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Living with beavers - a quick guide

Joanna Harter 307-332-2688

November 19, 2020

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Lander - This fall, Aquatic Habitat Biologist Joanna Harter live-trapped and relocated a nuisance beaver.  Although Game and Fish is sometimes able to relocate these long-toothed, habitat builders, this should be considered a last resort. Instead, with a little understanding of what beavers do and why they do it, many landowners may find the benefits of keeping beaver outweigh the inconveniences. 

In the fall, beaver dam-building activity increases as they prepare for winter. Beavers build dams on streams to create ponds that give them protection from predators. Beaver ponds provide important wetland habitat for birds, deer, moose, amphibians, fish, and many other wildlife species. They create habitat diversity for trout, such as overwintering pools. 

Additionally, the ponds recharge groundwater, filter sediment and excess nutrients from the water, and irrigate streamside vegetation. They also improve the resilience of landscapes to wildfires - segments of streams that have beaver-created wetlands are less likely to burn and provide crucial habitat for wildlife following wildfire.

There are many solutions that can mitigate landowner concerns while also allowing beavers to provide their beneficial ecological services. Below are some common concerns about beavers and recommended options for landowners: Live trapping is difficult, time-consuming, and often proves ineffective as a long-term solution for beaver-related issues. If they establish in a location once, that means it’s good beaver habitat and even if you remove one beaver, more will find that good habitat in the future. When possible, it is best to find ways to live with beaver, while mitigating potential conflicts, as outlined above.

Please contact your local Game and Fish if you are interested in more detailed information regarding solutions to mitigate beaver nuisance issues.   

- WGFD -