Your Wildlife Habitat
Living With Beavers
Of all mammals, beavers leave some of the most conspicuous signs of their presence. It can be quite a challenge for a rural landowner to live in peaceful co-existence with them. Beavers play a key role in nature because their habits create favourable wetland environments for many other species to enjoy, but their creative engineering often conflicts with human land uses. To build their lodges they will industriously burrow into the soft banks of your shoreline and they can do quite a lot of damage to boat docks by building their lodges underneath them. Their damming activity can result in undesirable flooding and they’ll build those dams with the precious trees you have been carefully cultivating. It only takes a few hours for a beaver to fell a tree and a pair of beavers makes a skilled construction team, taking only a few days to build a dam. If you try to destroy it, they can quickly repair any breaches.
There are some steps you can take to limit beaver caused flood damage to your property and to protect your trees. With some basic engineering projects of your own, you can deceive the beavers, maintain appropriate water levels and learn how to live with them for a while. Once they have exhausted their food source, they will move on.
Options for Controlling Beaver on Private Land, an extension note published by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, explains why beavers build dams to make ponds. This information sheet explains how a “beaver baffler” can be an excellent long-term solution to beaver occupancy. The beaver baffler, also known as the Clemson Pond Leveler, was developed by Clemson University in South Carolina. It is an inexpensive piping system which allows water to flow through a dam. Beaver baffler building plans are available here. It works best to have inflow and outflow pipes of approximately 50 feet (rather than 20′ as shown) so that the beavers won’t associate the current with the dam.
Living With Beavers is a fact sheet published by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry that explains how to prevent conflicts with beavers and how to deal with conflicts when they arise.
Guidelines for beaver dam removal can be obtained from the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans and Environment Canada. They provide guidelines and best management practices for removing a dam and measures to protect fish and their habitat.
Wildlife Hotline provides an illustrated guide to controlling beaver problems. On this website, you will find a step-by-step Guide for installing a flex pipe system and a method for protecting vulnerable trees.
Beavers, Wetlands and Wildlife is a site dedicated to helping people live in harmony with beavers. The site provides information about a number of different control devices and a list of methods for protecting trees.
Trapping: If your beaver damage is extensive and the losses are intolerable, trapping might prove to be the only solution. The Ontario Fur Managers Federation website provides extensive information about beaver behaviour and explains the best approach to trapping. Licensed trappers must abide by strict regulations in respect to safe and humane trapping. An overview of trapping and licensing regulations in Ontario is available on the MNRF website. To find a licensed trapper, contact your local trappers’ council, the Ontario Fur Managers Federation or your local MNRF office.