Dealing With Beavers
In many situations, removal of beavers and their structures is neither desirable nor cost-effective. Furthermore, it is difficult to prevent beavers from colonizing suitable habitat. Attempts to discourage beaver colonization in areas of high beaver density are usually ineffective.

A long-term approach may be to eliminate potential food sources for beavers near suitable aquatic habitat, for example, plant spruce or pine in riparian areas. However, beavers often cut aspen trees 100-150 yards from water. Furthermore, this option does not solve immediate drainage problems caused by beaver ponds.
Figure 26. The Clemson Beaver Pond Leveler is a low-cost, low-maintenance solution. (Redrawn from Wood et al. 1994, p. 2)
Figure 26. The Clemson Beaver Pond Leveler is a low-cost, low-maintenance solution. (Redrawn from Wood et al. 1994, p. 2)
There are no registered, practical, effective, environmentally safe chemical toxicants, biological control agents, aversive agents, fumigants, or repellents available for specific use against beavers (D’Eon et al. 1995).

Removal of dams, lodges, or both, is probably the most used, but least effective method of discouraging beavers. The usual response is a repaired dam or lodge by the following day (Buech 1985).

Live-trapping and relocating beavers is expensive. It is also difficult because another site that is not already inhabited is usually difficult to find. Some States have trapping programs, but these are generally small programs and should not be depended upon to solve a local landowner’s problems. Should the decision be made to trap or shoot beavers, contact your State natural resources agency for rules and regulations, which may vary from State to State.
Figure 27. The Clemson Beaver Pond Leveler helps solve plugging of road culverts, as well as filling of stand pipes and culverts used as water control structures. (Redrawn from Wood et al. 1994, p. 3)
Figure 27. The Clemson Beaver Pond Leveler helps solve plugging of road culverts, as well as filling of stand pipes and culverts used as water control structures. (Redrawn from Wood et al. 1994, p. 3)
Installation of water control devices is worth considering if some degree of elevated water is tolerable. This is especially true where water crossings are degraded or annual maintenance costs are high as a result of beaver activity. In addition to economic considerations, many landowners want to maintain beavers on their property.

Figure 28. The Clemson Beaver Pond Leveler can easily be constructed of common building materials and installed the same day. (Redrawn from Wood
Figure 28. The Clemson Beaver Pond Leveler can easily be constructed of common building materials and installed the same day. (Redrawn from Wood et al. 1994, p. 3-4)
In such cases, water control devices designed for use in areas where beavers are active can effectively give landowners control of water levels in spite of beaver activity. However, when using water control devices to solve beaver problems, fish passage should be considered.

Culverts constrict water flow and provide good locations for beavers to create impoundments with minimal effort. Beavers will enter culverts and often plug the inside with sticks, rocks, and mud. This creates a difficult problem, that is, keeping the culverts free-flowing. To prevent beavers from entering a culvert, a screen mesh or grill can be placed on the upstream end of the culvert. Beavers will use the mesh or grill as a framework for building a dam and block water flow. The advantage of these devices is that it is easier to remove mud and sticks from outside the culvert than from the inside; however, meshes and grills still require cleaning and maintenance (Buech 1985).

There are many different designs for culvert meshes and grills. Prices for these devices range from a few dollars to several thousand. There are also numerous devices to reduce road damage from the activities of beavers. One such device, the Clemson Beaver Pond Leveler, has been used in the southern States since 1987, and has proven successful (Figures 26 and 27) (Wood et al. 1994). This low cost, low maintenance solution is being used by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. To date it has stood up well under the icy conditions of the North.
The Clemson Beaver Pond Leveler can be constructed of common building materials that can be obtained at local building and plumbing supply stores for about $350 (Figure 28). Two people can construct a Leveler in 2 to 3 hours and install the device at the site within 2 hours. Clemson University has made a video on construction and installation of this leveler, which can be purchased from Clemson University Communications Center. The title is “Beaver Pond Leveler: One Solution.” The address is: Clemson University Communications Center, 83 Poole Agricultural Center, Clemson, South Carolina 29634-5607.
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