Plan to 'trap and kill' beavers divides local beach town

·2 min read

A move to protect turtles in a Lake Huron community has led to a backlash against a flood-control plan some say needlessly condemns area beavers.

Port Franks residents say a metal grate system installed to keep beavers out of a culvert on Outer Drive Road at L Lake was removed in recent years to let turtles pass.

But with the cage gone and beavers back in action – plugging the culvert – a proposal to “trap and kill” the rodents is the wrong way to go, said Janice Cuckovic, who lives on the lake.

“I understand that the turtles are important,” she said. “I just don't understand why the beaver is expendable . . . I think what it boils down to is dollars and cents because it’s just easier to kill the beaver than to think of another solution.”

Cuckovic said discussions on a community Facebook group are ongoing and many of her neighbours aren’t happy with the trapping. About 70 people expressed concern in an online poll she created, she said.

Tony and Karen Puzara, whose property overlooks part of the lake — which belongs to the local conservation authority — said they found trappers near their property last week.

“My biggest issue is, it doesn't feel like we've looked at options other than killing the beaver," she said. “If we kill the dam, we get another beaver and then the next beaver is killed, too.”

The Puzaras said the municipality of Lambton Shores has been receptive to questions, but no alternative has been proposed.

“There are very few (alternatives),” said Stephen McAuley, Lambton Shores community services director. “There’s relocation, but the ministry doesn’t support that in this area because you’re basically moving the problem to somebody else.”

It hasn’t been confirmed whether any beavers have been killed near the culvert since traps were set.

"There's little we can do. We can't let the road flood," McAuley said, noting he's received flooding complaints from others in the area.

Citing the area's wildlife and biodiversity on the floodplain, residents say the authority’s work is critical to saving turtles in the area, but urge the municipality to take another approach that doesn’t harm other animals.

“What would prevent an otter from swimming into this trap and being killed?” Puzara said.

The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada

Calvi Leon, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, London Free Press

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