DNR Offers Advice to People Dealing With Beavers

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Beavers build damsThe largest member of the rodent family, the beaver is an active woodcutter and dam builder. But when beaver populations get too high, they cause problems by cutting down valuable trees and flooding roads and property with their dams.

Although the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) sets trapping seasons and limits on beaver, the agency no longer controls problem beavers. However, DNR wildlife managers and hydrologists offer advice to landowners dealing with beavers.

Beavers are protected animals under Minnesota game and fish laws. That means people need a license or permit to kill them. However, if a beaver is causing damage to property, a landowner, manager or occupant can kill the beaver on their land. They do not need a license or permit as long as they contact a DNR conservation officer within 24 hours of the taking.

The taking cannot involve the use of poison, artificial lights or a motor vehicle. Most people use firearms or traps to take beaver. However, firearms are not legal everywhere, especially in more urban areas. In these areas, the taking may be restricted to trapping.

Landowners have the option of hiring a beaver trapper to provide this service. Local wildlife managers and conservation officers can provide names of local trappers. The USDA Wildlife Services does complaint trapping for a fee.

Beaver dams have no special protection under state law. Property owners can remove dams from their own land as long as the removal doesn’t involve excavating a lake or streambed using something like a dragline or backhoe. Such excavation requires a public waters work permit, which is available from the DNR. If the beaver dam is on another person’s land, landowner’s permission is required before entering those lands to remove the dam.

If the beaver dam has been in place for many years and affects other property owners, DNR officials recommend contacting the landowners about removal. If lakeshore and water levels have been developed and maintained in a certain way because beavers have controlled an outlet for many years, a DNR hydrologist should be contacted before the dam is removed.

People can discourage beaver damage by wrapping trees with protective hardware cloth. There is also a simple, low-cost device called the Clemson Beaver Pond that allows water to flow through a beaver dam. The DNR offers plans on how to make and install this device.

For information, contact a DNR conservation officer, wildlife manager or area hydrologist. Staff phone numbers and more information about beavers are available from the DNR Information Center at (651) 296-6157 or toll free 1-888-MINNDNR (646-6367) or www.mndnr.gov.