How to deter beavers?

Ideas and advice for all cottage owners, renters and guests. – Ideas and advice for all cottage owners, renters and guests.

Here are some great tips on how to prevent beavers from harvesting the trees on your cottage property.

Ways to stop a beaver from cutting down the cottage trees

The beaver is the iconic image of the great Canadian wilderness and almost every cottage community has a resident beaver lodge. While we enjoy watching beavers as they swim across the lake or diligently work on their homes, the critters can cause some grief when they decide to harvest trees from the cottage property.

Beaver populations are carefully controlled in many states and provinces. In fact, the Ontario MNR requires trappers to fulfill at least 75 per cent of their beaver quotas. Keeping the beaver population in check reduces the risk of diseases, such as tularemia, from spreading across beaver colonies. It also helps prevent widespread flooding caused by beaver dams.

But what can a cottage owner do if the resident beaver has taken a liking to his precious trees?

Wire Fence Cylinders
The best thing to do is buy some heavy-gauge wire fencing with openings that are 2″ X 4″ (inches) or smaller.

Create a wire cylinder by wrapping the wire fence all the way around the trunk at a distance of at least eight inches out from the base of the tree. Do this for all the trees you want to protect. Cable ties or metal wire can be used to connect the end sections of the fence.

The height of the fence should go all the way up to the snow line, which could be more than five feet, depending on the location of your cabin. Normally, you don’t have to bury the bottom of the the wire cylinder.

Paint Mixed with Sand
For mature trees you can try mixing sand with outdoor latex paint and cover the trunks of the tree from the ground up to about five feet. The abrasive mixture will deter most beavers from taking down the tree. A mixture of about six ounces of sand per quart of paint should be adequate. For the metric crowd, that’s about 150 grams of sand per litre of paint.

Chicken wire is too weak and the beaver’s powerful teeth will go through it. It also tends rust and fall apart after a year or two.

Trees along the water are not the only ones at risk. A beaver will harvest trees as far as 150 feet (50 metres) inland, but this is rare because being that far from the water puts the beaver at an extreme risk of being killed by predators. Some of the animals that eat beavers are bears, wolves, lynx, foxes, otters, coyotes, cougars and eagles.

If you are planting small trees, the best way to protect them from beavers would be to put a wire fence around the entire area where the young trees are located.

What trees do beavers prefer?
Beavers use the trees for both food and as a source of building material for the lodge. They will eat the inner bark, leaves and twigs and then use the stripped branches or trunks to fortify their homes. Aspen, birch, alder, cottonwood, willow and red maple are favourites but beavers will also take down other deciduous trees and even the odd pines like the jack pine seen in the picture above.

Beavers will harvest a variety of tree sizes from the little saplings they can cut with a single bite to large mature trees with trunks greater than 24 inches in diameter.

Beavers will also eat aquatic plants, shrubs and even crops if they are located near a farm.

Trapping
When the beaver problem persists and the damage gets out of control the only way to stop the beavers is to get rid of them. Destroying the lodge is not effective. The beavers will simply rebuild it. Relocating the beavers is also not very helpful. It might move them away from your property but beavers are territorial and simply dumping them off someplace else is not a good idea.

It is always best to contact your local conservation authorities such as the DNR or MNR to get some advice on your legal options. The next step is to contact a licensed trapper who knows how to humanely catch and dispose of the beavers.

Go the How to Keep a Mink Out of The Boat page for advice on dealing with a problem mink.

Go to the Mice in the Cabin page for tips on how to keep mice out of the cottage.

Go to the Facts About Carpenter Ants page to learn about way to get rid of ants at the cabin.

How To Get Rid of Beavers Yourself

Beavers are best at building strong dams, but this also makes them nuisances because they can disrupt the water flow in an area, flood areas that are not meant to be flooded and will cause damage to existing dams. They also carry potentially dangerous diseases such as rabies and parasites that can cause blindness and liver failure that they can pass to you and your pets through water and bites. This is not a typical occurrence, but it does happen from time to time. These animals also fell trees for materials to build their dam and to for food which can make your property ugly and cost you money. If you have beaver problems, here are some do it yourself tips to help you get rid of them.

  • 1 – Use a live trap. Beavers are large, so only a couple of traps, like the clamshell trap, will work.
  • 2 – Set a lethal trap. Such as a large connibear style body grip trap. These are not for amateurs!
  • 3 – Install a drain pipe at the dam. This will make the dam fail, and discourage the beaver from using the area.

The best way to not have a problem with beavers is to prevent them from living in an area or making it hard. You can do this by putting wire mesh fences around the trees that they like to gnaw on or put in drainage systems that drain the water around their dam. They will not be able to stay in an area that is inhospitable to their living requirements. You must check if you are within your rights to do this before you just do it.
There are many repellents that claim to repel beavers, but most pest removal experts say that they don’t work as well as they say they do. Some of these repellents include predator urine scents like coyotes, fox or snake or there are scent aversion repellents like ammonia, mothballs, garlic, etc. These repellents will have to be reapplied constantly and are not guaranteed to work. This is definitely not a good option for someone who lives in an area that receives a lot of moisture or rain.
There are beaver traps available, but it is not recommended that you use them unless you know what you are doing. Beavers are very smart and are not easily trapped even with the specialty trap. These traps are designed specifically to safely trap the beavers and need to be set up and triggered in a special way so that the beaver doesn’t outsmart you and have you just wasting your money.
However, you must check with your local wildlife agencies to ensure that you are within your rights to get rid of the beavers in your area. In many places, beavers are endangered and you may not even be able to relocate them or get rid of them at all. Not only are they endangered, but they are integral parts of the ecosystem and do really good things for the environment whether they pester you or not. Most likely, you will have to employ the help of a wildlife removal professional to deal with the problem.
Go back to the main Beaver Removal page for more information about how to get rid of beavers.
How to Get Rid of Beavers in a Pond
The main concern with beavers is that they alter the landscape in such a way as to promote flooding and erosion. If you have a private pond on your property, a beaver lodge may not be something you want to see. Not only will beavers dam up streams and flood basins, they will eat a large number of aquatic life forms within the pond. For those property owners with stocked ponds, beavers can be a real nuisance. To get rid of beavers select the type of trapping method you wish to use. Beavers can be caught in cage traps and relocated, but the placement of cage traps can be an issue. Lethal, body gripping traps may be more practical and can be set along areas where the beaver frequents. The best lure for a beaver is the scent from another beaver. By using this oil you can trap beavers from a single colony in a short amount of time.
How to Get Rid of Beavers in a Stream
Beavers that block up a stream are creating a new ecosystem but they are also potentially flooding an undesirable area. Beavers do a lot of good in nature, but humans do not like the tree damage and landscape changes that ensue. To get rid of beavers in a stream you will need to have a basic idea of how many beavers you are dealing with. These animals can be solitary but often live in family groups. Set your traps, lethal or nonlethal, along known routes of travel. Beavers will have worn pathways in and out of the water. Use these frequently travelled areas to set the traps. The best lure for the beaver is the oils from a beaver of the same family. These large rodents identify one another by smell. Using beaver oil as bait is a sure way to attract more beavers. Once you have caught and removed all the beavers within the stream you can destroy the dam and revitalize the area.
How to Get Rid of Beavers in a Lake
Beavers in a lake are not a huge nuisance if the body of water is large enough to support them. Lakes often have innumerable fish and ample space but sometimes beavers can create issues if they dam up an area of water overflow. Getting rid of beavers on a lake can be difficult depending on where the lodge is located. If the water is shallow enough the lodge may be a good distance away from shore. The beavers will eventually return to dry land to harvest more trees and this is when cage trapping will be effective. For lodges out into the water a ways, lethal, body gripping traps are very effective. These traps can be set in the water. Beaver traps must be checked regularly to make sure no animals are caught and suffering. Some states require special licenses to trap beavers. Make sure you follow all laws and regulations regarding this furbearing species.

How to Get Rid of Beavers in a River
Beavers in a river pose a danger to motor boats. They can also flood areas close to homes and alter the natural flow of the water. The interesting thing about beavers on a river is that most rivers are owned by the state even if they pass through private property. As a homeowner you may not legally be able to get rid of beavers on a river. Beavers in a river will also be difficult to trap due to the fast currents and potential hazards out in the water. If the beaver lodge is located just off shore, live and lethal traps can be set along established beaver pathways. Once you have successfully captured a beaver in a lethal trap, you can use the oils from the beaver to lure in others. Scent identification is a big part of communicating within the beaver collective and the smell of one beaver will draw in others.
Even though beavers are beloved folk animals they can also be pests. Beavers are one of the most beloved creatures of North America as they have premiered in many children’s literature stories, cartoons and mythologies as well as supplied humans with the knowledge of how to build effective dams and have sacrificed their furs to clothe us. Beavers are the largest semi-aquatic rodent and can weigh more than 60 pounds and grow several feet long when they are full grown. They have water-resistant coats, large buck teeth and a large scaly tail that they use to build their dams and to swim. Beavers are also known for building superb dams that can stop the water flow create entirely new ecosystems. These dams will house several beavers in one that can only be accessed by underwater entranced.
What Kind of Damage Can Beavers Cause?
About Beaver: Appearance, Biology, Life Cycle, Habitat, Diet, Behavior
Humane Ways to Get Rid of Beavers

How To Get Rid of Beavers

How To Get Rid Of Beavers In A Pond, Lake, or River Of all the animals you can try to trap or remove you will find that beavers are some of the most challenging. They can get to places that are hard for a human to get to. They are also perfectly at home in water and although they are the biggest rodents, they can move through debris with ease. Unfortunately, they must be removed when they are close to homes because they can leave a trail of destruction if not taken care of in time. If you live close to a river or pond, they can cause a flood by creating their famous beaver dams. They can also damage surrounding vegetation and in some cases they have been known to knock down trees. Now imagine having a home close to a fallen tree and you will know why getting rid of beavers is important. Unfortunately, getting to the beavers when they’re in the water is extremely challenging. Most repellents that you find aren’t your wisest choice. You will do best to trap the beaver and remove it to an unpopulated area that would be a good habitat for them.

How To Get Rid Of Beavers In A Beaver Dam A beaver dam is the beaver’s bread and butter. It uses it for hunting and as a home. The beaver dams are also the main cause of damage to property by causing floods. Because of all the debris around the beaver dam, it will be difficult for a human to get there. The best solution is to place traps in the area surrounding the dam. You can use fresh fruit as an incentive inside the trap or jelly or peanut butter. Because there is no guarantee that a beaver will see the trap or smell its contents, you should try to place more than one trap in the area. Make sure to also cover the trap with vegetation from the area because beavers are actually pretty smart animals. If they sense that there is a trap or they see a trap go off, they will stay away from the area altogether. Another reason to use more than one trap is that if you have one beaver, then chances are that you have a few more. Traps are the most effective way of catching beavers, but you have to make sure that you actually catch all of them because beavers can actually reproduce pretty fast.
How To Get Rid Of Beavers In Your Woods If the beavers are not in a dam, but are instead in the woods, you should thank your lucky stars because your life just got a lot simpler. You will still set up the traps and you should set them close to a body of water. Use the same kind of bait and with a little luck you will have trapped the beavers in less than 24 hours. You should know that the reason you are placing the traps near the water is because beavers need to be close to the water so it is more likely that they will be trapped there. You can find these traps at some home and gardening stores everywhere as well as some outdoor and hunting stores. Keep in mind that beavers are the biggest rodents in the US so you should get a trap big enough for them. Another thing you can do to get rid of beavers in the woods is to mix latex paint with fine sand and use the mixture on the base of trees. That will work to repel the beavers.
How To Get Rid Of Beavers In Your Yard Beavers will not usually be found in people’s yards. They try to stay away from humans because they see us as predators. But in those rare cases where you do have beavers in your yard, there are easy ways to keep them out. You can use the same mixture of paint and sand on your trees to keep the beavers away. If you do not like the way the paint makes your trees look, then you can use wire fence around your trees. Make sure that this fencing is at least four feet tall from the ground. Once you are certain that there are no beavers in your yard, you can keep them out with a fence of the same height. Because some beavers will also dig, it is recommended that you use an underground fence which should be made of metal and not plastic to prevent the beaver from simply digging through it. A lot of people will want to kill the beavers, but you should know that it’s not always legal to do so. And if you follow these instructions, you should be able to get rid of them humanely.
Read more about Beaver Removal. Some beaver trapping methods call for lethal control. To learn more about this, read my How To Kill a Beaver page.
How to Get Rid of Beavers – Beavers are highly industrious and in some environments, their activities tend to be destructive. Their tree cutting and dam building habits for instance have been known to result in flooded farm fields. Most homeowners as well do not like to have their trees hewn down at will by these rodents. The semi-aquatic beavers are very adept at adapting and this makes it difficult to control them. Other complaints include home flooding, flooding of highways or railroads, blockage of drainage systems and contamination of water supplies.

To control beavers effectively, you must first identify their location and the type of damage being caused by their activities. You may then select the best method to employ, and the best way to approach it.
Live Trapping
While selecting the live trap to use for beavers, go for the extra-large and durably strong such that the trap is able to support the size and weight of a beaver. A galvanized 12 gauge wire cage would do. The trap should be positioned near the home of beavers. Beaver trapping requires a lot of patience as the large rodents are known to be trap shy.

  • Determine their travel path, which is usually defined, and find a level spot for the trap along it.
  • Bait the trap with beaver castor if available, or use polar twigs in the alternative.
  • Set the trap before dusk when the nocturnal beavers would emerge and face it towards their pond home.
  • Check the trap often to prevent any beaver caught from suffering long.
  • Once you have a catch, wear protective rubber gloves before handling the cage to avoid any contact with the animal.
  • Transport your beaver with care to another water body at least 10 miles away from your place and release it there. You may want to get help with lifting the beaver as they can weigh as much as 50 pounds.

Before going on to trap a beaver, you may want to find out what the law says about it in your locality.
Exclusion
This is not so easy with beavers because they are particularly skilled at changing the environment to suit them. Beaver exclusion is mostly done after beavers have been removed from a property. Before carrying out this habitat modification, you must ensure that all beavers have been removed from the dams and lodges.

  1. Destroy all dam structures as well as the lodges. Beavers have been known to rebuild dams quite dexterously, so you must be consistent with dismantling them until they are all gone. Destroy the building materials as well with a wood chipper to make rebuilding more difficult for them.
  2. Install tree guards around all your trees, which constitute the source of building materials for beavers. Wrap the trees in 2 to 3 inches wire mesh or hardware cloth. The tree wraps should be fastened to the ground and the trees so beavers don’t chew them off. They should also be at least 3 feet tall, to be effective.
  3. Construct a wire mesh fence: The wire mesh should be made of metal rods and chain link. For maximum effectiveness, this fence must be 3 feet to 4 feet high. It must also be buried at least 18 inches or one foot into the ground. The bottom of the fence should be made of stakes and the stakes put within the frame of the mesh fence because the beavers are so smart that they can dig deep into the ground and lift up the fence. Ensure to check and re-check your fence regularly to ascertain that everything is still in their proper place. A weekly check is highly recommended in the least.
  4. Sand and Paint – this is an economical way to prevent beaver damage and infestation. Get some latex paint from your local store and mix with sand in equal proportions. Paint all the trees in your yard of farm up to 4 feet in height. A major disadvantage of this method is that you have to rinse and repeat daily which is no small feat.
  5. Build a drainage system over the beavers’ dam. This will allow proper channeling of water to the appropriate channels and disallow the animals to control water flow.

An effective control program for beavers would include a combination of trapping and relocation, with habitat modification and exclusion. Repellents do not work with beavers so do not bother to invest in them. To execute an effective beaver control, you may need to hire the services of a professional wildlife practitioner.

Beaver Prevention – How to keep Beavers away from pond or stream

Need wildlife removal in your town? Now serving over 500 US locations – updated for 2018
Although trapping is usually the obvious choice for getting rid of animals such as beavers, there are actually quite a few options open to you. This is definitely the case when you have a pond or stream that you’re trying to protect.

The idea behind keeping beavers away is to make their life as difficult as possible when they are near your property. You could start by looking at the trees they have already started to destroy. The beavers will come back to the trees, sometimes taking bark and other bits from it as food to eat right away, some to take back and stash for when colder weather comes. Sometimes, however, they don’t even bother eating what they have stolen from the tree at all. They use it as construction material, weaving it in around the existing structure of the dam they are building, making it stronger and all the more difficult to tear down.
Those trees are actually quite easily protected with a homemade combination of latex paint and sand. When mixed together, the texture is very gritted and, when applied to the tree, will provide a covering that the beavers do not enjoy chewing on. It doesn’t feel great for their teeth, and when it doesn’t feel great, they won’t continue to chew on it. This is a relatively inexpensive way to protect the trees and other wooden structures on your land.
For the parts you can’t protect with the sand paint concoction, you can use mesh wiring or hardware cloth. It’s tough and durable, so the beavers can’t chew through it even with their powerful teeth and jaws, and it’s, once again, relatively inexpensive. Large areas, such as flower beds or vegetable patches, can be protected with a framework of wood and this mesh wiring. When placed over the patches you want to protect, you have a cage, of sorts, that this animal can’t easily break through.
While we’re on the subject of fencing, a fence is actually a very good idea, although not always possible with certain types of land, admittedly. If you make it high enough — around four feet or so — the beavers should be kept out quite nicely.
If you know there are beavers already hanging out in your pond or stream, you could install a drain pipe. This is quite an extensive job, we know, but when you make that particular patch of water inhospitable for the beavers to live in, they’re not going to want to live there. If the water starts to drain out, for example, there won’t be enough to comfortably home the creature and it will soon toodle off to find somewhere else to set up home.
There are a few things that you will need to do before you just start draining bodies of water, obviously. You must work out whether or not that particular body of water belongs to you before you take any action. If it belongs to the local city or council, you must alert them to the beaver problem. You certainly don’t want to pay for something that you don’t need to, and it’s a very well known fact that beaver dams are remarkably hard to get down. In most cases, industrial sized construction equipment is necessary. Such items are usually quite costly to rent, and some of them require special permits to operate too. Unless you have those permits, you will also need to hire someone to work the machinery or equipment.
Finally, there are repellents that you can look at. If you were to ask experts, they would generally tell you that beaver repellents do not work. These include garlic, mothballs, ammonia, and much more besides. Wildlife eviction fluid can sometimes work but, again, doesn’t always come with great results. This is usually made up of the gland secretions and urine of male predatory wildlife, such as foxes and coyotes. These can prey on beavers and might be enough to scare them off. Although, it must be said, the fluid doesn’t work for long when it’s near water.
Repellents need to be constantly applied in order for them to work, so if you do not keep up with the reapplications, whatever animal you may have been successfully keeping back will just come right back onto your land again. It’s a never-ending cycle, and a classic example of why repellents rarely work to keep any nuisance wildlife at bay.
Read more about How to get rid of beavers.
For more information, you may want to click on one of these guides that I wrote:
How To Guide: Who should I hire? – What questions to ask, to look for, who NOT to hire.
How To Guide: do it yourself! – Advice on saving money by doing wildlife removal yourself.
Guide: How much does wildlife removal cost? – Analysis of wildlife control prices.

What to do about beavers

The beaver is making a comeback. Nearly driven to extinction by the fur trade, nature’s engineers are now 6–12 million strong in the United States.

This return will provide significant benefits to our country’s ecology, which has lost much of its wetlands to development and agriculture. Despite this, we often find ourselves in conflict with beavers over who gets to occupy floodplains. Due to the human expense and effort required to develop these areas, it is most appropriate to allow beavers to live and build in their habitat without disruption. We can gain great benefit from working with, rather than against, this industrious rodent.

Common problems and solutions

The two most common problems associated with beavers are flooding that results from blocked structures (such as culverts) and damage caused to trees.

Flooding

Flooding becomes a crisis after unusually heavy rain or snow enters bodies of water with significant blockages. While beaver dams sometimes contribute to this type of flooding, they can also store water during periods of drought and slow down the movement of water from land to river systems, thereby preventing more serious floods and significant financial damage downstream.

Tree Damage

Damage to trees in urban and suburban areas is likely to be noticed before it becomes critical, but perhaps not before a valuable tree or two has been lost. Operators of commercial forests attribute millions of dollars of timber loss annually to beavers.

Tolerance

Beavers play an important role in establishing and maintaining wetlands — learning to live peacefully with these animals is important to the health of their environment. Beaver dams enhance their environment by:

  • Providing habitat for many sensitive plant and animal species.
  • Improving water quality.
  • Controlling floods by slowing water movement.

Beaver colonies and dams also provide an accessible and educational opportunity for people to learn about local ecosystems and enjoy wildlife through observation and photography. Expanding public education in areas where beavers live can lead to public appreciation for their large contributions.

Protecting trees

DIY trunk guards

Place homemade tree guards around the trunk. The guards should be about three feet high and made of galvanized welded wire (2 x 2 or 2 x 3 inch is recommended). This material can be found in any large hardware or home improvement store, usually sold as fencing. Try not to use the lighter chicken wire, as it is generally too flimsy to provide good protection.

Finer-mesh screening—such as that used for windows as bug screen—is more expensive, but usable if welded wire is unavailable. It can be especially effective in protecting small (two- to six-inch-in-diameter) ornamental or specimen trees.

Guards may need to be pinned to the ground around larger trees, mulching within the guard to keep weeds at bay.

Paint and sand

The USDA has shown some success in protecting trees by painting their base with a mixture of coarse mason’s sand (30–70 mil) and exterior latex paint. (The ratio is twenty ounces of sand to one gallon of paint.)

The abrasive quality of the mixture may deter beavers. The paint color can be matched to the tree so it will blend in.

Blocking trees with fencing

Because beavers are not good climbers, three to four-foot-high fencing can also be a highly effective way to block their access to larger groves.

Check the fences frequently to make sure they are intact and that beavers haven’t pushed under them, especially where the fences cross established haul-outs, where beavers like to come from water to land.

An electrified wire strung approximately four inches off the ground can also prevent beaver from entering an area. This type of fence can be especially effective in a small garden or crop plot when set up to protect plants for a few weeks and taken down afterward.

Flood protection

In the past, “solutions” to the presence of beaver dams have often involved the use of heavy machinery to tear the dams apart or explosives to blow them up. Neither approach is particularly useful: Beavers will quickly attempt to rebuild their structures using new material. Dam destruction only exacerbates any perceived or real damage they may have done in the first place.

Likewise, trapping or shooting resident beavers is ineffective, because it only creates a vacuum into which new beavers will move, often sooner rather than later. All of the strategies aimed at removal or destruction deny the presence of beaver wetlands—landscapes that are both appropriate and needed.

Deterrent devices

As with many non-lethal approaches, the devices used by experts to stop dam-building are deterrent in nature: they take advantage of beavers’ natural behavior and preferences.

The design and installation of deterrent devices is complex, and technical assistance from experienced professionals is recommended when using them. Experience in reading sites and predicting how beavers will respond to attempts to defeat their dam behavior can be invaluable. It is also necessary to be aware of local, state and federal regulations when planning to install these devices.

Here are some tools (both old and new) that can help prevent or control flooding caused by beaver dams:

  • The “Clemson Leveler” (used for more than thirty years).
  • The Beaver Deceivers™, Round Fence™, and Castor Master™ (all developed by Skip Lisle—simple but rugged enough to withstand the force of ice).
  • CulverClear™ technologies (developed by Mike Callahan).

Whether made out of wood or steel frames, the overall savings these devices represent compared to the cost of repeated beaver removal or dam destruction, make them highly cost effective as well as humane.

Additional strategies

Notching an existing dam and running a pipe through the gap will stimulate the beaver to repair the dam at the site of the notch but not at the pipe ends, which will allow the water to be set at a level that meets human needs.

To ensure the upstream end of the system isn’t blocked by beavers or debris a filtering device, often called a Round Fence™, can be installed. These devices consist of a flexible corrugated plastic pipe, sized to the particular job but usually somewhere between eight and fifteen inches in diameter.

In the past, the culvert pipes installed under roads were often undersized and hence easily plugged by beavers. Newer installations generally take beaver activity into account and are designed correctly from the start to prevent plugging, but there are still a lot of smaller ones out there.

For these, the Beaver Deceiver™, can be effective, either in conjunction with Round Fence™ and a pipe system at its front, or as a stand-alone device. This strategy involves creating a fence barrier in front of the culvert (usually shaped like a trapezoid but adaptable to different configurations as well) that takes the beavers so far away from running water at the culvert head that their instinctive motivation to dam is defeated.

Public health concerns

It has long been suggested that beavers may be responsible for outbreaks of the parasitic disease giardiasis in humans. However, recent studies and examination of past outbreaks suggest that other factors, such as contamination of drinking sources with human waste, may play a larger role in the spread of the disease than beavers do.

Resources

Organizations and individuals to contact for information about beaver and assistance with beaver conflicts include:

  • Beaver Deceivers International
    1187 Cabbel Road
    Grafton, VT 05146
  • Beaver, Wetlands and Wildlife
    146 Van Dyke Road
    Dolgeville, NY 13329
    [email protected]
  • Beaver Solutions
    14 Mountain Road
    Southampton, MA 01073
    [email protected]

How To Protect Trees from Beaver Chewing

Beaver chewing at the base of a tree

Beavers chop down trees with their teeth for food and building dams and lodges. In addition, like all rodents their teeth never stop growing so chewing wood helps keep them sharp and prevents them from growing too long.

Protecting trees from beaver chewing is a very common concern for homeowners. Fortunately there are ways to protect selected trees without destroying the beaver and its wetland ecosystem. Most of the following tree protection techniques are inexpensive, reliable, and relatively easy for nearly any person to do in a short period of time.

Protecting Trees with Fencing

Fencing to prevent beavers from chewing a mature tree. Leave room for tree growth.

Various styles of fencing can be used to protect individual specimen trees or a small grove of trees.

Individual trees can be spared from beaver gnawing by placing wire cylinders around the base of their trunks. The purpose of the heavy wire cylinder is simply to keep the beaver from getting to the tree. This is our preferred method to protect trees from beaver chewing. The technique is 100% effective, it only takes a few minutes per tree, is inexpensive, and it will remain effective for many years with no maintenance!

Since beavers use trees for food and building materials, fencing their preferred trees (such as aspen, poplar, cottonwood and willow) cuts beavers off from these needed supplies. This can make the habitat area less inviting for beavers.

How to Install the Fencing

Completed tree protection near a pond

The tree trunk fence cylinders are best made from 2″ x 4″ mesh. Chicken wire often rusts out in a year or two, and hardware wire mesh is very noticeable and not very aesthetic. Various length rolls of the 2” x 4” wire mesh can be purchased at any home supply store. We recommend 4 foot high fence so the beavers cannot get above it. In cold climates make sure the fence height is 2 feet above the highest snow level to prevent winter tree chewing. Often you will have a choice between galvanized, green or black vinyl coated fencing. All work well, so for aesthetic reasons choose the color that best matches the color of your tree trunks. The initial gleam of the galvanized fence quickly fades to a nice dull gray patina which is barely noticeable on most trees.

In addition to the correct height fence, you will need a pair of wire snips and gloves. Wire fasteners or small zip ties are optional.

Procedure
With simple wire snips cut a length of fence long enough to encircle the tree trunk while leaving a 3 – 6 inch gap between the wire mesh cylinder and the tree trunk. This gap allows for future trunk growth without girdling.

Position the cut piece of fence around the tree trunk and use each of the wire prongs to fasten the sides of the fence, completing the fence cylinder around the tree trunk. Other fasteners (e.g. hog rings, zip ties, etc.) can also be used to fashion the cylinder.

The cylinder generally does not need to be anchored to the ground.

You can cut the bottom of the cylinder to fit a sloping ground, or to protect prominent roots from chewing.

Replace the fence cylinder if it’s corroded or if room for more tree trunk growth is needed.

Other Fencing Methods to Protect Trees

Protecting a Grove of Trees
Sometimes a person may wish to protect an entire stand of trees without wrapping each trunk individually. In this case a grove a trees can be protected by encircling all the trees with a fence. However, because beavers are good diggers, the entire fence needs to be installed in contact with the ground so that there are no gaps the beavers can exploit. In cold climates it needs to be 2 feet higher than the winter snow. Some people have reported success with leaving the side furthest from the water open. See diagram.

The fence can be simple 2” x 4” mesh secured on posts and/or against the tree trunks. However, often a roll of fence can be difficult to contour to uneven terrain.

Electric Fence
To deal with uneven terrain or for a more aesthetic look, some people have reported good results using an electrified fence placed 4” above the ground. These electric fence kits are often solar powered. They are commonly used by farmers and are usually available at farm supply stores. The electric fence is less noticeable than a large fence enclosure, which is good aesthetically for areas with high visibility. However, an electric fence needs to be inspected periodically to ensure that a tree branch doesn’t fall on it and short it out.

How To Stop Beavers Chewing Trees – Calgary, AB

More Ways to Protect Trees from Beavers

Sand- Paint Tree Protection

Ingredients

  1. Paint: Exterior Latex (choose a color to match the bark)
  2. Mason Sand: 30 mil – 70 mil

Formula

  • Mix 5 oz sand per quart of paint, or
  • Mix 20 oz sand per gallon of paint, or
  • Mix 140 gm sand per liter of paint.

Procedure
Make in small batches at a time on the day you are going to apply it. Using too much sand will cause the mixture to roll off the tree. Apply paint to bottom three to four feet of tree trunk (2 feet above snow). Do not need to reapply for several years. Consider leaving some trees unpainted for beaver food. This formula does not work for saplings, so protect them with wire fencing.

Mixing Sand and Paint. Sierra Wildlife Coalition, CAColor Match Paint to Bark. Sierra Wildlife Coalition, CATree on Left with Sand-Paint. Sierra Wildlife Coalition, CASand-painting aspen fun. Sierra Wildlife Coalition, CA
Sand-Paint Teamwork. Sierra Wildlife Coalition, CAAspen Cutting. Photo by S. Fouty, USFS in OR

Taste Aversive Tree Protection

Cayenne Pepper and Oil
Procedure: Infuse vegetable or mineral oil with cayenne pepper and then paint on the tree trunks. This has been reported as an effective means of preventing beaver chewing by Dr. Thomas E. Eveland, Ecology Consultant, The Fund for Animals and by the “Beaversprite” newsletter.

Disadvantages: It has been reported by a VT state official that applying this mixture has killed thin barked trees. Also it may need to be reapplied 1 -2 times annually.

FAQ’S

Why do beavers cut down trees?

Beavers use the trees they cut down for food, and they use the left over branches for building materials for their dams and lodges.

A beaver snacking on the bark…

In cold weather climates beavers are most active cutting down trees in the fall because they are preparing for the winter. Beavers do not hibernate, so they plan ahead and build a stockpile (cache) of edible sticks in order to survive the cold winter. They stick one end of these sticks in the mud at the bottom of their pond near their lodge so that when the pond freezes over and they can no longer access new trees, they can swim out of their lodge, grab a stick, and bring it back to the comfort of their lodge to eat.

How do they do it?

It’s hard to believe that beavers are able to chew right through the trunk of a tree, but they do. Beavers have very strong and sharp teeth which are paired with powerful jaw muscles. A single beaver can fell a medium sized tree in a single night! Beaver teeth never stop growing, so it is believed that beavers need to constantly chew wood to prevent their teeth from growing too long! Amazingly, due to a hard orange enamel on the front side of their incisors and a softer white dentin on the backside of these teeth, their teeth are self-sharpening as they chew on wood. As beavers chew the softer backsides of the incisors wear faster, creating teeth with chisel-like cutting surfaces. They also have molars which they use for grinding their food.

Do they eat the wood?

When a beaver cuts down a tree it wants to eat the inner, growing (cambium) layer of the tree bark. That is why they will nibble all the bark off the branch, leaving a debarked stick. They will also eat the fine twigs and leaves. However, they do not eat the inner woody part of the branches and tree trunk as they are unable to digest the wood. Once the bark is all eaten from a branch, they reuse the stick to build their lodges and dams. A beaver’s diet consists solely of vegetation. They do not eat fish or any non-plant materials. The reason they topple trees is to gain access to all the bark on the tree as well as the smaller twigs and leaves. Branches will be chewed off in sections that are small enough to drag into the water for safe and leisurely eating. The bark of large tree trunks will be chewed where it lies if the beaver can reach it. Beavers prefer to cut down smaller diameter trees because the bark is thinner and easier to digest, but they can topple any size tree.

What trees species do they eat?

Beavers have a definite preference for the trees they like to eat. Preferred tree species include alder, aspen, apple, birch, cherry, cottonwood, poplar and willow. Aspen/poplar and cottonwood are their favorite. If the supply of their preferred trees is low they will harvest oaks and some maples. Conifers such as pines, hemlocks, etc. are their least favorite.

Beavers will sometimes girdle (remove the bark around the entire base) of conifers for an unknown reason. One possibility is to obtain some needed nutrients, especially before deciduous trees resume growing in the spring.

Why do they cut so much in the fall?

If you live in a cold weather climate you may notice that beavers cut down the most trees in the late fall. This is because they are stockpiling a food cache of sticks for the winter. Beavers do not hibernate, so they plan ahead and store a large cache of edible sticks underwater near their lodge in order to be able to eat once the ponds freeze. Once the pond is frozen over and they can no longer access new trees, they will swim out of their lodge, grab an underwater stick, and bring it back to the comfort of their lodge to eat the bark.

How far from the water do beavers cut trees?

Beavers are well adapted to water and evolved over millennia to use water as a defense from predators. While surprisingly fast over short distances, beavers nonetheless do not like to travel too far from the water to cut down a tree. Most trees that beavers cut down are within 100 feet of the water. As beavers deplete the supply of food trees close to the pond’s edge they will usually raise the height of the beaver dam to bring the pond closer to more distant trees. Another engineering trick beaver will employ is to excavate canals from the pond in the direction of the trees they wish to harvest. Once a tree is toppled they are able to cut off and transport the branches easier and more safely to the pond using their canal. Beaver are truly “Nature’s Engineers”!

Dead Trees are so destructive and ugly!

The sight of dead, flooded trees (snags) seems very destructive and ugly to most people. However, snags are needed by many species of birds. Swallows, wood ducks, blue herons, eagles, osprey, woodpeckers, turtles and many others rely on these dead trees for food, shelter and places to perch. The death of trees may look destructive and unattractive to us, but they are a necessary and 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. These life forms become food for innumerable larger species and create a prolific biodiversity of species in and around a beaver pond. Beaver ponds are seven times more bioproductive than the most fertile farmland. They become magnets for wildlife. So at first glance the death of these trees appears to be a destructive act by the beaver, but it is actually an absolute requirement to support the abundance of life that makes these wetlands so valuable.

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. Eventually they will relocate but it often takes years. Trapping the beavers preserves the food supply and will keep it attractive habitat indefinitely. In our experience trapping is a short term solutions as new beavers often relocate to the trapped habitat every year.

Once an area is depleted of their preferred trees it won’t become good beaver habitat for another 10 – 15 years until new trees are large enough to provide adequate food.

Wrapping the trunks of trees with fencing not only protects the trees from chewing, but also modifies the habitat by decreasing the beaver food supply. The more trees that are protected the sooner the beavers exhaust their food supply and will relocate. The area typically won’t become good beaver habitat for 10 – 15 years until new trees are large enough to provide adequate food. This is a longer term (and less expensive) option if there are limited number of trees to protect.

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DID YOU KNOW?

Beavers are best known for their natural trait of building dams in rivers and streams, and building their homes known as beaver lodges. They are the second-largest rodent in the world. Beavers continue to grow throughout life. Adult specimens weighing over 25 kg (55 lb) are not uncommon. Females are as large as or larger than males of the same age, which is uncommon among mammals. Beaver dams are created both as a protection against predators, such as coyotes, wolves and bears, and to provide easy access to food during winter. Destroying a beaver dam without removing the beavers takes a lot of effort, especially if the dam is downstream of an active lodge. Beavers can rebuild such primary dams overnight, though they may not defend secondary dams as vigorously.

Beavers causing problems in your lawn or garden?

Beaver and beaver dams can be disruptive to your landscape; the flooding can cause extensive property damage. This disruption is not limited to human geography; beavers can destroy nesting habitat for endangered species, and often destroy mature trees for which they have no use.

Nature’s Defense is the most powerful form of Elk Control available today and your natural solution that is easy to use and guarenteed to work.

What is Nature’s Defense? Nature’s Defense is a powerful Patent Pending granular animal repellent that uses the strongest, most effective animal repellent ingredients found in nature today.

25 years of animal research and testing has gone into the development of this first-of-it’s-kind organic all purpose animal repellent that is 100% safe, organic and easy to use.

Now you can use the same research proven formula that professionals use as part of their animal control business. Controlling beavers is easy by simply sprinkling Nature’s Defense organic formula around the area you want to protect; your beaver problem will be solved quickly and easily.

Directions: How to repel Beavers

Sprinkle Nature’s Defense granular animal repellent directly over and around the areas that the beavers are causing damage too. Apply Nature’s Defense twice a week for the first two weeks, then once a week for maintenance.

Note: Allow one week for Nature’s Defense All Purpose Animal Repellent to take full effect.

Recommended Products to Use:

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Beavers are ecosystem engineers. As a family moves into new territory, the rodents drop a large tree across a stream to begin a new dam, which creates a pond for their lodge. They cover it with sticks, mud and stones, usually working at night. As the water level rises behind the dam, it submerges the entrance to their lodge and protects the beavers from predators.

This pooling of water leads to a cascade of ecological changes. The pond nourishes young willows, aspens and other trees — prime beaver food — and provides a haven for fish that like slow-flowing water. The growth of grass and shrubs alongside the pond improves habitat for songbirds, deer and elk.

Moreover, because dams raise underground water levels, they increase water supplies and substantially lower the cost of pumping groundwater for farming.

And they help protect fish imperiled by rising water temperatures in rivers. The deep pools formed by beaver dams, with cooler water at the bottom, are “outstanding rearing habitat for juvenile coho salmon,” said Michael M. Pollock, a fish biologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Seattle, who has studied the ecological effects of beaver dams for 20 years.

Restoration is not usually as simple as bringing beavers in; if left unchecked, they can do serious damage. Here in Butte, for example, beavers constantly dammed a creek where it ran through a culvert under a pedestrian walkway, flooding nearby homes and a park.

Enter the “beaver deceiver.” Beavers have evolved to respond to the sound of running water by trying to stop it, because their survival depends on a full pond. (A Yellowstone National Park biologist reported that when he briefly kept a beaver in his basement with plans to reintroduce it to a local stream, it kept frantically clawing at its cage to reach the sound of a flushing toilet.) So local officials installed the deceiver, a large wooden frame covered with stout metal mesh that blocks beavers’ access to the culvert but allows water to keep flowing. Even if they try to dam up the box, the water will still flow, and eventually they give up and move on.

Are you still worrying about hungry, destructive beavers lurking on your property? It’s time to embark on a beaver control plan. We share how to control these destructive critters.

Beavers can easily transform any freshwater environment – lake or pond – into a suitable habitat. The best way to stop beavers from doing this is with integrated control plan that includes repelling, trapping, habitat modification and removal. No matter how big your beaver problem is, our step-by-step tips and instructions will help you to make your property beaver-free.

Effective beaver control and removal

Since beavers’ teeth never stop growing, these nocturnal pests spend most of their time chewing trees – which may be on your property. They like to feed on leaves, bark and twigs. So, how to control these nocturnal animals?

Here is how:

Beaver trapping

Trapping is efficient and non-lethal way to remove beaver pests. If you want to remove these pests, beaver trapping is the best solution. Find out where the beaver pathway – the path the beaver frequents – is. Then cover the bottom of the trap with some natural vegetation material. You can also use wood chips and dirt for covering. Make certain that you are using the most effective beaver bait – like Poplar Oil.

Tip: Beavers are nocturnal critters. So the best time to set the trap is in the evening.

Fencing solution

Want to exclude nasty beavers entirely from groves, forest and other areas? Then fencing is a good solution. As far as these critters are not good climbers, 3 to 4 ft. high fencing will be an effective way to block beavers’ access to larger groves. Instead of fencing off individual trees, we suggest installing an area fence. Although, fencing is cost-prohibitive, it can be very effective in keeping destructive beavers out.

What to choose:

  • Electric fencing.
  • Wire-mesh fencing.

To make sure the beavers have not pushed under fences, you are to check them frequently.

Interesting
Beavers have sharp and strong teeth. When it comes to trees, these critters have favorite tree species that include aspen, alder, cherry, birch, poplar and cottonwood.
Beavers’ preferred ones are poplar and cottonwood.

Wrap trees

If you want to make your beaver control successful, you need to make the habitat less suitable for these critters. Wrap trees, which they use as a building material. The beavers won’t be able to cut the trees down. This can encourage them to move on to another location.

Wrapping the trunk of trees will not only protect the trees from chewing but also decrease the beaver food supply. Keep in mind, the more trees – that are on your property – are protected, the sooner destructive beavers will relocate.

Beaver deterrent

If you have got more beaver problems besides foliage destruction and tree damage from destructive local critters, simple deterrents won’t do the job. When beaver starts clogging culverts, building dams and causing water issues, you need to trap these critters out to get control.

A beaver can sit up on land with the help of its flat tail.

Many tricks have been devised over the years to deter beavers from damaging trees but few worked. We suggest using the following deterrent:

  • Ro-pel – effective solution of preventing foliage destruction from beavers and other rodents and mammals. The product awful bitter taste that remains effective despite rain.
    Losing your beloved trees or watching your property degrade is not a pleasant thing. But you don’t have to let it happen. Use Ro-pel which is a quick and safe way to ward off all nasty beavers.
    The product is ready-to-use but you shouldn’t mix it with other chemicals.
    Cost: $16.00

Beaver Repellent Powerful Solutions

Although these critters are very important for the environment, it’s essential to keep control over them especially when they make damage on your property.

Want to keep them out of your garden? Use efficient repellents.

  • Nature’s Defense – environmentally safe, plant safe, family safe organic product that creates an irritating scent barrier unpleasant to unwanted beavers.
    Cost: $16.85
    Usage: Sprinkle the product around areas where beaver pests cause problems. Repeat the process once a week. Recommended for use outdoors.
  • Bonide Animal repellent – efficient solution that repels in 3 effective ways: by taste, sense of touch and smell. The product protects property including structures. Bonide triggers beaver’s instinct to escape and avoid the treated area.
    Cost: $14.95
  • 4-the Birds – effective solution that can stop beavers from chewing on tree. Although it is made for bird-control, the solution can be effectively sprayed on the trees. It will surely stop beavers from damaging your trees. Once applied, the destructive beaver will move to another area where untreated trees are available.

    Cost: $55.70

    Safety: 4-the Birds won’t hurt beavers or the tree since it’s not a poison. This irritable product will simply repel the beaver from chewing the bark.

    Actual
    Removing beavers from a pond is challenging.
    If you are not an expert, hire a professional removal service. Beaver removal experts have licenses and can not only successfully trap annoying beavers but move them off of the premises for euthanasia or relocation.

  • BeaverRepel – natural, organic beaver repellent that can make away with all beavers on your property. No need to risk kids’ and pet’s health with toxic products. Now you can protect your property with earth-friendly beaver control solution.

    Cost: $29.95

    Benefits:

    • Beavers will not cross this powerful beaver repellent barrier.
    • The product is natural and powerful

    How to apply: The product comes in special, concentrated bottles. Mix solution with water and apply using a garden sprayer.
    Where to use: anywhere in or around your yard – including docks, trees etc.

Don’t use chemically formulated, dangerous poisons to solve your beaver problem. Use our smart ideas and control nasty beavers by trapping or repellent solutions. While trapping can cost hundred of dollars natural repellents and deterrents are available and can effectively crack any pest problem.

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