Beaver cull draws criticism from Annapolis Royal residents

·3 min read

The culling of two beavers in Annapolis Royal this week has drawn criticism from residents, but the mayor says it was necessary to protect the town's sewage treatment plant.

"We felt that the situation just couldn't be allowed to sit because we had no idea what the beavers were doing underground," Mayor Amery Boyer told CBC's Mainstreet on Friday.

"... It appeared that they were burrowing into the dyke system so that really kind of escalated things for us."

Boyer said the town originally received a complaint about beavers destroying trees on French Basin Trail.

But after consulting the Department of Lands and Forestry, the town's public works department and the Clean Annapolis River Project, it was discovered the beavers also posed a "significant risk to the town's tertiary sewage treatment plant, as well as the adjacent trail and dyke systems."

The marsh near the French Basin Trail is part of the treatment system for the town's wastewater.

"If there was a blockage, we could have flooding of the walkways. We could have exposure of contaminated water," Boyer said.

"If there's burrowing into the sides of the treatment plant, it could cause the walls of the treatment plant to collapse."

Town opted against relocation

Boyer said the town did consider relocating the beavers.

"The answer we got was that nearly all suitable habitat in the province already has a colony of beavers and apparently they do not usually accept outsiders, which gives little chance of survival for the beavers," she said.

After that conclusion, town council hired a nuisance wildlife operator to remove the beavers.

A notice about the removal was posted in the Annapolis Royal Town Crier and was shared on Facebook, where it drew criticism from residents.

"I couldn't believe, firstly, that people complained [about the beavers] because it is a nature area. It's natural, it's a marsh, and you expect [to see] animals," Susan Woodland, a resident of Annapolis Royal, told Mainstreet on Thursday.

"Secondly, I couldn't believe, basically, that they were going to be killed because it says they can't be relocated. So my first step was to find out, was there not something else they could do?"

Woodland contacted Hope for Wildlife, a wildlife sanctuary in Seaforth, N.S. She said the owner agreed that relocation was not ideal this time of year, but recommended relocation be delayed until the spring.

But Boyer said there was no time to wait, especially if damage could be done to the $968,000 treatment plant.

"We did feel it was a time constraint. We just couldn't let the situation get beyond us," she said.

Boyer said she understands why residents were upset, but the beavers could have caused more damage than originally thought.

"We live closely with wildlife. There's a lot of respect for wildlife. It's just that in this particular situation, we didn't see a way out."