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Beaver Problem

 
Posts: 64
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Hello,

A piece of land I am considering purchasing has a problem with a family of beavers. They have blocked the stream and flooded a lot of the good flat land. I know that in BC Canada you can get a permit to trap them, and maybe get a permit to install beaver proof pipes into their dam, which would drain out too much water and lower the level of the water their dam created, and cause them to find the new level of water unsuitable.

Does anyone have any experience with this? The land is 80 acres, and I need a stream, not a floodplain.

Advice, please!
 
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Hi Lana,

When I read this, it made me sad. I’m from the UK and we killed off all our native beavers hundreds of years ago and then fuelled the desire for pelts in North America. Today, the UK is reintroducing beavers and last weekend my sister took her kids to a new wetland area created for free by beavers. Within three years, what was degraded farmland is now a thriving sanctuary for wildlife including pollinators.

I now live in New Jersey. Our town experienced 8 inches of rain in one hour. The river burst it’s banks, many homes were flooded. Every shop on the main high street was inundated with silt and four feet of water.

The river flows through a woodland area. The damage would have been lessened if we had beavers. But this is NJ and the people just want more concrete, which is expensive, polluting, requires mining and release of massive amounts of carbon. A few weeks ago, I visited a town in upstate New York where they’re actively encouraging beavers to mitigate the increase in extreme weather events due to climate change. Beavers work for free.

So rather than a Beaver problem, I see a climate change solution. From what I’ve seen of beaver dams in the wild, they create incredibly rich habitats with huge diversity. If you’re looking at 80 acres, what percentage would the beavers flood? Could you work the beavers into a permaculture plan, look at them as an asset? What impact would removing the beavers have on settlements down stream? How would it effect the water course and increased erosion? Look for a different plot of land? How about ducks, watercress, fish, aquaculture . . .

So not the answer you were looking for and I’m sure that there are enough diverse opinions here that someone will suggest an answer in line with your initial question. Good luck with your hunt for land - BC is an amazing place.
 
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If I were considering purchasing this land I would learn to co-exist with the beavers.  This land has been their home probably for many years.

Does BC Canada have a program to rehome beavers?

Many of our members want to attract beavers to their land.  You might enjoy this thread even though you can attend the program, it explains a need for beavers:

https://permies.com/t/169673/Nov-Beaver-Landscape-Evening-Dr Emily Fairfax

Here are a few other threads that you might find interesting:

https://permies.com/t/29036/Managing-beavers-beaver-ponds-organic

https://permies.com/t/152929/Coexisting-beavers

https://permies.com/t/29120/Beavers-Store-Water-Dodge-Water

 
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Alas, I'm going to be another vote in favour of finding a way to use the beavers as an asset, rather than seeing them as a liability.
Are you in BC's interior? Water shortage and fires are increasing there due to a lack of beavers and too much monoculture.  I would look at your land and figure out good places for them, and consider shifting them on your land rather than removing them as a first step.

If you gave us some ideas of what you want to do with the land, that might help with suggestions.

My first thought was: If the land is fairly flat where the beavers are damming, can you "unflatten" it by making a "chinampa" system: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinampa
My second thought was: If they're flooding flat land beside a "stream" that sounds like "flood plain" to me. Just because it hasn't flooded in recent memory, with the weather weirding we're having, it may flood when you don't want it to.
My third thought was to actually dig them a pond - beavers respond to the sound of moving water - if you give them a deeper area that their dam efforts will flood, and use a beaver-baffle to keep a water level you can both live with, you might be able to create a lot of useful "edge" and live cooperatively together.
 
Lana Berticevich
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Edward Norton wrote:Hi Lana,

When I read this, it made me sad. I’m from the UK and we killed off all our native beavers hundreds of years ago and then fuelled the desire for pelts in North America. Today, the UK is reintroducing beavers and last weekend my sister took her kids to a new wetland area created for free by beavers. Within three years, what was degraded farmland is now a thriving sanctuary for wildlife including pollinators.



Hi Edward,

Thank you for your reply. I posted this thread late last night and I know that my seeing Beavers as a problem comes from all my prior knowledge about life, and not from the new permaculture ways I am learning.

I am grateful for everyone's comments, and I now feel a lot better about buying this property with the beavers. I was planning on building our house on the hill anyway. And now I have lots of ideas for giving the beavers the fast growing wood they like, and things to do to keep them from my orchard trees and the trees I'm going to use for bio-char fuel.
Whew! Yes I can co-exist with them, I just had to change my focus.

:)
 
Edward Norton
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Wow Lana - I’m so happy! I really was in two minds about posting. You sounded so sure that beavers were a problem. Good luck with the purchase and please come back and let us know how you get on and how your plans work out.
 
Jay Angler
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Lana Berticevich wrote:

...things to do to keep them from my orchard trees and the trees I'm going to use for bio-char fuel.  Whew! Yes I can co-exist with them, I just had to change my focus.

Hmmm... I've seen some pretty impressive piles of chips from beavers chopping down trees that would be great for turning into biochar - Nature's chipper/shredder - so you may find them assisting you in unexpected ways!
 
Lana Berticevich
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I'm so glad you think they might assist me - I'll take whatever they give. :)

 
pollinator
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I am in BC (Vancouver Island) and deal with this at times when dealing with "problem" wildlife. Feel free to contact me directly.

Removal is, generally, a short term solution. Usually within 1-2yrs another family will move in. Google Beaver Baffles. Basically this involves installing a long pipe through the dam. This eliminates ever growing pond size while keeping these useful creatures content. By useful I mean where they dam is usually locations that could/would experience regular seasonal (flash) flooding episodes. One must assume, even if removed, their location could be subject to serious, potentially life threatening, damage with seasonal flooding.

The pipe regulates flow, but as beavers detect "leaks" by sound AT the dam. When extended far from the dam, the pipe is not viewed as a leak and is ignored. The key is the outflow of the pipe must never be in danger of breaching the surface of the water - this will activate their "plug the leak" instinct.

As an aside, vaccinate dogs etc., who may drink or swim in the water, for Giardia (Beaver fever).  Further, protect all "wanted" trees with metal or mesh collars, 3 feet high to ensure valuable trees are not harvested.

A little beaver 101: kits stay for two years before getting the "boot". They are "toddlers" their first year, "teenagers" their second year where they act as teachers and "babysitters". In BC the 2yr olds seem to get kicked out around February (on the island) and either fall or spring elsewhere. The parents "own" the territory until they decide to abandon it when food sources run dry.

A beaver found on or in saltwater is at high risk of death due to salt water intoxication and must be treated at a wildlife rescue center if there is any hope for survival. Commonly this occurs when youngsters get "washed downstream" during a very heavy rain event.

There is a subspecies called the Mountain beaver who have very different habits with a tendency to KEEP the family together, thru adulthood, running more of an enclave or clan. In this case you would see multiple houses on a single pond, with groupings over ten and as high as 25. I do not personally have much experience with them or their habits.

I am SO pleased you now see ways to successfully co-habit and appreciate their value! Good Luck on your new endeavors!!!
 
Lana Berticevich
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Lorrine, thank you so very much for your insight. I have been reading the book: The Beaver Restoration Guidebook, and I am learning a lot about Beavers.

My sister and two of my daughters live on Vancouver Island, and also Vancouver Island is where I am getting my Oberhasli goats and khaki Campbell ducks in Spring 2022.

I used to live on the island, and moved away in 2012 due to a lack of work and 4 children to feed. Alberta has been good to me, that is until this pandemic. I thought I might be able to keep my job, until softwood lumber prices skyrocketed and I lost my job as it was directly related to the mat production plants the company I worked for owned. I did the financial statements for those mat plants, and costing of mats. I worked there for 8 years.

I am selling my house and plan on returning to my home province. I love BC and I know that it might seem a little late to start homesteading, as I'm 49 and my fiancee is 51, however this is the way I want to spend the next 50 or 100 years, or however long I am alive.

Caring for wildlife sounds like an amazing job.

I will do what I can to protect my livestock, my dogs, our gardens and the trees I want to keep. I'll plant those willows, cottonwood, and any other fast growing trees for the Beavers.

Beaver fever - I read about that and I will make sure that my animals are vaccinated against that, as much as I am not in favour of most vaccines.

Again, thank you for your thoughts. I appreciate it.  
 
Lana Berticevich
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Jay Angler wrote:Alas, I'm going to be another vote in favour of finding a way to use the beavers as an asset, rather than seeing them as a liability.
Are you in BC's interior? Water shortage and fires are increasing there due to a lack of beavers and too much monoculture.  I would look at your land and figure out good places for them, and consider shifting them on your land rather than removing them as a first step.

If you gave us some ideas of what you want to do with the land, that might help with suggestions.

My first thought was: If the land is fairly flat where the beavers are damming, can you "unflatten" it by making a "chinampa" system: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinampa
My second thought was: If they're flooding flat land beside a "stream" that sounds like "flood plain" to me. Just because it hasn't flooded in recent memory, with the weather weirding we're having, it may flood when you don't want it to.
My third thought was to actually dig them a pond - beavers respond to the sound of moving water - if you give them a deeper area that their dam efforts will flood, and use a beaver-baffle to keep a water level you can both live with, you might be able to create a lot of useful "edge" and live cooperatively together.



Thank you for linking to info about Chinampa - that looks very interesting and do-able, however if my gardens are so close to the Beavers, how do I make sure they don't snack on my produce?

I like the idea to dig the "pond deeper". Would this be considered altering the creek bed though? I do believe that you are not allowed to disturb creek beds, or disturb them as little as possible and I might get into trouble for this.

The property I'm looking at is in southern BC near Trail & Fruitvale BC. I had planned on creating quite a few ponds on the property anyway, for irrigation and for fire suppression. I just hadn't planned on sharing my ponds with Beavers. All good though, as long as they keep out of my ponds, then I'll leave theirs to them (other than possibly digging it deeper).

My plan for the land is a lot of things, including: an orchard (permaculture tree guild type of orchard), gardens for vegetables, herbs and flowers, also chickens, ducks, geese, milk goats, pigs, and eventually sheep. A house based on Mike Oehler's ideas. Greenhouses. Ponds. Trees that grow fast, trees that are poop eaters. Fruit and nut trees in the orchard.

I don't know where the Beavers are on the land. Satellite imagery doesn't show them. I see the creek though, and they are somewhere on that. I will plan to do all my plants and animals as far from the beavers as I can manage, within reason. The creek runs across the bottom third of the 80 acres and I need a lot of the acreage to do pastured sheep, goats, chickens, pigs.

Tell me if I'm missing anything:
1. Dig the pond deeper, if regulations allow it
2. Chinampa gardening
3. Installing a beaver pipe (Beaver Baffles) below the surface of the water to drain a bit of the pond and prevent seasonal flooding
4. Planting trees they like: willow, cottonwood, poplar - plant a lot down where I want them to stay.
5. Vaccinating animals that might drink from the beaver pond against "beaver fever"
6. Protecting trees with wire fencing

 
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Don't discount the sheer entertainment value of watching beavers do their thing. One of my most memorable experiences as a kid was getting to explore an area around an active beaver dam. Fascinating creatures that change the environment in positive ways at an epic scale.

Passive income idea - make videos of beavers doing beaver stuff & post them to YouTube to earn some coin.

It seems to be working for this guy:
 
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To provide a different perspective, I lived in beaver country for a few years. My observations are that unless you are willing and able to kill off every beaver in the region, they will find new ways to return. The most noteworthy incident I saw was when a farmer drained a beaver pond. They moved to another area and flooded 30 miles of state highway overnight.  Yes, that left the farmer isolated for a while. His neighbors were pretty unhappy with him as well.

You may want to see if you can contour the land near the pond to reduce the impact on the surrounding property.  
 
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I watched a video on YouTube a while back.in which the man had a beaver problem,he looked thing's over.he ended up digging out a part of the beaver dam.then placed 3-4 inch drain pipes at a hight he figured to be right for the beavers.they rebuilt that part of their dam.in the end.the beavers and the man are happy.and he got his backyard back.
 
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Enjoy your beavers!  I would love to have some for the overall improvement in habitiat on my property.

Apologies if someone has already directed you to it, but “Leave It To Beavers” is a great documentary about the critters.  Pretty sure it is still available on YouTube.

Happy trails!
 
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We have neighbors up in arms over beavers but I get a thrill every time I see them!  They really are so adorable & other than occasionally causing blockage to our "people dam", which can flood our little road, they never cause a problem.   We stuck climbing things into a tall tree so our son can climb up & observe them.  We have binoculars by the best window as well.  Another fun site is "Justin Beaver".  A lady rehabbed an injured beaver and he lives in their home. He regularly takes baths and he rolls up their rugs and drags them around like logs. It's the cutest thing ever.
 
Lana Berticevich
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Keith Kuhnsman wrote:Enjoy your beavers!  I would love to have some for the overall improvement in habitiat on my property.

Apologies if someone has already directed you to it, but “Leave It To Beavers” is a great documentary about the critters.  Pretty sure it is still available on YouTube.

Happy trails!



Hi Keith,

You are the only one who directed me to that video that I can see. It was a really good documentary. Wow. People who pay for someone to bring them relocated Beavers. And the awesome work they do if directed a little bit.

I enjoyed the video where a park in Quebec, Canada tried trapping and killing the beavers and then decided to try encouraging them to build their dams elsewhere in the park. A music player that played running water! What a great idea. And steel posts blocking them from the culverts.

So much information about what great engineers they are. And interesting that of all the wild animals, when they need rescue, they actually need to have a lot of handling while they are recovering, because they are such family oriented critters.

I'm getting excited to "meet" them soon. Just 8 more days! :)
 
Lana Berticevich
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Karon Czekala wrote:We have neighbors up in arms over beavers but I get a thrill every time I see them!  They really are so adorable & other than occasionally causing blockage to our "people dam", which can flood our little road, they never cause a problem.   We stuck climbing things into a tall tree so our son can climb up & observe them.  We have binoculars by the best window as well.  Another fun site is "Justin Beaver".  A lady rehabbed an injured beaver and he lives in their home. He regularly takes baths and he rolls up their rugs and drags them around like logs. It's the cutest thing ever.



Karen, that sounds awesome - the tree your son can observe them from. I might have to build something like that so I can observe them from a distance too.
A beaver as a house pet?  Wow.
 
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This is great
 
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Hi Lana,

If I was in your shoes, like a lot of the recommendations on this thread, I would try to find solutions that work for you and your beaver friends. I believe that there will be more benefits to finding a balance with the beavers and less work and inputs than it would be to try to remove the beavers and their dams.

I have had several jobs in which I was either removing small dams or opening up small holes in the dams to temporarily increase water flows through the dam. It seems to be that beavers are extremely hard workers and they will have the majority of the dam rebuilt by the morning, although I as making relatively small impacts to the dams.

If you do decide that you would like to remove the dams and beavers, depending on the population size in the area, I believe you would spend a fair amount of effort either trapping or hunting beavers to reduce their numbers as well the time involved in ripping out the initial and subsequent rebuilt dams.

Regardless of what you decide to do I wish you the best of luck going forward!

-Todd
 
Jay Angler
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Any idea how your property faired during the latest weather fun in BC? You may be so lucky to have functioning beavers - we need them to help fix the underlying issues that allow water to run off too fast and and fast water is far more damaging than slow water.

For example, think if most farms had 2 or 3 beaver dams with beaver baffle water height controls installed. The forecast suggests heavy rain is coming, so you artificially lower the water level behind the dams by enough to be helpful, but not enough to tick off the beavers too badly. The rain comes, but the first 50 mm or more just goes to topping the ponds back up. What was a flood level 3 days of heavy rain, has been spread out over a longer period.

My field is supersaturated, but the winter creek only overflowed for the one day following the particularly high rain on the 3rd day. My ecosystem isn't likely to have the kind of flooding that's happened in many parts of the province, but there are still some changes I need to make to help it be more resilient in the weather we experienced last weekend.
 
Lana Berticevich
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Jay Angler wrote:Any idea how your property faired during the latest weather fun in BC? You may be so lucky to have functioning beavers - we need them to help fix the underlying issues that allow water to run off too fast and and fast water is far more damaging than slow water.

For example, think if most farms had 2 or 3 beaver dams with beaver baffle water height controls installed. The forecast suggests heavy rain is coming, so you artificially lower the water level behind the dams by enough to be helpful, but not enough to tick off the beavers too badly. The rain comes, but the first 50 mm or more just goes to topping the ponds back up. What was a flood level 3 days of heavy rain, has been spread out over a longer period.

My field is supersaturated, but the winter creek only overflowed for the one day following the particularly high rain on the 3rd day. My ecosystem isn't likely to have the kind of flooding that's happened in many parts of the province, but there are still some changes I need to make to help it be more resilient in the weather we experienced last weekend.



I think that the property did ok during the latest fun weather in BC. We went to look at it a week ago and sure, it was flooded, but that's from the Beavers dam. The person who built the road to connect the property from one side to the other did not put culverts in, so the road is flooded. It made it hard to see all the property.
Thanks for the ideas, yes - we thought about some ways to fix the problem - by taking down the dam and putting in culverts - knowing the beavers would build it back up in a day, so the day is all we would get to install the culverts. We could divert the beavers to a different area, using a recording of water flowing like they did in the Quebec park in a video posted somewhere above, but we would have to do a really good analysis to see where that should be.
Beaver Baffles - yes, that is in the plan too.
Yet now we are thinking that this property is not for us, because the two roads going through the property are too narrow and too rough to bring in our temporary house (a 32' travel trailer). One road has a 90 degree turn around a fence. The fence is to contain the Transfer station that is sitting smack dab between the two roads. The Transfer station is sitting a few kms from the hydro-electric dam which we drove by to get to the property for sale,  and this electricity station has three lines running in different directions. A LOT of buzzing energy, and I don't like it.
So to make this property work for us - we would have to widen all the roads. Flatten the roads. Install culverts in the lower connection road. Create a flat spot for the camper trailer. And we would have to do it before we bring the camper trailer to the property, unless we pay to camp somewhere for a few months.
I think that there has to be a better property out there for me and my family.
If this property is still for sale in a month or two, we'll offer a significantly lower amount than they are asking and see what happens. It's only bad for us if we have to pay their asking price. If we can get $100 to $150k knocked off the price we would buy it.
There has to be a better way to buy an acreage without a lot of money, that isn't inaccessible. I'm going to start getting a list of foreclosure properties from a courthouse near where I want to live and see if I can find a nice acreage that way. I was just talking to someone on the weekend who did just that.

It's ok. I'll find the property that's right for me.

 
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