New provincial transportation agency Metrolinx is not quite a fan of beavers, or of keeping them around.
The agency plans to thin the “nest boxes” where beavers build dens, dug with their back paws.
In an interview with CBC News, Metrolinx chair Jay Pennoyer noted “beavers are just a loveable creature and we respect that.”
Calling them “a nuisance,” Metrolinx claims the beavers have damaged the cross-country rail line, and that Metrolinx will not re-up a contract with the company hired to weed out the beavers. “It’s definitely a public safety issue,” Mr. Pennoyer said.
Metrolinx, which has not filed an official complaint with Ontario’s Ministry of Natural Resources, said the beavers were potentially destroying aging, non-stressed infrastructure. Metrolinx said the danger posed to train tracks posed an urgent threat, and added that the beavers have not caused any fatal incidents.
But that’s unlikely to quell the anger of beaver lovers, who’ve linked beaver-related tragedies and accidents with increased visibility of beaver population.
In 1994, a woman was killed when the tail from a passing vehicle flew into her face while riding in a horse-drawn carriage. In 2009, a horse had to be euthanized after it was stuck in a culvert dug by beavers, also in a local incident of pipeline damage.
And in December 2015, the driver of a train that flipped over near Hanover, a town near Brockville, was driven to the hospital for suffering a fractured jaw and chipped teeth after a train horn stopped his vehicle.
A poll by Angus Reid Institute in April 2015 found that two-thirds of Canadians see beavers as a problem, and more than 30 per cent say beavers should be killed. More than 80 per cent of Canadians like the trees that beavers eat.