The Chronicle Herald (Metro)
Woman upset beavers killed along nature trail
SCOTCHTOWN — A New Waterford woman is questioning why the province is killing wildlife on a nature trail.
Jennifer Lemoine said the beavers the public enjoyed so much along the Summit Recreational Trail in Scotchtown are being live-trapped and killed by a trapper, sanctioned by the Nova Scotia Department of Lands and Forestry.
“What's bewildering to me is that they are killing nature on a nature trail,” said Lemoine.
“I loved going up there watching the beavers, everyone does. That's what a nature trail should be there for.”
HORRIFIED OVER DISCOVERY
The Summit park is one of many old DEVCO properties around the Cape Breton Regional Municipality, which was reclaimed years ago and repurposed, this one into a park with nature trails.
Lemoine has enjoyed walking the Summit trail ever since it was built and was overjoyed a couple of years ago to see beavers had built a little dam there. She loved watching them working in the pond.
“Everyone did, there was always someone there with cameras," she said.
A number of weeks ago, the beavers put a log across the opening of a culvert by Daley Road, near the park.
“There was no flooding at that point, all they had to do was remove the log and that would have let the water drain through,” she said.
However it was left and Lemoine said with all the rain the water started to back up, which brought it to someone's attention.
When she recently went back to the trail, she noticed the beaver dam had been dug up.
Lemoine said she was walking her dog Winston on a retractable leash and he was by the edge of the water when she saw a beaver trap.
“He was inches away from getting his head snapped off," she said. “My heart sank as then I realized they are killing the beavers there.”
Lemoine said she was with her wife Jillian Roper at the time and got her to hold their dog while she threw a log at the trap to set it off so another animal — or even a child — couldn't get hurt.
“The kick from that was unbelievable,” she said. “It flung the log right off into the water. What if children had been walking there?”
When they got home they called the local office of Lands and Forestry.
“They said, “Oh you found our traps, did you?” Lemoine said.
Lemoine said it was upsetting, as the response was given in a joking manner.
“They said someone got a nuisance licence.”
She reported the trap on the bank edge and was told the traps were supposed to be under the water.
The following day she was on the trail and saw a man who had his dog in the water there and warned him.
“The man was mortified, had no idea, and took his dog right out,” she said.
Lemoine questions why warning signs weren't posted.
“People are coming up there with kids and dogs playing at the edge of the waterline,” she said
“That's how I found out, my dog almost got his head snapped off.”
However, Lemoine said she also wants to know why they had to kill the beavers instead of simply taking the dam out, which would have taken the beavers another two years to put back up. As well, the money to hire a trapper could have been used to hire a tractor to clean out the dams.
“Or why not relocate them,” she said. “Why do they have to kill them off?”
NOVA SCOTIA LANDS AND FORESTRY
In a statement, the Department of Lands and Forestry said they maintain a list of licensed nuisance wildlife operators. If someone calls regarding a local issue in their area such as a flooded road or septic field, their local offices would provide them with a list of the operators in their area.
In this case, a flooding issue was reported to their office by Public Services and Procurement Canada, as the landowner. Lands and Forestry staff visited the site and confirmed beavers were causing flooding at this location. The landowner was provided contacts for the nuisance wildlife operators and a permit was issued. The department further stated Lands and Forestry is not involved in the actual contract or any compensation between the operator and the landowner.
At the Summit trail, all traps were set underwater but Lands and Forestry did get a report of a trap on dry land, explaining likely the result of someone removing a portion of the dam causing water levels to drop and expose one of the traps. They said staff reached out immediately to the operator who rectified the situation the same day.
Brian Taylor, a spokesman with Lands and Forestry, said while all options are considered before issuing a permit, generally speaking, beavers are able to quickly replace what is removed from any structure they build and frequently build stronger dams in place. Relocating beavers risks creating similar problems elsewhere or conflicts with other beavers in a new area, as they are very territorial.
Taylor said the traps have been removed from the Summit Recreational Trail area.
In 2021, nine permits have been issued in the Cape Breton area, none of which are currently active. Legal traps used in Nova Scotia must go through a testing process and are certified under the nationally recognized humane trapping standards.
Taylor said it's illegal to tamper with a legally set trap in Nova Scotia. Concerns about a trap can be reported to a local Lands and Forestry office.