The Beaver - Ennemy or Ally
The Beaver - an Ally?
A growing number of scientists and environmentalists consider the beaver a valuable ally in the battle to improve our environment. A very interesting documentary aired on the CBC's "The Nature of Things" clearly illustrates this point. To view it, click here.
When the Beaver doesn't Cooperate
Some members have experienced problems with beavers' taking down lakeside trees. In such instances, you might consider taking preventative action by protecting the trunks of your favourite trees with galvanized mesh fencing. Such fencing should be wide enough to allow for tree trunk growth, be secured to the ground to prevent the beaver from pushing it out of the way, and be high enough to deter the beaver from chewing above it (about a meter to prevent winter snacking).
You might also try using abrasive tree paint for other than saplings (see below for recipe) or an aversive taste repellent (eg: vegetable or mineral oil infused with cayenne pepper). If such defensive measures aren't sufficient, check with the Municipal Inspector before considering any more aggressive action. Remember that beavers – as furbearing animals – are protected under federal and provincial law.
The following is the recipe1 for abrasive paint:
- Paint: exterior latex (choose a color to match the bark)
- Mason sand: 30 mil or 70 mil
- Formula: mix 5 oz of sand per quart of paint, or 20 oz of sand per gallon of paint, or 150 grams of sand per liter of paint
It is advisable to make only small batches of the paint at a time on the day you are going to apply it. Using too much sand will cause the mixture to roll off the tree. Apply paint to the bottom three to four feet of the tree trunk. For best results, do not paint every tree; leave some for beaver food. This formula does not work for saplings, so protect them with wire fencing. To reduce the conspicuousness of the repellent, it is usually possible to get the paint tinted to match the colour of the tree if you bring a sample of the tree bark to your local hardware store.
How to Control Problem Beavers and Dismantle Beaver Dams
As stated in the Best Practicies Guide of the Quebec Ministry of Wildlife and Natural Resources2, beavers are found in most areas of Quebec. The beaver is well known for its ability to alter the landscape and the flow of water by building dams. Periodically, these dams can threaten man-made infrastructure or flood private land. To mitigate the impact of beaver dams, it may be necessary to take preventative measures and - sometimes - to relocate, frighten away, or even eliminate problem beavers and destroy their dams.
The Best Practices Guide on How to Control Problem Beavers and Dismantle Beaver Dams provides information on how to proceed. However, care must be exercised when taking such action as doing so can modify fish habitat, adversely affect downstream property owners, and destroy wildlife habitat and human property.
- the English translation of the guide, click here;
- the accompanying decision guide, click here;
- the original French version, click here.
The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources offers an interesting fact sheet on the issue of living with beavers. Among other things, it provides some suggestions on how to prevent and handle a conflict with beavers. To view this fact sheet, click here.
1 Source - The Cottager's Guide to Beavers, 15 April 2011 (http://thecottagersguidetobeavers.blogspot.ca/2011/04/how-to-deal-with-beavers-that-destroy.html)