Builders, family-oriented, the mascot for Oregon State University and the national animal of Canada, this commercial from the Great White North tells no likes – “The beaver is a truly proud and noble animal!”
Of course, too much of a good thing can be its own bad thing, and beavers aren’t immune from that. Sure, they’re cute when mucking about in the water and it can be incredible to watch them instructively create their massive dams, but what if they do that in places they shouldn’t? What if they decide the perfect place for a dam is right near a vital water source, or their dam-making efforts cause muddy water and other run off to spill your way?
The fact is when it comes to watery habitats, Beaver Desires sometimes clash with People’s Property – and when the latter start to pose serious danger to the former, it’s time to start thinking about how to best bring those beavers under control.
Still, you wish no ill will toward your log-pulling dam-building furry flat-tailed friends, which is why you’ll want to take heed of this guide to removing beavers from building dams on your property.
1 – Knowing What’s Legal
Before we get started with stopping beavers, however, let’s stop ourselves and consider the legal situation. Beavers are nice, kind animals, they do a lot of good work for the environment, and if you do indeed live in Oregon, Washington State, or Canada, they’re a symbol of regional or national pride.
In most states and circumstances, you can’t just shoot a beaver – nor should you want to do so. There are plenty of wildlife control agencies that can help you remove them in a safe and humane way.
The key strategy advocated by organizations such as Wildlife Removal USA is making the area in which you wish beavers to be gone no longer hospitable to them. Beavers love areas where they have access to water and can build dams from wood. Cut off one or both of these prerequisites (at least temporarily) and there’s a good chance beavers will leave on their own.
So let’s talk about how to set up your own No Beaver Zone.
2 – Sprays and Repellents
This is one of the most hit or miss methods of ridding yourself of beavers.
Being wild animals, beavers are naturally attracted to and repelled by certain scents. Spraying an area with something that doesn’t “smell good” to a beaver is a good way to make them move on.
That being said, just as insecticides are designed to harm bugs, some sprays may harm beavers. You definitely don’t want to harm the beavers, which means you have to be extra careful when employing this method.
What’s more, there’s no guaranteeing you might not wrinkle your nose at the area you’ve just sprayed with anti-beaver spray yourself. Sure, getting rid of beavers may be important for preserving land in your backyard or near your home, but are you really going to want to go there if it stinks?
Besides, sprays eventually wear off, at which point the beavers may come back.
Sprays – assuming you don’t mind their smell – may thus be a short-term solution for stopping beavers from building dams, but they’re just one piece of a larger dam-busting beaver-banishing puzzle.
3 – Building a Fence Around Water Sources
Let’s say that you’ve already tried that spray-based solution or turned up your nose at it entirely. Thankfully, you can also prevent beavers from building dams by simply separating them from the water supply where they build them – in essence, damming the site on your own terms. Of course, humans have a different understanding of water engineering and irrigation than beavers do, so you can still wall off the site to beavers while still building pipes or other ways for the water to flow beneath, allowing it to reach where it needs to be.
For example, you can build a trapezoidal chain link fence. As long as the metal is strong enough, the beavers shouldn’t be able to chew through or scale it, and the water can still slip through to your side. Triangular meshes can also be a good idea and work similarly.
That said, both of these can rust in winter, so you’ll want to remove them when necessary.
Removable pull guards can also be a good idea, allowing you to put it in place when it’s necessary to keep beavers out and removing it again when they’re not around so as to let the water flow unimpeded.
Is there a tunnel or pipe through which beavers typically travel on your property? Blocking it up with a mesh protector can help keep them out. Alternatively, you can build mesh fencing on either side of this tunnel, allowing water to sift through to either side while keeping beavers away from both entrances.
4 – Trunk Guards
If blocking off the waterways where beavers operate isn’t a solution, you might consider fencing off the trunk instead. The underlying logic of this overarching strategy is clear. If beavers can’t get the wood they need for their dams, they’ll move to another area that has an abundance of wood.
One easy way to do this is by creating galvanized welded wire fences of about three feet high. This should be high enough to keep the beavers from scaling the fence while still being low enough to allow you access to the rest of the tree with ease.
One of the nice things about this option is that galvanized steel and fences made from them are pretty common. If you can’t find the special meshes necessary for the aforementioned solutions regarding tunnels and holes, these can be a good, common, cost-effective alternative.
That said, you really should stick to galvanized steel. Chicken wire, for example, is too light, and beavers can bite right through it. In addition, you may need to pin the trees to the ground to keep them in place.
Mulching can help keep the area weed-free.
5 – A Sandy Solution
If none of those alternatives have appealed to you and you have a lot of sand on hand, you may have a way of thwarting those busy beavers yet.
Take some sand and coat the base of the tree with it, up and down the tree trunk and on any other parts where beavers might chew. Beavers don’t tend to like a gritty taste of sand in their mouths (who would?) making this an especially effective deterrent.
For the best results, you’ll want to use about 8 oz of sand mixed together with a quart of paint and brush over the area in question.
One thing to note – younger trees that are shorter than six feet tall can be more sensitive than their fully-grown counterparts, so you’ll want to avoid this measure with them, as it can cause lasting harm.
Beavers are a lovely species, but that doesn’t mean you have to love everything they can do to your property. That said, taking aggressive or even lethal measures against them is both cruel and unnecessary. Thankfully, by following the more humane measures outlined above, you can stop beavers from building dams in the area while keeping them safe, happy, and allowing them to go about their beaver business elsewhere.