it considered many options and would be in even more of a public relations jam if it ignored the problem and a beaver-ravaged tree fell on someone and injured that person.

But the university needs to realize that there are lots of ingredients in the fuel driving public fury. UW is a publicly-supported institution. People feel they have a stake in it. It is a celebrated centre of discovery and innovation where today's technological wunderkinds devise the electronic marvels that will change the world tomorrow. Finding a way to deal with beavers short of exterminating them shouldn't be beyond its capabilities.

The university also has a respected faculty of environmental studies which, according to the university's website, is "committed to improving the understanding, protection, and enhancement of ecological systems." Killing is not named in the mandate.

And while some experts have said the trapping methods used at UW killed the beavers quickly, the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies denounces the same methods for causing "excruciating pain and stress'' to animals that "struggle . . . up to 20 minutes before they die." Meanwhile, on top of everything else, the victims are large, brown, furry and very industrious rodents that happen to be one of Canada's most revered national emblems.

For now, the discussion is a moot one. The university thinks it has killed all the offending beavers. But as the school's administration licks its wounds and answers complaints, it should consider finding a more humane response, one more in line with public sentiment, if beavers should take up residence on campus again.

Why not get environmental studies faculty and students involved? Why not assign the problem to a class of engineers? Cannot our finest minds outwit a rodent without having to kill it?

The taking of life -- including the life of a beaver -- should be the last available option for the ethical mind, one selected only when every other measure has failed or been ruled out. The beavers' defenders make a perfectly reasonable point. We need to find new ways for humans and other animals to live together and in harmony.

Story (The Waterloo Chronicle)


UW beaver killings are legal, says humane society

Jennifer Ormston, Waterloo
Waterloo Chronicle,
Nov 22, 2006

The humane society is recommending that people who are upset about the recent beaver killings at the University of Waterloo contact their MP or the Ministry of Natural Resources.

"People think that we (the humane society) could have done something about this, and, in fact, we can not," said Elizabeth Bonkink, the spokesperson for the Kitchener-Waterloo Humane Society.

"What they've (UW) done is not against the law according to our Ontario laws, the landowner laws as well as animal-welfare laws."

And it's not within the humane society's power to change the laws, she said.

UW has recently been criticized for its decision to trap and kill four beavers who were causing havoc on campus.

Bonkink said the beavers were not drowned -- they were trapped in an underwater conibear trap.

"There's a difference."

The conibear trap is a strong box that is set so that beavers swim through it, said Bill Murch, the information officer for the Ministry of Natural Resources' Guelph office.

Then the sides of the trap come down and generally hit the animal in the back of their neck, in most cases breaking the beaver's spine.

If that doesn't occur, there's "severe shock and trauma to the animal and it quickly succumbs."

"It could either kill instantly or in very short order," Murch said.

"It's very quick and that's what you're looking for in those circumstances."

The humane society's Ontario inspector spoke to the trapper who killed the beavers and the university to determine if there was a cruelty issue in the way the beavers were handled, Bonkink said.

"He found that there was not one."

The rodents had blocked an on-campus creek by erecting dams that were causing water to backup.

As well, they were knocking down trees, one of which fell on a pathway that people use, said Martin Van Nierop, the university's director of communications.

"You could argue it was also becoming a safety hazard in that respect."

After exploring the possibility of a live trapping, the school solicited a licensed trapper to trap and kill the beavers, Van Nierop said.

This decision was in line with the Ministry of Natural Resources' guidelines, which discourage the relocation of beavers, he said.

"This method is considered the most humane method of dealing with them."

The Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act states live-trapped animals can't be relocated further than one kilometre from the area they're trapped in, Murch said.

This stipulation is designed to prevent the spread of disease and to ensure animals are not moved to inappropriate habitats.

And with the beavers at UW, there aren't many suitable places to move them to within one kilometre, he said.

Timing was also a factor in the university's decision.

Right now, beavers are storing food for the winter months, Murch said.

"To relocate an animal at this time of the year puts them under a great deal of stress because you're removing them from their stored food supply."

As well, nearby suitable habitats would likely already be occupied by other animals, including beavers, who would consider the area to be their territory -- a place to protect aggressively, Murch said.

Van Nierop said this is "a very unfortunate situation" with few options.

"You can sentence the beavers that you try to relocate to some sort of conflict with other beavers or death by starvation."

Murch said in cases where beavers on private property are creating a nuisance, the property owner has the right to address the situation directly.

"It's not much different than someone who is dealing with raccoons in their attic or a skunk that's got a den underneath their garage."

Van Nierop said the beaver killings are emotional for the public, and he understands why they are not interested in some of the details behind the university's decision.

"I feel very much for them and I understand that, and the university understands that," he said.

"But, at the end of the day, it was the option given to us as the humane way of dealing with these creatures."

He hopes the beaver problem is solved and no more of these rodents -- which are an emblem of Canada -- will have to die.

Story (TheRecord.com)

Beaver killings 'not cruel'

University's capture of rodents acceptable, humane society says

Brian Whitwham,
Waterloo (Nov 18, 2006)

There is no problem with the way beavers have been killed at the University of Waterloo, according to the humane society.

The university hired a trapper who killed four beavers, despite protests from two animal lovers, and the administration believes it has dealt with its rodent issue.

Kitchener Waterloo Humane Society spsperson Elizabeth Bonkink said an investigator met with university officials yesterday after hearing about the trapping.

"The investigator has concluded there is no cruelty issue," Bonkink said. She said the traps being used on campus cause what the society considers an "instantaneous death."

It's legal and the humane society is confident that the beaver haven't endured any "undue pain or suffering," Bonkink said.

The traps are designed to capture the beaver and cause immediate suffocation.

"The person who did the trapping has 40 years' experience and is known to our investigator."

The university's administration said it hired the trapper after beavers chopped down several trees on campus in recent weeks.

University spokesperson Martin Van Nierop said the school was worried about someone being hurt by a falling tree, especially after one fell near a walking path on the weekend.

But the school didn't take its decision to kill the beavers lightly, he said.

"It's a regrettable decision," he said. "But in terms of the whole situation, this was a humane decision."

Van Nierop said the traps have now been removed.

Anne Ross, who works as a secretary on campus, said there's no way the university should have killed the beavers. She and Carole Damms, a licensed wildlife rehabilitator, had been in touch with members of the administration over the last two months about how to deal with the problem.

Ross said the school should have tried live-trapping the animals and relocating them.

"This could have been an opportunity for some kind of creative solution," she said. "I'm just sorry we've lost four innocent animals. I think it's a shame."

Van Nierop said the school gave Ross and Damms time to find another solution. "We had given them the opportunity to try the live trapping as an option," he said. "It didn't work."

Ross and Damms said they were never given the opportunity.

Damms said it would be particularly difficult to catch and relocate the beavers at this point. She said the beavers have probably stored their food and they won't be moving around much until the winter is over.

She said the university should have waited until the spring to try to relocate them. Moving beavers isn't easy, said Art Timmerman, a wildlife biologist with the Ministry of Natural Resources.

Animals that are relocated must be released within a kilometre of where they're captured, Timmerman said. He said the policy is in place to prevent the spread of disease but it opens up the possibility that the beavers could return after being moved.

Even if the animals are successfully relocated, their safety isn't guaranteed, Timmerman said. If they are released where they haven't stored food, the beavers could starve, he said.

Beavers are also territorial and they might kill newcomers who get too close to their lodges, he said.

Timmerman said it's possible to protect trees from beavers by wrapping their trunks with a screen or metal mesh. That might not be practical if there are a lot of trees, he said.

Ross said she realizes the university has a complicated problem.

"The beaver is a formidable animal," she said. "It's not a cute little cuddly teddy bear."

Damms said yesterday they still hoped to meet with university officials but she wasn't sure how useful a meeting would be. "If they have killed four, that may be it," she said. "I think it's too late."




Letter (TheRecord.com)

Best and brightest?

(Nov 23, 2006)

It is shocking to think that an institution of higher learning (the best and the brightest?) would choose to cruelly kill a few beavers for (oh my) felling a tree. Shame on you, University of Waterloo.

Anne Streeter
Mount Royal, Que.

Letter (TheRecord.com)

Respect wildlife

(Nov 23, 2006)

I'm sure if beavers were an endangered species, the university would have worked harder at relocating them. Since the beavers are just rodents, it seems the university has taken the easy way: killing them.

Shameful, really. There's never too many humans in the world, but it seems four beavers is four too many. I'm tired of hearing about animals being killed just to accommodate people.

Steph Naylor

Letter (TheRecord.com)

Humane Society errs

(Nov 23, 2006)

According to the Nov. 18 article, Beaver Killings Not Cruel, the Kitchener-Waterloo Humane Society has concluded that "there is no cruelty issue" with regard to the University of Waterloo's decision to drown four beavers, and that the beavers did not endure any "undue pain or suffering." This is absurd.

Is trapping and killing under water a method that the humane society employs when it has to euthanize a terminally-ill dog or cat? Obviously not, because that would be considered cruel and inhumane.

Mark Morton

Letter (TheRecord.com)

Think of the animals

(Nov 23, 2006)

It seems most of humanity have no concept that other animals on the planet have a right to their lives. If we encroach on their territory, we think nothing of it until a problem occurs. And then it's always the animals who are the problem. Killing these beavers is a thoughtless, despicable way of dealing with this situation. I am appalled.

Carole Moran

Letter (TheRecord.com)

Don't blame beavers

(Nov 23, 2006)

Isn't there a single person with common sense in the University of Waterloo administration?

How is it that one of the best environmental studies departments in Canada wasn't given a chance to use its ecological expertise to create a plan to integrate the beaver and human habitats in a way which would allow both to coexist?

Since when did "beavers felling a tree" begin to equal "destroying university property"? Obviously, the administrators have failed to take any ecological courses at their own institution.

For those of us paying high tuition fees to attend classes at this once-esteemed institution, it is rare and very much appreciated to see any form of natural life on campus, whether it be geese, carp, squirrels, or heaven forbid, a beaver. Perhaps instead of killing the beavers in fear of a lawsuit from someone dense enough to stand beside a half-cut tree, the university could simply have chopped down the tree in question, allowing the beavers to get what they want while simultaneously ensuring the safety of the students.

Travis Gliedt

Letter (TheRecord.com)

Seek options for beavers

(Nov 23, 2006)

I'm very concerned about the trapping and killing of the beavers on the University of Waterloo campus.

Anne Ross, a UW secretary, and Carole Damms, a licensed wildlife rehabilitator, had presented other suggestions and options to school officials about alternative means of dealing with the beavers, but university vice-president Dennis Huber couldn't be persuaded to consider other options. Is there any logical reason for this closed-mindedness?

Is there any way that the university can be forced to consider other humane alternatives in dealing with the beavers? I, for one, am interested in volunteering assistance for meshing trees, relocating beavers, etc., to avoid this needless cruelty. Anybody else?

Terry Offord

Letter (The Ottawa Citizen)

Part of heritage

The Ottawa Citizen
Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Re: University under fire for killing beavers, Nov. 16.

Did Waterloo University try any other methods of habitation deterrent before the beavers were removed? In the national capital region, as well as many other urban areas in Canada, wire mesh is placed around tree trunks to prevent beaver damage. Beavers are part of our heritage, too. I suspect a new family of these industrious rodents will quickly replace the one that was trapped.

Curt Sorrey,

Letter (TheRecord.com)

Protect the beavers

(Nov 22, 2006)

Please do not kill the beavers.

The University of Waterloo can place them somewhere in the wild where man's intolerance doesn't bother their peaceful living. I was fascinated by watching them in a natural environment in the Valais, Switzerland. They are protected by law here.

Ursula Gunti

Letter (TheRecord.com)

Close troublesome paths

(Nov 22, 2006)

According to the University of Waterloo, drowning the beavers is more humane, because they would starve to death if relocated at this time of year. So, if safety is the issue, why don't they close the troublesome pathway to human traffic and relocate them in the spring?

Trees can be replanted, and people can avoid the danger area if marked properly.

William Cowdy

Letter (TheRecord.com)

Move beavers in spring

Nov 22, 2006)

The beavers should be moved in the spring, when they will have time to establish a new place to live. I think with a little education on beavers' habitat and needs, they could co-habit with the university until the spring.

Melissa Henderson


Letter (TheRecord.com)

How could this happen?

Nov 22, 2006)

I am extremely upset with the fact that the University of Waterloo took the approach it did regarding the beaver population on its property.

I'm assuming that the university officials figured it was the quickest and cheapest route for them to take, but, unfortunately, it looks apparent to me that they gave absolutely no thought at all in wanting to preserve these beavers' lives or the "backlash" that their actions have created.

As a learning institution where tolerance and acceptance of all living creatures is taught and expected, what happened?

Joan Garner


Letter (TheRecord.com)

Relocate the beavers

Nov 22, 2006)

When I read about the University of Waterloo's decision to trap and kill beavers on campus, I was concerned. I knew that there had to be other, more humane solutions to the problem. As a student at the University of Waterloo in urban and regional planning, which is in the environmental studies faculty, I, among others in my faculty, feel very strongly about this issue.

I am aware that approximately half the university's north campus is devoted to an environmental reserve with no buildings and few walkways, so why not just relocate the beavers there?

Simply relocating the beavers to the north campus is a more compassionate way to solve the problem they created for pedestrians' safety. It would also have been a move that would have maintained the University of Waterloo's supposedly strong commitment to the environment.

Mike Witmer

Letter (TheRecord.com)

Save the beaver

(Nov 18, 2006)

I am appalled at the news regarding the beavers' plight on the University of Waterloo's property.

I am speechless and angry that the university's answer is to slaughter the beavers.

How dare the university kill the beavers in the first place and in such an inhumane way.

How can it condone this solution when the population of Waterloo Region has just spoken out strongly about the preservation of the Waterloo moraine and our environment in our local elections? Yet here is the university killing off the wildlife.

How can it slaughter a creature that was here long before the university was?

How can it kill off a national symbol of Canada?

Surely, there must be other ways to solve this.

Many, many people in this community would have helped if the university had asked.

Stop this right now.

Linda Southall

Letter (TheRecord.com)

University failed to think of wider world

(Nov 18, 2006)

The University of Waterloo is an outstanding community-service provider that for years has been at the forefront of innovation.

So when it came to a few beavers trying to carve out a small niche in an otherwise large university, it was no surprise that the university sprang to action.

So why wouldn't they create a plan that not only fosters the "beaver" environment but also creates a unique area within the university for the students to enjoy this spectacle of Canadianism.

Well, the plan the university came up with was brilliant! What better way to show your Canadian, community and environmental spirit than to kill the beavers!

The beavers obviously didn't pay their tuition for the year so why not kill them? A symbol of Canada has been killed by a university that prides itself on being the No. 1 university in the country.

What a sad spectacle of planning and innovation and what a missed opportunity for the university and its students.

Please, UW, think, think of the animals. Think of the students and think of the environment around you because the world is a lot bigger than you are.

Jeff Kauk

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