R.M. of Loon Lake considers beaver control

by Phil Ambroziak

It may be regarded as Canada’s national animal, but in parts of rural Saskatchewan the beaver is often looked upon as a pest.

Because of this, federal agriculture minister Gerry Ritz and Saskatchewan agriculture minister Bob Bjornerud recently announced $1.8 million in funding to help producers and rural municipalities (RMs) control beavers, as well as rats, wild boars and gophers.

“These pests can be a significant economic liability for our hardworking farmers and can cause damage to farmland,” Ritz said recently. “This funding will ensure the continuation of successful programming to mitigate pest damage and help prevent financial losses for Saskatchewan farmers.”

In spite of this extra funding, RM of Loon Lake officials have yet to decide whether or not their community will take part in the program, something they neglected to do when it was introduced last year.

“Last year, we did not participate because of the way the program was set up,” explained RM of Loon Lake administrator Laurie Lehoux. “We would have been required to appoint certain members of the RM to hunt the beavers while others would not be allowed to. How could we really pick and choose?”

Lehoux went on to express her hope the government will set up a different process this year or allow the RM to establish its own process.

“It’s sort of like having a bounty on beavers, but it’s not something that’s wide open,” she continued. “Other RMs took part in the program last year, but we didn’t want there to be any concerns about certain people being selected because they may be friends with a certain other person.”

Although reinforcing the reasoning as to why the RM did not participate in the program last year and why it still may not this year, Lehoux did admit there is a need for beaver control in the area.

“There is a lot of beavers in the RM and they do cause a lot of problems,” she said. “Last year, one of our maintenance men was continually unplugging culverts either by hand or with a back hoe. We have so much forest area in our RM that we have a beaver problem almost every year. The animals move around so much, it’s difficult to eradicate them.”

This is a big reason why Lehoux would like to see the government ensure its beaver control program is designed to be equitable for all ratepayers.

She expects to learn more as spring rolls on, noting the RM will likely know if it’s participating or not by early May.

“I also think educating landowners could help with this issue,” Lehoux stated. “This is not just a problem of ours, but also of the landowners. Quite often, however, the RM is stuck with the bill because something needs to be done. If not, it could start impacting our roadways – everything.”

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