Controlling beavers | Living the Country Life

Controlling beavers

Dams and gnawing teeth can cause a lot of damage.
Photo courtesy of Mississippi State University

I heard about a guy in Minnesota who planted a grove of new trees on his acreage. He went out on his porch one morning to drink his coffee and found all the trees had been cut down by beavers overnight.

Not only can beavers level a row of trees, their dams can raise the water level of your pond or stream. This might cause flooding that is serious enough to drown pastures and infiltrate septic systems.

Wildlife Specialist Jim Parkhurst at Virginia Tech University says trapping a beaver is usually what a landowner thinks of first. But it won't be easy - a beaver can weigh 50-or-60-pounds.
"This is a large animal, so this is not a small trap," says Parkhurst. "They do take some expertise to place them, and properly set them, so it's not the kind of thing that the average homeowner is going to have the skills or the equipment to do."

Beavers don't always cause damage, so Parkhurst recommends co-existing with them, if possible.
Beavers build dams so the water level is high enough to cover the opening of their lodge. This protects them from predators. As soon as the water level starts to drop or the dam is disturbed, beavers send patrols out to fix it. In fact, you could haul the whole dam away, and those busy beavers would have their new digs re-built in 24-hours.

Strike a compromise by breaking down the dam just enough to install flow regulating pipes.

"If they are properly installed, it will allow you to drop that water level just enough to keep your assets protected, but not expose the lodge opening, and the beavers become comfortable with that."

You and the beavers may agree on the perfect water level, but that doesn’t stop them from feeding on your vegetation. If you have high-value trees, wrap them with heavy wire mesh about three-feet tall.

Learn more:

Identify the animal, recognize habitat, and find more control measures for beaver

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