The beaver became the official emblem of Canada on March 24, 1975. Although these gentle creatures represents our country, beavers are continuously killed for their fur, and because they are considered a nuisance.
As far back as the 1600s, beavers were hunted for their pelts, and played a large part in the development of the Hudson Bay company. Prior to the fur trade, there were approximately six million beavers in Canada. By the late nineteenth century, trapping resulted in the beaver being close to extinction.
The Canadian Wildlife Service, which is part of Environment Canada, said that “[a}after the turn of this century, the trade in beaver declined, partly with the decline of the beaver hat as fashionable headwear, and partly because the beavers themselves were becoming scarce all over North America. Many large regions were completely without beaver during most of the first half of this century. The beaver conservation movement began in the late 1930s with the writings and lectures of Grey Owl. A native of England who posed as a Métis, Grey Owl created passionate stories of the plight of the Canadian forests and wildlife, and particularly the beaver. Governments responded by closing the trapping seasons on beaver for many years.”
At the present time, more than 135,000 beavers are killed specifically for their fur each year. At this rate, beavers will soon be on the endangered species list.
Beavers are also being killed because they are considered a nuisance in waterways. A couple of years ago on Canada Day weekend, a family of beavers went missing from a Stittsville pond just outside Ottawa. Mayor of Ottawa, Jim Watson said that he was going to have a mother beaver and her yearling - named Lily and Lucky by concerned local residents - removed and released to a safe location. However, he never presented accurate evidence that this was done according to his promise. It is highly likely that the City of Ottawa took the easy way out and killed the mother and her children, rather than relocate them. Unfortunately, this unnecessary treatment happens to many beavers across Canada.
Because of urban development, the homes of beavers, and many other wildlife have been infringed upon and threatened. Through no fault of their own, they are being killed, so that humans can continue to destroy the natural habitat of animals in order to satisfy their own purposes.
Is this any way to treat our wildlife, let alone our national symbol? If anyone is wondering what they can do this holiday weekend, maybe you can start with helping to save some of our wildlife.
Anyone living in Ottawa, please write, or call Mayor Jim Watson and ask him to make killing beavers illegal in this city. As for people living in other cities, or provinces, contact your local mayor, and tell them that beavers are Canada’s national emblem, and should be respected, and free to live a happy life just like all the rest of Canada’s inhabitants.
Beavers are monogamous animals that are protective of their families. Canada is supposed to stand for a country whose people defend and look after each other. So why are the very creatures that represent this country being destroyed? It is time to start making this country a better place for everyone. Where better to start than with the creatures that represent it, and are Canada's national symbol?
Contact information for the Mayor of Ottawa, Jim Watson.
110 Laurier avenue west
Ottawa Ontario K1P 1J1
Tel.: (613) 580-2496
Fax.: (613) 580-2509