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Archive for October, 2007

Beaver Grave

24 beavers killed at UNB facility to stop flooding, damage to University property
By: Tom Henheffer, The Aquinian

Dead beavers lead to dead birds, dead fish and a dead woodlot, according to Mark D’Arcy.

D’Arcy, a University of New Brunswick alumnus, is protesting the deaths of 24 beavers that were killed to prevent further damage to infrastructure like roads, bridge abutments and sections of the lot used by forestry students.

D’Arcy and his wife Caroline, active members of Friends of the UNB woodlot, set up tombstones at the bottom entrance to UNB in memoriam of the beavers and to make people aware of development going on at the woodlot.

“Beavers create and maintain water areas that fish habitats can collect in during periods of drought, that birds can congregate in,” D’Arcy said. “They’re essential for a healthy ecosystem.” According to an e-mail D’Arcy provided to The Aquinian from Cade Libby, wildlife biologist, Fish and Wildlife Branch, New Brunswick Department of Natural Resources, UNB was within their rights to trap the beavers.

“The Department of Natural Resources issued a permit in 2006 to remove nuisance beaver(s) that were causing damage to infrastructure (roads, culverts, bridges) and creating safety hazards within those lands … known as the University of New Brunswick Wildlife Refuge and Burpee Wildlife Management Area,” wrote Libby.

“According to Subsection 34(4) of the Fish and Wildlife Act, private property owners may remove nuisance wildlife as listed in subsection 34(5), to prevent damage to private
property or to prevent injury to the owners or occupants of private land.” Libby also wrote that the department has no concerns about the population of beavers in the province.

In a private meeting with Libby, D’Arcy was told that the beavers were removed using Conibear body gripping kill traps.

“There’s no way to guarantee the beaver?s going to be caught in the proper position,” D’Arcy said.

“These are aquatic animals. They can survive easily up to twenty minutes in one of these body gripping traps” he said.

The Aquinian contacted UNB’s president and spokesperson, both were unavailable for comment last week.

D’Arcy said getting rid of those beavers will not solve the problem because they migrate over long distances and can re-populate areas.

The area is question, commonly referred to as the UNB woodlot is under development. They have promised that only half of the lot will be developed.

In an article featured in the UNB Alumni News plans for the development of the university’s endowed land are given and it explains that in 2004 UNB approved a management strategy for all of the land endowment.

“Among the key tenets of the strategy are provisions that state UNB is committed to gradual, thoughtful and responsible land development and conservation carried out under strict principles of appropriate design and long-term sustainability,” read the article.

In the article, UNB President John McLaughlin is quoted as saying, “Land is one of UNB’s key assets, both as an important resource for teaching and research, and as an endowment
that can generate revenue and support our mission.”
The university is developing the parts of the land not designated as conservation land. The other half is being conserved, but D’Arcy questions how these conservation areas are being managed.

“They piecemeal it,” he said. “You’re going to have all these conservation areas isolated form each other and they?re going to be meaningless.”

Dr. Graham Forbes is a forestry professor at UNB. He doesn?t think the university wants to destroy the woodlot’s wetlands, but agrees that the way conservation areas are set up is a problem.

“There are ways you can (develop) which are better for the environment,” Forbes said.

“What we’ve seen so far is what’s typically called flat earth planning. You go in, level everything and plant a few trees afterward,” he said.

D’Arcy said beaver deceivers are a good non-lethal way to prevent flooding. A beaver deceiver is made up of pieces of PVC pipe stuck through a dam to let water drain. He added that they have been used with a lot of success in Quebec’s Gatineau Park.

“If there are other management practices being used with a lot of history and a lot of experience, and a lot of success, why isn’t UNB using them,” he asked.

D’Arcy’s wife, Caroline Lubbe-D’Arcy, criticized the university for trying to keep the woodlot and the deaths of the beavers out of the media.

She said UNB is trying to make people think it is too late to change the fate of the woodlot.

“People are really mad,” she said. “But a lot of people think there’s nothing that can be done. The powers-that-be decide and the little people just have to put up with it,” she said.

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