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Park officials and RCMP in central Alberta are concerned someone may have taken matters into their own hands by shooting and killing a beaver following reports last week that one of the rodents in the area had killed a dog.

Red Deer parks superintendent Trevor Poth said a dead beaver was discovered by a canoeist paddling in the Three Mile Bend recreation area this week, the same area where a beaver had been attacking dogs.

"The beaver had clearly been shot while in the park so we're just shocked and dismayed that someone would discharge a firearm within the city limits. Certainly within a park they're endangering park users and wildlife in the area," Mr. Poth said.

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A beaver had killed a husky at an off-leash park in the area earlier this month. That beaver might have been attempting to protect its young.

The city's parks department initially said it would fatally trap the beavers in the area, but later abandoned the plan when local landowners stepped forward and offered to have them transferred to their property.

Mr. Poth said there's no way to know whether the beaver that was shot and killed was the same one that killed the dog.

"Beavers do live in a colony and are very territorial, so the proximity of where the beaver was found to the active lodge and to the site of the other incidents with animals leads us to believe that it was a member of the same colony," Mr. Poth noted.

RCMP are calling the shooting a serious breach of public safety, as discharging firearms within city limits is prohibited.

"It is very concerning that somebody potentially took this matter into their own hands and went after this beaver when there was much more humane ways the city was planning on dealing with it," Corporal Kathe Deheer said.

The dead beaver has been turned over to Alberta Fish and Wildlife. RCMP are continuing to investigate.

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Mr. Poth said the transfer of the beaver colony is being put on hold until the RCMP investigation is complete.

He said he's also renewing a plea to all dog owners to carry a leash with them at all times, and to be sure that their dogs can be recalled if necessary.

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