Some of you may ask the question “Now, why would people want to attract beavers? There are articles on the web that tell you how to get rid of beavers!” Although that is true, read on for lots of reasons why beavers bring benefits to rivers, streams, and more.
Well, many of you who have searched for this topic already know that beavers do fantastic work for your river and the entire ecosystem around it. They do work that environmentalists say should be done to restore the land around streams, wetlands, and floodplains.
How does this happen? Beavers naturally construct dams that build up water and retain sediment. This construction has many benefits, not just to fish but also to plants and wildlife. The benefits of attracting beavers are many!
The physical, biological, and chemical characteristics of the surrounding ecosystem are all improved. There are a whole host of benefits that are listed as part of river restoration projects that beavers can take care of on their own. Consider the following:
- Higher water tables
- Reconnected and expanded floodplains
- Higher summer base flows
- Expanded wetlands
- Improved water quality
- Greater habitat complexity
- More diversity and richness in the populations of plants, birds, fish, amphibians, reptiles, and mammals
- Overall increased complexity of the river ecosystem
So beavers naturally help create more complex habitats through their beaver dams. Because of this, beavers are the newest partners in habitat restoration. A few beavers can do the work that many workers (and much money) would take to help restore a stream to make it equally thriving.
So Where Would You Attract Beavers to?
Those interested in restoration want to start by having beavers return to places where they used to thrive. You can see evidence of older beaver dams there already. Beavers might have left because of human trappers, predators, loss of food, etc. The goal is to get them back and those who have been successful have shared their secrets to help anyone attract beavers back to an area that could use restoration and development.
One practical change is that it helps with fish. Check out the following benefits that beavers bring to fish in your stream:
- Increased fish productivity
- Increased habitat
- Increased rearing
- Enhanced growth rates
If this is your personal property, think of it as bringing benefits similar to planting a garden and reaping a harvest.
What Will Attract Beavers to an Area?
Thankfully, there are several options to bring beavers back. Take a look at the following options and try the one that best fits you and your area. You may need to try several.
As you can imagine, there are tons of options on how to do this. But the truth is that replanting deciduous trees has shown to attract beavers. The work that beavers do will help water willows and help them grow so the work is mutually beneficial.
See the article hyperlinked below for an example of how this author takes willow stakes and plants them into the creek bed to help jump-start this process. This description is a fascinating process.
Why willows? Willows will produce new roots and eventually a new plant, all from a willow stem. So you can start a new plant by cutting a willow stem from an existing willow and sinking it into the ground.
This method works! And it doesn’t take much effort. There are certain ages of willow trees and specific times of the year where this method is most successful. These factors are also described in the article linked in the last paragraph.
2 – Add a human-made beaver dam
Now, this doesn’t mean that you are going to need to get out the saw and logs and build a log home structure. You will drive posts into the riverbed and then add a brush that slows the flow of water.
How does this work? This structure will slow down and catch the sediments swept along in the streamflow, allowing them to drop to the streambed. The streambed eventually raises and the stream itself rises to floodplain level. The result is that the stream naturally supports deciduous forest growth around the stream.
The design needed consists of vertical poles driven into the streambed, and then materials are woven through the poles. The dams are permeable for fish to swim through but work to catch sediment. They naturally trap other debris and sediment that will continue to build your dam and river.
3 – Trap a beaver with beaver bait
Choose a beaver trap and add a bait that attracts them. There are some simple bait choices that you may have in your home already, such as apples. They also love poplar tree branches and twigs soaked in poplar oil.
You can also add beaver castor, which is a natural scent that they excrete and are attracted to. Place the bait inside the trap past the trigger. For more specific tips, click here.
Other Important Beaver Facts
Through the centuries, beaver dams created beautiful and majestic stream systems. They were known to have slow, deep water. The dams also built the floodplain wetlands, which were dominated by vegetation. When beavers left because of being hunted or losing food, the shape and natural growth of the floodplains degraded. That is why they need rebuilding today.
As a general rule, beaver populations declined as humans increased. Beaver populations had already declined noticeably by the end of the 19th century. Again, they were often trapped by humans who had no idea of the long-term effects that hunting, trapping, and killing beavers would have on the ecosystem.
More recently, in this age of environmentalism, there has been a great recognition of how beaver dams play a vital role in both maintaining and diversifying stream and river habitats. In the past 100 years, land managers throughout the Northern Hemisphere have tried time and again to reintroduce beavers in areas where they used to be dominant.
Today, beaver populations are rebounding throughout North America. The beaver population is now estimated to be about 10 million and reoccupying most of its former territory.
Beavers are found in many different aquatic habitats, but they do like the following:
- Beavers prefer to build dams on smaller, flatter gradient streams that flow through valleys. Beavers tend to choose the lowest gradient sites first.
- Beavers avoid constrained valleys and high-gradient streams. However, research has uncovered that beavers will colonize this less-preferred habitat if their population densities are high.
- Beavers also occupy large rivers. However, they restrict dam building to off-channel habitats. They also build seasonal dams across large rivers during low-flow conditions (so, in the drier seasons of the year).
- Beavers also build dams on wetlands, estuaries, and even lakes. They will build on just about any body of water where additional water can be retained and the habitat improved by building a dam.
In addition to these habitat improvements, beaver makes use of streams with developed areas that contain vegetation they can eat and potential construction materials to build dams and lodges. Beavers use a wide variety of items as construction materials, such as trees, shrubs, substrate, and herbaceous vegetation. As food, beavers prefer to eat aspen, cottonwood, and willows.