Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by minnikin1, Dec 14, 2006.

  1. minnikin1

    minnikin1 Shepherd

    Feb 3, 2003
    Central NY
    Our new farm has a growing beaver pond and colony, and we are trying to learn more about these neighbors of ours.

    Funny how often folks respond by telling us how to get rid of them.. but these aren't in a place that bothers us and we like the pond they made...we love to watch them.

    So we want to encourage them to stay and we want to enjoy their company. We're wondering if there are folks out there who could mentor us as we try to become more interactive with the beavers.
    We also want to ensure their food source doesn't run out.

    We were thinking about duckweed for the beavers (and our poultry).
    anyone have comments or insights for us???
  2. fantasymaker

    fantasymaker Well-Known Member

    Aug 28, 2005
    IL, right smack dab in the middle
    I dont think bever are a real duckweed sorta critter.but I think hauling home branch trimmings might help extend the life of the woods around them.

  3. Bret

    Bret Well-Known Member Supporter

    Oct 3, 2003
    I learned recently that beavers are a keystone animal. When they move in, they make it possible for many other creatures and plants to live that will benefit from. Most people want to get rid of them. But I too, was excited to think that we may have beavers again on our place.

    They will not over populate your land because when there are too many, the little ones are run off and they may have travel a long ways to find a safe place and the right place. An area will only support a few and they are programmed to know how many that is.

    They will cut down some trees, but if I remember right this makes it possible for new trees to get a start at a much higher rate then before...maybe four to one.

    The beavers will be your mentors if you allow them to. If they start backing up so much water that they cause a problem for other nearby property owners and farmers, someone is going to let you know. Keep an eye on them and have fun.
  4. fantasymaker

    fantasymaker Well-Known Member

    Aug 28, 2005
    IL, right smack dab in the middle
    As a keystone animal theyand what they do are protected in some areas.....pretty good status for a big wet rat!
  5. texican

    texican Well-Known Member

    Oct 3, 2003
    Carthage, Texas
    Don't worry about em, if they get hungry, they'll eat any kind of tree, and the younger ones will move on to new territory.

    I was so excited when beavers came back to this part of Texas, after being wiped out 150 years ago... then several moved into my lake. Woohoo... maybe they'd take care of the weed trees (willows) trying to take over. Welllll...they'd nibble on em here and there, but what they really loved were my cypress saplings... loved em to death. Then the ancient hardwoods... then the pine trees... weed trees were the last thing they'd touch. Still halfway cool with that... till they started denning in my dam... that cost me two years gross earnings... and when the 700' long 40' tall dam (100' above my home) was threatened with destruction... well I took off my rose colored glasses and realized beavers are just 80lb rats...

    Still love em...they just can't live here... got other places they're more'n welcome...

    they might eat duckweed or even cattails, but they MUST have trees to chomp on... their teeth continually grow, and if they don't have something to wear em down, they'll die from 'lockjaw', or whatever you'd wanna call it....
  6. DocM

    DocM Well-Known Member

    Oct 18, 2006
    NW OR
    Beavers are nasty animals, but I've lived with them for a couple of decades. They'll eat what they want and ignore your offerings. What they want may not please you. One year it was my new apple trees, another year it was a maple with a 6' base (they only succeeded in killing it, they didn't get it down, a case of biting off more than you can chew). They are not colony animals, the babies will be kicked out to go find their own mates and build more dams. And the problem, er, joy grows.
  7. fishhead

    fishhead Well-Known Member Supporter

    Jul 19, 2006
    northcentral MN
    If there is a waterflow through the pond you can install a Clemson Leveler to maintain the water level without it getting too high and drowning the trees.

    Then to protect the trees you want to keep loosely wrap the trunks in hardware cloth.

    Properly managed a beaver pond can be kept alive for decades. That may mean trapping 2-3 of the younger beaver each year to keep the colony from getting too large for the food base.

    Beaver meat is like good beef.
  8. hunter63

    hunter63 Well-Known Member

    Jan 4, 2005
    Wisconsin.. Zone 5
    Have had a problem with them at my place on the river, chewing down big maples along the river bank. Not so much lately.
    Thought you might want to see this, got it several years ago: Don't send me the "snopes "website telling me it is a fake, don't care it was funny.

    Subject: Beavers vs Govt

    Dam response

    This is an actual letter sent to a man named Ryan DeVries by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, State of Michigan. This guy's response is hilarious, but read the State's letter before you get to the response letter.

    SUBJECT: DEQ File No. 97-59-0023; T11N; R10W, Sec. 20; Montcalm County

    Dear Mr. DeVries:

    It has come to the attention of the Department of Environmental Quality that there has been recent unauthorized activity on the above referenced parcel of property. You have been certified as the legal landowner and/or contractor who did the following unauthorized activity: Construction and maintenance of two wood debris dams across the outlet stream of Spring Pond. A permit must be issued prior to the start of this type of activity.

    A review of the department's files shows that no permits have been issued. Therefore, the Department has determined that this activity is in violation of Part 301, Inland Lakes and Streams, of the Natural Resource and Environmental Protection Act, Act 451 of the Public Acts of 1994, being sections 324.30101 to 324.30113 of the Michigan Compiled Laws,annotated.

    The Department has been informed that one or both of the dams partially failed during a recent rain event, causing debris and flooding at downstream locations. We find that dams of this nature are inherently hazardous and cannot be permitted. The Department therefore orders you to cease and desist all activities at this location, and to restore the stream to a free-flow condition by removing all wood and brush forming the dams from the stream channel. All restoration work shall be completed no later than January 31, 2003. Please notify this office when the restoration has been completed so that a follow-up site inspection may be scheduled by our staff.

    Failure to comply with this request or any further unauthorized activity on the site may result in this case being referred for elevated enforcement action. We anticipate and would appreciate your full cooperation in this matter. Please feel free to contact me at this office if you have any questions.


    David L. Price, District Representative

    Land and Water Management Division

    ** Here is the actual response sent back by Mr. DeVries: **

    Re: DEQ File No. 97-59-0023; T11N; R10W, Sec. 20; Montcalm County.

    Dear Mr. Price,

    Your certified letter dated 12/17/02 has been handed to me to respond to.I am the legal landowner but not the Contractor at 2088 Dagget,Pierson, Michigan. A couple of beavers are in the process of constructing and maintaining two wood "debris" dams across the outlet stream of my Spring Pond.

    While I did not pay for, authorize, nor supervise their dam project, I think they would be highly offended that you call their skilful use of natures building materials "debris." I would like to challenge your department to attempt to emulate their dam project any time and/or any place you choose. I believe I can safely state there is no way you could ever match their dam skills, their dam resourcefulness, their dam ingenuity, their dam persistence, their dam determination and/or their dam work ethic. As to your request, I do not think the beavers are aware that they must first fill out a dam permit prior to the start of this type of dam activity.

    My first dam question to you is:

    (1) Are you trying to discriminate against my Spring Pond Beavers, or

    (2) do you require all beavers throughout this State to conform to said dam request?

    If you are not discriminating against these particular beavers, through the Freedom of Information Act, I request completed copies of all those other applicable beaver dam permits that have been issued.Perhaps we will see if there really is a dam violation of Part 301,Inland Lakes and Streams, of the Natural Resource and Environmental Protection Act, Act 451 of the Public Acts of 1994, being sections 324.30101to 324.30113of the Michigan Compiled Laws, annotated.

    I have several concerns. My first concern is; aren't the beavers entitled to legal representation? The Spring Pond Beavers are

    financially destitute and are unable to pay for said representation --so the State will have to provide them with a dam lawyer. The Department's dam concern that either one or both of the dams failed during a recent rain event, causing flooding, is proof that this is a natural occurrence, which the Department is required to protect.

    In other words, we should leave the Spring Pond beavers alone rather than harassing them and calling their dam names. If you want the stream "restored" to a dam free-flow condition please contact the beavers-- but if you are going to arrest them, they obviously did not pay any attention to your dam letter, they being unable to read English.

    In my humble opinion, the Spring Pond Beavers have a right to build their unauthorized dams as long as the sky is blue, the grass is green and water flows downstream. They have more dam rights than I do to live and enjoy Spring Pond. If the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection lives up to its name, it should protect the natural resources(Beavers) and the environment (Beavers' Dams).

    So, as far as the beavers and I are concerned, this dam case can be referred for more elevated enforcement action right now. Why wait until 1/31/2003? The Spring Pond Beavers may be under the dam ice then and there will be no way for you or your dam staff to contact/harass them then.

    In conclusion, I would like to bring to your attention to a real environmental quality (health) problem in the area. It is the bears!

    Bears are actually defecating in our woods.

    I definitely believe you should be persecuting the defecating bears and leave the beavers alone. If you are going to investigate the beaver dam, watch your step! (The bears are not careful where they dump!) Being unable to comply with your dam request, and being unable to contact you on your dam answering machine, I am sending this response to your dam office.


  9. NWoods_Hippie

    NWoods_Hippie Well-Known Member

    Nov 16, 2006
    Northern Wisconsin
    This is a pretty informative website:

    I am having a bit of a beaver problem at the large resort I caretake for here in Northern Wisconsin. In the last two week I have found 41 trees downed or girdled by the new resident beavers in 42 acre lake on the property! I would LOVE it if the beavers took down all the Popple trees and the scrub/tag alder BUT they have started on the Yellow Birch and we have so few of those to start with. I found one fairly mature Yellow Birch yesterday that is about 10" across, the danged beavers just girdled it, didn't take it all the way down and now that tree is going to die.

    I hope you have better luck with your resident beavers than I am having!

  10. gilberte

    gilberte Well-Known Member Supporter

    Sep 25, 2004
    Beaver good. Make good coat. Keep you warm. Meat good. Fill you belly.
  11. Country Doc

    Country Doc Well-Known Member

    Oct 26, 2005
    My interactions involve conibear traps, .30-.30, 12 ga with buck shot, professional trappers. They are trouble. It is the only animal I actively kill on sight. I will even leave copperheads alone.
  12. Dances In Woods

    Dances In Woods Well-Known Member

    Jun 17, 2002
    Henderson, TEXAS
    Well this is ironic, we now have a big beaver in our 1.5acre pond. Still reading on their habits. We have 6ducks & he/she doesn't have any interest in them at all...(thank goodness)
    When we go outside at nite you can hear it eating the cattails on our pond. I'll say one thing, its clearing the sides out pretty nice so far. Our pond is already dammed up so I guess as long as it doesn't start really messing things up we'll leave it alone. If it causes problems for us then we'll call game warden to catch it, I don't wanna kill it though.

    I watched it graze around edge of pond one evening minding its own business, pretty cool & its HUGE!!! :)
  13. Farmer Willy

    Farmer Willy Well-Known Member Supporter

    Aug 7, 2005
    A short way past Oddville
    Only thing I remember about beavers was Jeff Foxworthy talking about an old boy that got his nipple bit off by a beaver. I leave them alone now as I'm partial to both of mine.
  14. Marcia in MT

    Marcia in MT Well-Known Member Supporter

    May 11, 2002
    northcentral Montana
    If it's eating so many cattails, could it be a muskrat and not a beaver? Did it build the dam?
  15. seedspreader

    seedspreader AFKA ZealYouthGuy

    Oct 18, 2004
    NW Pa./NY Border.
    Ohio has an active beaver population and trapping season.
  16. Drizler

    Drizler Well-Known Member

    Jun 16, 2002
    They will cut down 50' trees quite a ways from their water project so watch out for that. If they start doing it they will likely damage things quick and really destroy things in short order. 1' diameter and larger don't stand a chance if they want them. If they do begin to start bothering you just call the local game warden of fish and game office. They can often put you onto who will catch and remove them. If not you can get a live trap from Northern Tools for under $80 big enough to trap coyotes. They aren't the fanciest, nicest things but they are rugged and hold up though you have to set them carefully to trap smaller animals. I have used mine to trap everything from rescue cats to huge raccoons even getting 2 coons at once. Then you can find em a new home. I removed 16 raccoons last summer, took em 3 miles away and not one came back. We love that trap an use it nearly every year. For the most part your beavers shouldn't cause you any real grief and make far better neighbors than people.
  17. PyroDon

    PyroDon Well-Known Member

    Jul 30, 2006
    S.E. Ks.
    Go ahead and cut down the trees the girdled leave them where they fall . with any luck the beavers will continue to munch on them rather than new trees . at least for a day or two
  18. moonwolf

    moonwolf Well-Known Member

    Sep 19, 2004
    about 80 acres down the hill from the house here is a series of beaver ponds along a creek flow, and then a hill past that keeps their area water bound up to the tree line.
    It's a natural area that has been like that for a long time. Their natural food up here that they most eat and store under the ice for winter food is poplar branches from the tops of bigger downed trees, willow, and alder.
    Beavers are fascinating creatures to watch, as they are 'busy as beavers' constantly adding to their dam to raise the water level to their food source.
    The lodges are interesting if you come upon them while trekking on the frozen ponds with their breathing holes that stay frost free most of the time. stinks too! :eek:
    The good of beaver environment is the attraction you'll get also with mink, otters, and beavers won't bother fish if you have them (otters will though).
    Predators also get attracted, in case you have a wolf population, which is interesting in it's own right. The obvious natural attraction with waterfowl and other birds and pond life, if you like that sort of thing is great too. Thinks like kingfishers might show up, etc. ......and Frogs, turtles, herons, possibly Pelicans, cranes and Canada geese which all I've seen at my ponds at one time or another. Meadows around the ponds also benefit attracting wildlife such as deer, black bear, coyotes, foxes, bobcats, lynx, etc.

    I love having the beaver ponds where they are away and down from the house and clear pasture. I've even had help from beavers falling about 30 cords of poplar that can save me fuel for the chainsaw for firewood.
    Oh, and all those big fat branches they don't eat.....they go into the dam. Watching beavers work on the dam is really quite fascinating for me. I sometimes walk along the top of one and have seen interesting plant life such as wild mint growing there. As someone mentioned, the beavers rear a brood and the 2 year olds set out to find other areas to inhabit and add to the dam scenario with more ponds as they seek wherver it's conducive lowland with a water flow, so you'll have more and more ponds with build up of water to flood more of your timber that you have. If you are situated with your dwelling on a high spot, that's less worry of beaver destruction.
    Living here over 16 years now, I've seen changes where one big pond got drained due to heavy rains and flooding. The dam just couldn't support the water rising. That is now a huge meadow and total great ecosystem of it's own. Amazing how many snails were on the botom of that pond when I walked about the drained bottom that spring. The different animals that attracted also was interesting. A beaver pond ecosystem is ever changing, so enjoy it. Be aware of the problems they CAN cause as mentioned above, and take note of your own living location, and what domestic animals or orchards you wish to maintain, and live within that parameter of expectations.
  19. Mountaineer

    Mountaineer Well-Known Member

    Jan 1, 2006
    Yes- protect trees you don't want damaged. Very important!
    And make sure the areas they flood are well out of the way. They will create lakes. I think they are great when I see them in the wild. But don't think I'd just let him be, flooding my field. I'd relocate or shoot.
  20. Old Vet

    Old Vet In Remembrance

    Oct 14, 2006
    In most areas beavers are not a real nusance. But in some areas beavers can do a lot of damaged. I used to farm on very flat land and a beaver dam would hold enough water to cover 40 acres of crop land. I now live in the mountains and they are not much of a problem. Here they can only hoild enough water to keep enough water to get around in. They are facinationing to watch. They can build a dam with anything that is handy I even found a 55 gallon barrel in one of their dams along with tin roof from an old outhouse.