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'Barbaric': Aurora 'sneakily' resuming use of inhumane conibear beaver traps, woman says

Town only uses traps as 'utmost final solution' when beavers risk public safety and property damage
May 10, 2021
Lisa Queen

Animal lovers, Elaine Evans is asking you to once again fight the Town of Aurora after the municipality has “sneakily” decided to resume using “barbaric” beaver traps.

Evans first raised alarm bells after her boyfriend’s dog, Molly, was almost caught in a conibear trap in December northeast of Bayview Avenue and St. John’s Sideroad.

She was shocked to discover it was the town laying the traps by hiring licensed trappers.

Conibear traps are condemned by animal welfare groups, which say they cause slow, agonizing death by drowning for trapped animals, but supported by others, who say they are used as a last resort to rid areas of nuisance beavers causing flooding risks.

Arguing many jurisdictions use humane beaver management methods and stressing conibear traps pose a danger to children, pets and other animals, Evans collected more than 4,500 signatures on a petition at, pleading with the town to stop using the traps.

The municipality, which has used traps for more than 30 years, agreed to suspend their use “as a result of public outcry” while it consulted with other agencies.

According to the Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority (LSRCA), beavers can significantly interfere with the operation of stormwater ponds, causing flooding dangers and putting municipalities at risk of lawsuits if lives and property are lost.

Unfortunately, deterring beavers is not simple and leaving beavers unchecked is not an option, said the authority, adding it supports municipal efforts to explore alternatives to traps.

Aurora is quietly resume using traps beginning in May, which Evans only discovered through an email from Coun. Harold Kim.

Acknowledging this is a difficult issue for the public, the town said it must focus on public health, safety and costly damage to infrastructure, adding the traps are only used after other methods fail.
Not only is Evans upset Aurora is using the traps again, she’s outraged the town hasn’t told residents of its plans.

She also questions whether the town is using the threat of flooding as a ruse to approve a six-storey condo building with underground parking near Bayview and St. John’s, as she believes it would be impossible for a beaver dam to flood existing homes on higher ground.

In an email to the Aurora Banner, the town said beaver dams have resulted in flooded parkland and trails, and disrupted the flow of water through the town’s storm system.

Beavers have also left trees in “extremely hazardous conditions” adjacent to homes and in the Aurora Community Arboretum.

The town said it has a mitigation program that includes not planting trees favoured by beavers.

Using traps as “the utmost final solution” when other methods fail, the town pointed out the Ministry of Natural Resources does not support relocating beavers because they are territorial.

However, Evans argues the ministry benefits financially by selling trap licenses to trappers.

The town did not respond to other questions, including the location of three active beaver sites and how a beaver dam in a low-lying area can cause a flooding risk to higher-ground properties.

In an email to the Banner, Kim said dealing with beavers is a “tough situation. As always, life is high priority. And we need to look under every stone to ensure that all options have been considered. The town follows the LSRCA and MNR guidelines as all municipalities must follow them.”

It’s time Aurora join municipalities using humane beaver management methods, Evans said.

“It is possible to coexist with our wildlife. Cruel trapping is not the only way to deal with this nuisance creature,” she said.

“People feel sick about this, and so do I.”

She encouraged residents to email, or call 905-727-3123.

Newmarket is not using the traps as it consults on alternative methods for beaver management, public works said in an email.

Deputy Mayor Tom Vegh is considering introducing a bylaw banning the use of the traps in Newmarket.