Metrolinx is ‘warring’ against majestic Ontario beavers

Metrolinx is under scrutiny for its invasive and unethical approach to dealing with beavers in the City of Toronto. The video below depicts a man busily draining a Beavers Pond on Thursday, much to the horror of the crowd gathered around to watch. The company, which has recently been getting heat for abandoning or destroying 686 road traffic signals along highways in Ontario, is the driving force behind a project which creates a road through this beautiful semi-precious wildlife habitat. It then decided to catch the beavers as a part of a demonstration against their illegal habitat removal.

“Metrolinx is battling a popular beaver species — it has been known since antiquity as a beloved national symbol of Canada,” Jennifer Stamp, the executive director of Environment and Climate Change Canada, said in an interview. “I’ve no doubt there are viable management options to remove the beavers from the pond, but Metrolinx has opted for an indiscriminate removal which has been deemed illegal by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources.”

Local leaders called Metrolinx’s decision “callous and arrogant,” and a non-profit group named Friends of the Beavers in Toronto is promoting the “Beaver Resistance Movement” in hopes of urging Metrolinx to reconsider the project.

The Victoria Docks were built in 1857 to transport the goods shipped by the Canadian Pacific Railway. While still on the CPR’s property, the ponds soon became a protected and growing habitat for the beavers, a remarkable discovery given that the beavers do not swim like other mammals. It is believed that the Canada geese, which fly at 25 kilometers per hour, and the bald eagles on nearby tree tops have been attracted to the spot as well, making the streams and lakes important spawning grounds for the endangered shore birds and otters.

Norman Needleman, Metrolinx’s chief spokesperson, admitted that it’s too late to stop the project and that everyone in Metrolinx recognizes the impact the beavers have on the local ecosystem. Still, he emphasized Metrolinx’s responsibility for preventing the destruction of endangered species, which may have also been an influence in Metrolinx’s decision to remove the beavers, despite being protected by law. “At this point, there’s no real opportunity to do anything but continue the removal,” he said. “With just what happens on the ground in terms of erosion in that pond it’s impossible to maintain. Metrolinx has had a number of meetings and is making every effort to mitigate the risks.”

“Metrolinx is a business entity and you have to hold them to what’s commercial in nature. They are trying to move forward with what’s in their best interests.”

Metrolinx has also announced that it will be partnering with conservation groups to try to find a solution to the increasing danger that the wetlands pose to public safety.

“The road was not just built there, it’s in the habitat of endangered wildlife,” said Dr. Alison Maclean, director of science at the Canadian Wildlife Service. “They can be in the way of emergency vehicles and beekeepers. There are already critical public safety risks there.”

(Photo credits: Metrolinx via Twitter)

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