As muskrats, beavers are a nuisance due to the damage they can create around them. By using their teeth to chop down trees, they can also change the topography by diverting water and damming streams when building their lodges. Beavers need a year round water source, so they will be found by streams, lakes, ponds, wetlands, and low-lying water areas like lowlands or swamps. In urban areas they are becoming more common in road-side ditches, drainage ditches, and sewage ponds. Signs of beaver presence are obvious, as they tend to cut down trees by chewing through their trunks at a 45-degree angle. Wood chips and stumps should also be visible in the area.
Beavers are smart creatures and are capable of transforming any fresh water environment into a proper habitat for themselves. As they are highly adaptable and persistent creatures, controlling them can prove to be quite difficult at times. They can become very destructive to some environments, making proper beaver management a necessity.
Preventive measures against beavers
In order to exclude beavers from your surrounding area, you will need to make the habitat less suitable for them. dismantle the dams and lodges that have been previously built, as by breaking down these key structures, it will be difficult for any new beavers to return. As they are persistent creatures, it may be necessary to repeat this step until the beavers relocate permanently, as they are known to rebuild dams and lodges overnight. Also follow the below instructions and apply these preventive methods to keep beavers at bay:
- apply the mesh to be at least 3 ft tall and wide enough to allow healthy tree growth;
- install a fence to exclude beavers entirely from forests, groves and other areas with high vegetation (either mesh or electric fence);
- keep the bottom of the fence flush to the ground to prevent beavers from entering underneath;
- install drainage systems that disallow beaver dams from properly controlling water levels;
- plant trees and vegetation that beavers don’t like, such as elderberry, ninebark and twinberry;
- paint tree trunks with a sand and paint mix (120 millilitres of masonry-grade sand per litre of latex paint) to protect trees from beaver damage;
- vegetable or mineral oil infused with cayenne pepper and then painted on the tree trunks can also be effective.
Various road construction techniques can also minimize or prevent beaver damage. These techniques primarily involve choosing an appropriate size or type of culvert. Beavers identify areas suitable for dam construction by the sound of increased water flow, so oversized round culverts, bottomless arch culverts and bridges that do not restrict the flow of water can all reduce the likelihood that a beaver will build a dam. The primarily damage caused by beavers is to landscaping and the causing of floods. A dam made by beavers on your property may not bother you personally, but you can be held liable should the dam wash out and flood your neighbor downstream. The damage caused to landscaping or the one caused by flooding can range from a minor one, to one worth millions of dollars.
Beavers maintain and defend territories, which are areas for feeding, nesting and mating. They invest much energy in their territories, building their dams and becoming familiar with the area. Because they invest so much energy in their territories, beavers are intolerant of intruders and the holder of the territory is more likely to escalate an aggressive encounter, so be careful when dealing with a beaver dam or lodge, as you should first make sure they are abandoned.
Regarding health issues, beavers are best known as carriers of Giargia lamblia, an intestinal parasite, sometimes referred to as “beaver fever,” but they can also carry nematodes, trematodes and coccidians. They are also furbearing animals and protected by a number of federal and state laws. In addition, beavers easily become trap-shy and modify their behavior to evade threats, by changing from a diurnal to nocturnal habit, for example.
Their involvement in the change of topography can also be seen as a positive involvement by some. The dead trees that remain can also be of use to other animals such as swallows, wood ducks, blue herons, eagles, osprey, woodpeckers, turtles. These and many others rely on the dead trees for food, shelter and places to perch. Even though the death of some trees may look destructive and unattractive to us, it proves to be necessary and an extremely important habitat to many other species in the ecosystem. The loss of these trees also allows significant more sunlight to reach the water. The sunlight, water, and suspended nutrients in the pond water combine to stimulate the immense growth of algae, microorganisms, invertebrates and aquatic plants that then become the foundation of the wetland food chain.
Tree protection also modifies the habitat by decreasing the beaver food supply. The more trees that are protected the sooner the beavers will exhaust their food supply and need to relocate. So when dealing with these rodents, it is important to asses all the implications that appear should you want to apply the preventive measures mentioned above.
However, should you at any time deal with a beaver infestation, take into consideration the actions presented in out article about “How to get rid of a beaver infestation”, as such an action can prove to be quite difficult, due to the persistence of these pests. And even after managing to eliminate them from your territory, always apply preventive measures, as it is better to be safe, than having to deal with them once again.