The Town of Newmarket is managing a massive beaver dam near Woodland Hills Labyrinth Park but is avoiding any action to move beavers.
Beavers have been hard at work constructing a large structure in the area, plus other dams throughout town. The municipality said it is aware of the situation but is using a beaver management program focused on monitoring, protecting trees and removing dams versus trying to remove the beavers directly.
Newmarket biologist Aileen Barclay said policies based around wrapping trees are better than trapping alternatives.
“Trapping and relocation is cruel,” she said. “They are here and we have to deal with them, not just kill or remove them constantly.”
Newmarket has stuck with non-removal beaver management for a couple of years. Aurora floated trapping in 2021, but discontinued that in response to public outcry.
As for the large dam near Woodland Hills Labyrinth Park, Newmarket community services commissioner Jeff Payne said staff are aware and are monitoring. The area is a popular spot for beavers, with town staff removing seven dams there since spring 2023, Payne said.
“The town undertakes frequent inspection of various areas throughout town as part of the beaver management program,” Payne said.
That program includes wire mesh on trees in areas of beaver activity, removing trees partially cut by beavers and removing dams manually or with a mini excavator.
The town also is working to update stormwater management ponds to reduce possible flooding caused by damming, Payne said.
The provincial government also regulates beavers, stating that live beavers can only be moved a maximum of one kilometre.
“This distance is not enough to prevent the animal from returning to its home in a short period of time,” Payne said.
Barclay said beavers dam floodplains and that issue is one reason why governments should disallow development within floodplains.
Relocating beavers would not work with other beavers potentially just moving in, Barclay said.
“Ideally, you make the habitat undesirable,” she said.