City officials in Framingham, Massachusetts, are under fire from animal lovers after killing beavers they say were causing a public safety hazard.
The beavers’ crime? Building dams, which had combined with excessive rainfall to create hazardous flooding conditions.
“The City of Framingham regrets that it was placed into a set of circumstances that resulted in the demise of the beavers,” the city said in a statement posted on Facebook.
The statement elaborated on the flood conditions that had occurred over the past few weeks, noting that officials had been scrambling to keep a 100-year-old bridge from washing out and taking gas, water and sewer lines with it.
Additionally, rising water had started making local roadways dangerous to traverse, Framingham spokeswoman Kelly McFalls told HuffPost in an email.
“Because of the excessive rain and dams, water rose more than four feet above its normal elevation and was washing over the roadway and beginning to undermine the retaining walls,” she said. “This flooding created dangerous driving conditions for anyone traveling that route, specifically the 15 school buses that traverse that route twice daily. At this same time, residents’ yards and basements also were becoming flooded.“
The city characterized itself as having no choice but to trap and remove the beavers, saying that efforts to pump water out of flooded areas had become too costly and that conditions were too severe to use a deterrent device known as a “Beaver Deceiver.”
Since trappers are prohibited by Massachusetts law from relocating beavers, trapped animals are “most often euthanized,” according to the statement.
The city’s explanation, however, did not satisfy critics who accused officials of needlessly killing the animals. The statement garnered a slew of negative comments on social media, and local Conservation Commission administrator Robert McArthur told Boston.com earlier this week that he had received numerous calls and emails from residents who didn’t want to see the beavers dead.
The plan also received sharp criticism from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, both of which had urged officials to not go through with the cull.
The MSPCA had slammed the plan as cruel and potentially ineffective, telling Boston.com that “destroying beavers just creates vacant territory for new beavers to move in.”
McFalls told HuffPost that she did not have any information about how many beavers were actually killed.