As an Association, we agree with the following principals concerning Animal Damage Control (ADC) programs:
That Counties, Special Areas, and Municipalities have a right and an obligation on behalf of the public to protect infrastructure from damage caused by all animals, including furbearers.
That all animals must be treated with respect and captured or removed humanely.
That Animal Damage Control, properly administered, will diminish the impact of external damage caused by animals, as well as ease the prevalence of disease or starvation caused by overcrowding of populations.
That landowners have rights through regulations to respond immediately in order to protect their property.
To support the foregoing Principles, we as an Association believe the following:
Beaver, normally, should not be taken during the summer months. The fur is of no value and the chance of removing a female and thereby orphaning the young is possible.
The removal of beaver dams during late fall should only be undertaken after the resident beaver have first been removed. To do otherwise, creates a risk of starvation for the animals and impacts on their ability to provide a suitable habitat over winter.
Proactive programs for prevention should be instituted by agencies charged with animal control. Areas susceptible to damage must be patrolled and monitored. When the potential for conflict arises, then a plan to remove or reduce the problem animals must be implemented. In this way, the impact on both the infrastructure and the animal populations is minimal.
Beaver are valued and respected furbearers. To vilify these animals and treat them as vermin is not responsible stewardship. Whenever possible, live trapping should be used for relocation where suitable habitat exists. We recommend closer relations with the ADC agency and Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development personnel to determine areas where relocation is possible. Budgets would have to be increased for animal control to accommodate this practice.
Should relocation not be viable, then live traps for beaver should not be used unless required for public safety. Managers must be forthright and advise critics that beaver are not endangered, that they are prolific, cause damage, and must be controlled. Furthermore, the public should be advised why live trapping is not feasible and why a kill-type trap or shooting is required.
Where beaver damage can cause problems, we recommend the use of culvert blocking, perforations, or tree protection in addition to managing beaver populations.
The use of poison for coyote (Sodium Fluoroacetate – 1080) is widespread. The chemical causes death quite some time after ingestion and is characterized by cardiac and respiratory failure accompanied by convulsions. There is some concern regarding secondary poisonings and persistence in the environment. In addition, the valuable fur of the animal is seldom recovered. While there may be occasions when this method of control must be used, we believe that 1080 must be a method of last resort. Traps, snares and shooting are strategies to be employed by managers when direct action is required. Preventative actions include guard animals, fencing, calf management, carrion removal and motion sensors.
We believe that before producers are allowed to use trapping devices, formal training in the proper use of traps and snares is required. Additionally, ADC personnel must have similar training. Training reduces the possibility of inhumane catches, the catching of non-target species, public liability, and adds to the professionalism of the capture program.
Improper trapping of animals and negligence in trappers can have a negative impact on the profession of trapping.
Where traplines exist, the RFMA holder must be informed of the problem and be encouraged to remove the source of the problem (financial assistance may be necessary). If unable to, the ADC agency can respond as they see fit. Records of all animals taken in protection of properties must be recorded.
That the ADC agency informs RFMA holders of chronic problems so that the trapper can focus his effort on these areas.
Whenever possible, agencies should assign a responsible trained person to oversee the management and implementation of their animal damage control program. All complaints should be investigated and personal attendance is recommended. The ADC personnel must work with the complainant to determine the cause of the damage and to come up with workable solutions. We believe this approach is sustainable, responsible, and makes the complainant a stakeholder in the solution.
While the preceding positions relate to coyote and beaver control, the same guiding principles can be applied to other animals. Our Association feels that whatever means is used to remove an animal, that the removal must be accomplished in the most humane method practical.
Reviewed 2022 Director’s Meeting Alberta Trappers’ Association