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Airdrie's plan to euthanize problematic beavers draws pushback

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AIRDRIE, Alta. -

Every morning, Brent Baker walks along the river near his house in Airdrie to visit his neighbours.

The furry residents don't live along the water — they live in it.

"I've lived here since May 1, 1988," Baker told CTV News, "and the beavers have been here longer than I have been.

"They're part of nature, they belong here."

But not everyone in the city north of Calgary agrees.

The beavers have been gnawing on neighbourhood trees and restricting the flow of the Nosehill Creek that runs through the city.

Now, City of Airdrie officials have adopted a plan to trap and destroy the semiaquatic rodents.

"Aesthetics are certainly part of it," says Eugene Lund of Airdrie Parks. "If a tree sustains enough damage, it can become a risk for people in that area because it could fall over in a windstorm." 

The city has begun euthanizing the beavers, saying it's the only way to solve the problem.

While many residents want the beavers relocated out of town rather than killed, authorities say that approach would prove problematic.

"A beaver can be very territorial," explained Lund, "If you move a beaver from one area to another you can create issues.

"There is also the risk of the transfer of disease."

Alberta Environment officials agree, saying moving beavers, especially as winter approaches, rarely succeeds.

Relocating them to new territory could also increase their aggression.

But one animal rights group says there are options other than euthanization and relocation. 

"Many communities across North America have implemented non lethal solutions to manage beaver activities," said Lesley Fox with The Fur-Bearers, a BC-based animal protection group, "That includes exclusion fencing, wrapping trees, (and) pond levellers (which funnel river water directly through beaver habitats). There's a whole host of different methods that can be employed to manage beaver activity.

"It really isn't a beaver problem. It's a human problem. It's our intolerance, and perception of these animals. Simply killing or relocating, it doesn't work."

Brett Baker agrees and says the city should find a way to accommodate the beavers - not the other way around.

"They're gorgeous animals, they're on our nickels. I don't know what more I can tell you — they're great!"

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