MINNEAPOLIS— The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board last night unanimously passed a resolution directing staff to prioritize nonlethal methods to mitigate conflicts with wildlife. The vote addresses concerns voiced by dozens of Minneapolis residents who objected to the city’s decision last month to contract with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services program to kill beavers, coyotes and other wildlife within the city’s parklands.
“It’s a big relief that the park board listened to residents’ concerns about risks to people, pets and wildlife from cruel and indiscriminate traps,” said Collette Adkins, carnivore conservation director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “These brutal devices don’t belong in city parks, and I’m hopeful the board will use effective, nonlethal methods to prevent conflicts with wildlife.”
In April the park board approved its first contract with Wildlife Services to kill beavers, coyotes and other wildlife living in Minneapolis parks. Among other things that $50,000 contract authorized the federal wildlife-killing program to kill beavers using “trapping or shooting” and to provide “direct control” of “damaging coyotes or other wildlife species.”
The board’s decision to contract with Wildlife Services met with tremendous opposition from Minneapolis residents, who called and emailed to express concerns about use of leghold traps, strangulation snares and other lethal methods. The park board received nearly 200 letters from Minneapolis residents asking for use of nonlethal alternatives to mitigate conflicts with wildlife.
The new resolution, adopted last night by a 9-0 vote, directs staff to work with Wildlife Services to amend the contract to prohibit lethal wildlife control until feasible nonlethal mitigation measures have been exhausted.
“So many citizens, volunteers and visitors appreciate and derive deep satisfaction from the wild animals and natural spaces in the Minneapolis park system,” said Matt Johnson of Fur Free Minneapolis. “This resolution to amend the contract with Wildlife Services helps to ensure we’re doing a good job at coexisting humanely with other species while keeping our parks safe and welcoming places.”
“Humanely and effectively managing conflicts between people and wildlife is attainable and an important ethic,” said Christine Coughlin, Minnesota state director for the Humane Society of the United States. “Our Minneapolis members and supporters are grateful to the Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board for this important vote to prioritize nonlethal wildlife management and to Commissioner Londel French for his leadership on this issue.”
Many effective nonlethal methods exist to address conflicts with wildlife. For example, wrapping the bases of ornamental tree trunks with inexpensive metal guards protects them from damage by beavers.
Advocates from a coalition of wildlife and humane organizations have been asking commissioners for a more humane and ecologically friendly approach to dealing with wildlife conflicts in Minneapolis parks. The coalition includes the Center for Biological Diversity, Fur Free Minneapolis and the Humane Society of the United States.
Images of beavers, including those caught in traps, are available here for media use.