Despite being our national symbol, the beaver is commonly perceived to be a nuisance, which is an especially troubling misperception. Not only are beavers family-oriented, monogamous animals whose demonstrable intelligence astounds scientists around the world, they also offer us vital ecosystem services.
So why do people become frustrated with beavers?
Flooding: Beavers create dams to protect their families from predators like coyotes, wolves and bears. Occasionally, these dams can block water flow and cause flooding, most notably after heavy rain or snow creates water that has nowhere to go.
Damage to trees: While it is quite common for damage to be noticed right away, it is not always before a tree or two may have been lost, resulting in frustration from homeowners and municipalities.
What is typically done in response?
Often these issues result in municipalities hiring trappers to kill families of beavers. And while lethal trapping may seem effective, it is only a short-term solution. More beavers will soon return to the area to fill the open niche. This is an especially tragic decision because there are many cost-effective, non-lethal options to prevent flooding from beaver dams and to help control tree-chewing. These non-lethal approaches, in addition to respecting beavers, values the vital ecosystem services beavers provide for our environment.
Photo: Beaver. Critter Care Wildlife Society