Corp Comm Connects

Update: After second public outcry, Aurora mayor moves to ban beaver traps

Woman calls traps 'barbaric' but town said it only uses them as 'utmost final solution' when beavers pose risk
May 12, 2021
Lisa Queen

After accusing Aurora of "sneakily" resuming the use of "barbaric" beaver traps, Elaine Evans is applauding a move by Mayor Tom Mrakas to try to have the devices banned in town.

Evans, who has strongly lobbied the town to ban controversial conibear traps after her fiance's dog, Molly, was almost caught in one in December, said she's "immensely relieved and cautiously optimistic" after Mrakas said he will introduce a motion asking council to direct staff to stop using them.

Mrakas's announcement on the Aurora - Our Town Facebook page last weekend followed a second public outcry over the traps after Evans and The Aurora Banner posted about the town quietly resuming use of the devices after a temporarily suspension.

Mrakas called a return to using the traps “untenable” and said banning them is “the right thing to do.”

His motion, if passed by council, will see the town forgo the traps in favour of removing beaver dams, which cause flooding risks.

He pointed out the Ministry of Natural Resources opposes relocating beavers because they are very territorial and rarely survive.

Saying the traps are cruel and subject animals to prolonged, agonizing deaths, Evans is pleased Mrakas is moving to ban them.

“It took a lot of public pressure but it sounds like the mayor is finally listening to the people who have been begging him to take action,” she said.

“Hundreds, if not thousands, of people have expressed shock and horror over the use of these traps. Not only are the traps excessively cruel, they also pose a real threat to other wildlife, dogs and people.”

She collected more than 4,500 signatures on her petition at
Even if Aurora bans the traps, Evans said the next step is convincing the Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority to allow municipalities to use devices to manage water flow to mitigate flooding risks posed by beaver dams.

“This is a great first step but there is more work to do. I just want to thank everyone for being so passionate, and for helping to move our town toward a kinder future,” she said.

According to the authority, 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 them unchecked is not an option, said the authority, adding it supports municipal efforts to explore alternatives to traps.

Before Mrakas announced he will work to ban the traps, Aurora was set to 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 and safety and costly damage to infrastructure, adding the traps are only used after other methods fail.

Not only was Evans upset Aurora planned to start using the traps again, she was outraged the town hadn’t told residents of its plans.

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 said.

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.”

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 a bylaw banning the traps in Newmarket.