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Wildlife Damage Management

Beaver (Castor canadensis)

Beaver carrying construction material Beavers are the largest rodents in Alabama, often reaching a length of 46” from nose to tail tip and an adult weight of 80 pounds. They are plentiful, and found in all 67 counties throughout the state. After reaching all-time population lows in the 1930’s, they have rebounded to become somewhat of a nuisance species for many landowners.

Beavers provide some benefits for landowners, but they can wreak real economic havoc as well. Some landowners have found a peaceful coexistence with beaver because their ponds create attractive refuges for wood ducks, deer, and other species. Beaver dams can help to reduce erosion, conserve valuable nutrients in the soil, and provide a reservoir that can be used for irrigation. However, sometimes, the dams create flooding that destroys crops. The burrows that they dig below the surface around a pond can create a pit trap that endangers livestock coming to the pond for a drink. Beavers subsist on plants, twigs, and bark, so their grazing can become a problem too if they exist in large numbers in one small area. A tree that has been girdled completely from ground level to 30” height may lose substantial market value.

Beavers are amazingly proficient engineers and instinctively chose narrow, slower moving streams to erect their dams. They harvest limbs and bushes for construction material and waterproof the structure with mud. An average colony usually consists of five or six beavers and they build a dam of impressive size seemingly overnight. A landowner wishing to evict a colony may take great pains to destroy a dam only to find it reconstituted the very next day. The only way to prevent a dam from being rebuilt is to remove any materials that can be used for construction. This is often impractical, especially if you are managing your land for agriculture or timber production.

To date, there is no simple means by which to discourage or repel beaver from a given stream. If their existence on your property has become a real economic problem, the only solution is to remove them by trapping them in the most humane way possible. The conibear traps used for beavers can be dangerous for an inexperienced trapper. Watch the video on this page and if you need help, contact a professional trapper.

You may be able to construct a fence to exclude beaver from small areas, such as a culvert or drain pipe. Some people have found that if you can eliminate the sound of rushing or falling water, the beaver may not feel driven to construct a dam. Take a look at the links on this page for a few ideas.