Nanaimo wants to ban ‘barbaric’ traps

NANAIMO – City will no longer use trapping to manage nuisance beavers. It is also seeking a city-wide ban on body-gripping traps.

The City of Nanaimo is counting on the provincial government to give teeth to its potential ban on “barbaric” animal traps.

Nanaimo city council opted to create a municipal bylaw against the use of body-gripping traps, which politicians called a cruel practice.

Councillors also agreed the municipality will no longer use traps to manage nuisance beavers.

According to the City of Nanaimo, debate about trapping regulation and public safety was triggered earlier this month when hikers stumbled upon six devices on private property in Linley Valley. The traps were sanctioned to deal with a problem beaver.

Coun. Fred Pattje, who put forward the motion to ban traps, said there are other, non-lethal ways of dealing with beavers, including water flow management devices. The city can and should try to prohibit body-gripping traps, which are “too cruel a way” to deal with the animals.

Coun. George Anderson felt the bid to ban was a knee-jerk reaction to public concern and wanted to wait until the city collected more information on the environmental and financial implications of the more humane management methods. City staff members have promised a report in a year on the effect of internal changes for beaver management.

But the remaining eight councillors say it’s important to get started on a bylaw now.

The provincial government would need to approve the bylaw and it is currently reviewing existing trapping regulations. While the city’s ban is unenforceable now, it will be joining other similar proposals put forward by Vernon, Surrey and Sechelt.

“The more cities who ask the minister for this authority, the more likely I think we are to get it. I think it’s timely,” said Coun. Diane Brennan. “This is virtually a lobbying effort.”

The City of Nanaimo currently doesn’t regulate or approve trapping and isn’t given notice of traps set on private property like Linley Valley. The provincial government regulates trapping activity under the Wildlife Act.

There are 23 dams in the community that are monitored by the City of Nanaimo and beaver-related issues are estimated to cost the majority of a $60,000 annual budget for management of watercourses.

City staff members say they did not routinely trap beavers, pointing out the last time was three years ago. Now, as a result of council’s decision, they will no longer use trapping methods at all.