Beaver can create both habitat, headaches

Lots of rain combined with low fur prices and a downward trend in the number of people trapping has the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources fielding numerous calls about growing beaver populations and the problems they sometimes create.
But while beaver can be a nuisance, causing tree damage and flooding, they also provide benefits by creating wetland habitat. And because they’re a protected animal under Minnesota law, DNR wildlife managers remind property owners to make sure they’re following the rules when dealing with them.
“We want property owners to know that if they’re having problems with beaver, there are steps they can take to get relief, but there also are processes that need to followed,” said Jami Markle, assistant regional wildlife manager for DNR’s central region. “Every situation is a bit different, so it’s really a good idea to check with your local conservation officer or wildlife manager.”
Landowners can protect individual trees from beaver's gnawing teeth by putting hardware cloth around the base of the tree to a height of at least 30 inches. Electric fencing may be an option for larger areas.
Problems caused by flooding tend to be more complex. In some cases, water levels in the beaver pond can be lowered by installing a special device known as a Clemson beaver pond leveler. Often, though, eliminating water problems caused by beaver means eliminating the beavers. DNR encourages removal of beaver during the open trapping season (typically the last Saturday in October through mid-May). DNR area conservation officers and area wildlife managers may have names of experienced trappers to trap beaver for others.
“Trapping can play an important role in managing populations of animals like beaver, and minimizing human-wildlife conflicts,” Markle said. “When fur prices decline, though, there can be a drop-off in trapping, too, and that can lead to more nuisance beaver problems.”
If problems can’t wait until trapping season, Minnesota law allows a landowner or occupant to kill the beaver that are causing damage on their own land by trapping or shooting.
Removing beaver on someone else’s land, even if they’re causing damage on your property, requires the other landowner’s permission. As the result of a recent law change, a landowner/occupant also can enlist the help of someone else to do the removal. People do not need a license or permit to remove beaver that are causing damage from their own land, but they must contact a conservation officer or a DNR wildlife official within 24 hours after the animal is killed. Trapping beaver and relocating them is not legal in Minnesota without a DNR permit. The DNR itself does not trap or otherwise participate in beaver removal efforts, except as part of the management of state lands.
Once beaver have been eliminated, the dam that’s causing the flooding may be removed with a permit from the regional wildlife manager. If it’s on someone else’s property, permission is needed. The person removing the dam may also need a DNR waters permit, especially if the beaver dam controls the outlet to a lake and impacts the ordinary high water (OHW) level. Contact a DNR area hydrologist for more information.
“Beaver are nature’s original water managers,” Markle said. “In the right place at the right time, they provide numerous ecological benefits. But in the wrong place, they can be a real headache. By knowing what their options are and working with the DNR, landowners can develop plans to embrace the benefits, but address the problems.”

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR