Ontario residents petition against evictions of ‘innocent’ beavers

More than 200 people have signed a petition against the evictions, saying the beavers use the area as a home

A battle over the fate of beavers in Ontario is pitting two sides against each other – environmentalists who believe the creatures have been fighting for their lives, and property owners and some of the area’s users who say their property has been trashed.

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Residents and visitors in the town of Picton, near Hamilton, are fuming after last week’s eviction order from Metrolinx, Ontario’s transportation planning agency. It has evicted the 28 beavers and their den from a pond that is home to Canada’s largest beaver population.

In a blogpost, Metrolinx described its decision as the result of consulting with many interested parties, including residents, but residents want no part of their beavers being kicked out.

Metrolinx on Monday began cleaning up the water at the beaver pond in Picton, Ontario, but was ordered to stay away by local officials. Photograph: Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press via AP

“The beavers use the area as a home base and the removal has impacted their ability to gather food, be male and female bonding, sustain complex animal behaviour and their natural offspring and meet a living need to live in this area,” Metrolinx wrote.

While Metrolinx has given the beavers until Saturday to leave, residents say that it should be up to them to decide whether the creatures stay or go. The area is a popular outdoor activity for residents, while the beavers use the pond as a home base, the Guardian reported.

Their spokesman told the Toronto Star: “They’re not bad. We like them. We want them to stay. It’s very important to the community.”

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Many residents have voiced their anger online.

“People in Hamilton, and specifically in Picton, don’t appreciate the little environmental impacts,” said Lou Torres, president of the We Wish to Make a Difference Foundation, an environmental organization in Queen’s Park, Ontario. “We don’t care. All we care about is making money.”

Metrolinx defended its decision, saying that beavers waste water in the pond and create ponds that are inaccessible to children and pets.

“Council and staff did everything possible to keep these invasive beavers in their pond, including chasing them and capturing them one by one,” Metrolinx said in a statement. “It became clear that with continued infestations of invasive aquatic vegetation and flooding, the pond could no longer sustain a beaver population.”

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Beavers are common in some forests in Ontario, Quebec and Nova Scotia, but are usually disassociated with humans, except for the odd roadkill. They are not seen as a threat to humans.

But environmentalists say they are causing environmental problems by discharging their waste into waterways, and have been threatening to demolish beaver ponds with slingshot-style devices that explode the decaying waste, capable of emitting a choking stink.

The beavers, for their part, are sad to leave. They are territorial and fond of chases and claw fights, and Chucky was a famous beaver mascot until he was decapitated by boating on a rainy day.

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