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Trapped beaver provokes criticism

The trapping of beavers at the Grafton Lake dam has come under fire from a Bowen citizen who says the municipality is doing it in an illegal manner.

The trapping of beavers at the Grafton Lake dam has come under fire from a Bowen citizen who says the municipality is doing it in an illegal manner.

Long-time islander, Mike Braraten obtained a photo that he said was taken earlier this month of a dead beaver. He is convinced it was killed out of season and in a way that does not comply with the wildlife act.

In the absence of Bob Robinson, the municipality's superintendent of utilities, who is away for the week, the Undercurrent spoke with municipal CAO Brent Mahood about the photo. Mahood said beavers have not been trapped and killed there since the spring.

He said the removal of the animals can be a necessary evil but that they are revisiting the manner in which it will be done.

Braraten notes the photo shows the beaver ensnared on the path by the dam and believes the animal was killed recently. Regulations do not allow beavers to be killed outside between May 1 and September 30. It is not known how the trap got there. It seems unlikely anyone would set a trap there, endangering people who happened upon it. It is possible someone came upon the dead creature elsewhere and moved it there.

Mahood said the trapper the municipality hired to remove the animals through a killing trap has died.

Municipal staff had to locate and remove the traps themselves. He believes this trap was inadvertently left behind.

The CAO says that if the beaver was killed out of season it would be due to the trap sitting under water all this time. The municipality would not know it was there. Regulations require a trap to be two feet underwater and Braraten believes the animal was not killed in accordance with that regulation.

Meanwhile, the B.C. hunting and trapping regulations state that "it is an offence to trap on private property without...written permission of the property owner." Lee Rennison, whose family controls a company owning the property, said Wednesday that the ownership group "haven't given permission and we wouldn't give permission" for beavers to be killed on their property.

Mahood and Rennison talked on the phone Wednesday and Mahood said he understands wishes of owners. "We are revisiting the whole process and will be looking at ways of dealing with it", such as live-trapping and removal. He said they would not do anything the owners do not want done upon their property.

The removal of beavers is an issue in many areas of B.C. Beaver dams can interrupt the passage of salmon and trout, can cause overflows onto roads and beyond and could contaminate a water system, in this case the Cove Bay Water System. There are guidelines on how to deal with beavers and dam regulations that require their removal should they create problems.

As Braraten notes, there are relocations areas in B.C. for live-trapped beavers.