Archive for June, 2008

The University of New Brunswick is defending a decision to trap and kill 24 beavers on its woodlot two years ago.  A group planning a protest in front of the school gates this morning is calling on the university to commit not to kill any more of the animals and to conduct a comprehensive environmental assessment of its wetlands.
“What’s going to happen if we remove the beavers, compromise the wetlands, develop all around them and make those wetlands effectively meaningless? What’s going to happen to the city of Fredericton?” said Mark D’Arcy, a UNB alumnus and spokesman for the Friends of the UNB Woodlot.

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Fredericton Citizens Protest University’s Killing of Beavers Using Body-Gripping Conibear Traps

The University of New Brunswick slates over 1500 acres of its forested wetlands for development and uses a device banned in several parts of the world to rid the area of beavers.

Fredericton, N.B., Canada June 25, 2008 –

A group of concerned citizens in Fredericton, N.B. is calling on the University of New Brunswick to stop killing its woodlot beavers and to conduct a comprehensive environmental assessment of its forested wetlands.

UNB has two very prominent beavers on their emblem holding a book of knowledge with the latin phrase that translates “Dare to be wise”.

A group of citizens holding signs that read “Killing Beavers? UNBelievable!” and “UNB: Dead is Not Wise” will be protesting at UNB’s gates from 7:45-8:45 am Friday, June 27th. They will then march up the short walk to the historic King’s College – the first public university in North America – and hand-deliver letters to the President, Dr. John McLaughlin and the Chair, UNB Board of Governors, Mr. David Stevenson.

“In preparation for big box store development, at least 24 beavers were killed using conibear traps,” says Caroline Lubbe-D’Arcy, a member of Friends of the UNB Woodlot, a group concerned with the fate of the UNB woodlot.

“The Conibear trap is known even among the trappers as a body-holding trap.” says Fann Fannya Eden, Program Coordinator of Fur-Bearer Defenders, a Vancouver-based wildlife protection society working to stop trapping cruelty and protect fur-bearing animals since 1944. “It often fails to strike the animal right on the neck causing a quick death because the animal size, the speed, and the direction of the entry cannot be predicted. The Conibear trap often clamps onto any part of the animal’s body from snout to tail, causing horrendous pain and a slow, agonizing death.”

Conibear traps are banned/restricted in eleven states in the U.S. and a growing number of municipalities across North America, including cities in British Columbia, Washington State, Virginia, Wisconsin, Colorado, and Massachusetts.

Earlier this month, the mayor of Surrey, B.C. spoke out against the use of conibears after learning they had been used to cull beavers in her city. She is currently taking her concerns to the B.C. Environment Ministry.

Conibear traps pose a risk for more than beavers. In 2002, in Abbottsford, B.C, a boy curious about a chain he saw dangling into a nearby pond, pulled up a trap and subsequently got his leg trapped. Dogs across the country have also fallen victim. As conibear traps are notoriously difficult to open once sprung, many owners have stood by helplessly as their pets have died.

“UNB had choices available to them,” says Mark D’Arcy, another member of Friends of the UNB Woodlot. “In West Vancouver, for instance, they are very successfully using “beaver deceivers”, an anti-flooding device that has been used in Europe for about 40 years. Proper road design using arched or gull-winged culverts eliminate much of this work altogether since the beavers can’t block them.”

Friends of the UNB Woodlot offered to pay for the pipes and hardware necessary for beaver management but UNB administrators declined.

Historical research now show that without beavers, wetlands will deteriorate, and will become decreased in size by up to 90%. “Beavers are necessary for the maintenance of the wetlands which are, by law, protected,” says Mark D’Arcy. “A university, of all places, has certain social and environmental responsibilities,” (s)he added.

“Kudos to Friends of the UNB Woodlot for working to spare beavers from suffering prolonged, agonizing deaths in body-gripping traps,” says PETA’s Cruelty Investigations Department Vice President Daphna Nachminovitch. “Unless UNB modifies the habitat to make it unattractive and inaccessible to beavers, more beavers will simply move in to take the place of those who were killed, resulting in a cruel, endless trap-and-destroy cycle.”

The group is also calling on UNB to impose a moratorium on development until a comprehensive environmental impact assessment of the forested wetlands is conducted.

“Unfortunately, there is a loophole in environmental legislation which has allowed UNB to avoid such an assessment to date,” says Friends of the UNB Woodlot member Monika Stelzl. “In fact, even the limited EIA which should have been, by law, conducted on the current site of Home Depot was not done.”

“There is a lot of support by Fredericton City Council for big box development — which they keep referring to as progress,” says Friends of the UNB Woodlot member Carla Gunn. “We can only speculate about how decisions are being made in this city and what goes on between the various stakeholders. All we know for sure is that an assessment that would have slowed down or even halted development was disregarded.”

“A comprehensive environmental assessment needs to be done and beavers need to be re-introduced and managed properly to ensure that the integrity of the wetlands is maintained. Manage the beavers, and, in turn, they will manage the wetlands.”, concludes Carla Gunn.

For more information, contact:

Mark D’Arcy and Carla Gunn, Spokespersons, The Friends of the UNB Woodlot
Telephone: 1-506-454-5119 (Mark)
Telephone: 1-506-455-0695 (Carla)


Website: www.smartgrowthUNB.ca
Facebook: “I don’t want the UNB woodlot turned into Big-Box Strip Malls” (1236 members)
YouTube: search for “UNB Woodlot”
E-mail: friendsoftheUNBwoodlot@gmail.com

The Friends of the UNB Woodlot Strategy Group:
Andrew Bedford
Mark D’Arcy
Carla Gunn
Dr. Caroline Lubbe-D’Arcy
Charlene Mayes
Janet Phillipps
Dr. Monika Stelzl

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By Carla Gunn

June 1, 2008

As an institute of higher learning, the University of New Brunswick has a number of social responsibilities which are reflected in its mission statement. This essay explores how this very statement, along with the UNB slogan, code of conduct and research generated by its own faculty are all inconsistent with the Board of Governor’s decision to allow development of over 1500 acres of the UNB Woodlot. As a major stakeholder, the City of Fredericton’s reaction to this development is also discussed, particularly as it relates to its “Green Matters” Campaign. Read more….

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By Monika Stelzl, Fredericton

June 16, 2008

Recently, UNB’s board of governors approved a plan to develop 1,500 acres of the UNB woodlot, a complex ecosystem which is home to many species.

What the social and environmental consequences of this will be is anyone’s guess. However, a municipal-plan document from 1989 states that the woodlot is an environmentally sensitive area and must not be developed.

Part of this is because the woodlot is important to recharging our downtown aquifer — the sole drinking water supply for Fredericton.

In light of this, I am appalled that Mayor Brad Woodside stated on CBC Information Morning recently that he will not advocate for a comprehensive environmental assessment of the woodlot — something which, to date, UNB has managed to evade.

This is not the reaction I would expect from the mayor of a city whose citizens may not only have a drinking water crisis on its hands due to the woodlot development, but who will also likely be forced to foot the bill for extensive infrastructure to deal with enormous amounts of water heading down the hill.

This at a time of warnings of more extreme rain events due to climate change.

Absorbing massive amounts of water is something that the over 3,800 acres of forest floor in the UNB woodlot has been doing for free.

What this city needs to do, to quote the words of Dr. Don Cameron, a former resident of Fredericton, is to “go beyond braindead accounting” and start assigning value to that which is profoundly invaluable.

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Frog in the UNB Woodlot

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