Beavers are both fascinating animals to watch and an important keystone species. Yet old attitudes die hard and some people may consider the mere presence of a beaver to be a problem. They may not be aware that these peaceful animals make good neighbors, and removing beavers often creates more problems than coexistance.
Removing beavers tends to be a short-term fix as others will normally migrate into the empty habitat. Beaver kits need to stay with their parents for two years, and any removal of adults risks leaving dependent youngsters behind. Orphaned beaver babies have been known to swim up to humans for help, and, if then taken to a wildlife rehabilitator, that person must devote considerable time, energy and expense raising them over two years.
When beavers are taken away, their dams will disintegrate without constant repairs and the pond will be drained. Some pond residents, such as herons, will be able to migrate, but many fish and other creatures will die. Neighbors of such destroyed ponds are often dismayed by loss of life and muddy mess left behind.
Despite an appreciation for beavers and our best intentions to live with them, beavers can become a problem if their eating habits, and dam or den building activity, flood or damage property.
Before beginning any beaver control action, assess the beaver problem fairly and objectively. Are beaver really causing damage or creating hardship requiring control action? The very presence of beavers is often seen as a problem when, in fact, the beavers are causing no harm. You should also determine the type of damage or problem the animals are causing, and then match the most appropriate and cost-effective controls to the situation.
Once you have decided to control beaver damage, you have three control options: prevention, beaver translocation, or lethal control.
Frequently Asked Questions?
Amendment 14 of the Colorado Constitution passed by the voters of Colorado in 1996 bans the use of leg hold and kill traps throughout the state. While the intent of the amendment was to stop lethal trapping, it also prevents the control of animals causing damage. There is an agricultural exemption which allows farmers and ranchers to trap beavers causing damage to their crops and property one 30-day period a year.But the vast majority of problems involve beavers damming up water ways and culverts or cutting down ornamental trees.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife suggests:
Wrap individual ornamental and fruit trees with fencing;
Use electric fencing around culverts;
Lessening the problems caused by their dams by using special pipes and grates.
Another option is to mix a concoction of five ounces of mason sand with one quart of exterior latex paint and apply it to the first 3 ½ feet of the trees.
Install a water level-control device which will allow the beaver to stay on location while water continues to flow downstream.
The only lethal option is to live-trap and then shoot them. Licensed trappers will live-trap beavers for a fee. They often have arrangements with private landowners or public land agencies to release live-trapped beavers.
It is illegal for private individuals to release live-caught beavers on public land.
- Colorado Parks & Wildlife on Beaver Problems
- Beavers: Wetlands & Wildlife (BWW) is a tax-exempt educational nonprofit based in Dolgeville, NY with members in the U.S., Canada and overseas. Their website has several environmentally sound, cost-effective, long-term solutions for problems that arise between humans and beavers.
- King County, Washington website has a discussion of beavers and suggestions on coping with the problems they present residents.