About the Beaver Bunkhouse

Five Beaver bunkhouses, side by side
What is the Beaver Bunkhouse?

The Beaver Bunkhouse provides a place to house ‘nuisance’ beaver when relocating them to more suitable locations. When beaver are moved from one watershed to another, the state of Utah requires that beaver undergo a 72-hour quarantine period.  The quarantine allows staff to ensure that the beaver are healthy and minimizes the chance of spreading diseases. This period of time also allows us to capture other family members from the same colony, which increases the odds of a successful relocation.

Marty 'hiding' from the volunteers.
The Accommodations

Beaver that are live-trapped and brought to the bunkhouse are housed in custom-built kennels that mimic the comforts found in a beaver pond. Each kennel features a concrete ‘pond’ that slopes down to a deep-water area for cover (which also has a large drain for easy clean-out). The shallow part of the ‘pond’ contains a ‘lodge’ or metal hut where the beavers can feel safe when not feeding or swimming. The ‘lodge’ can fit several beaver inside and is covered with a thick felted cover that is moistened to regulate the temperature for the beaver. The beaver can hide out in the lodge or take refuge in the deep-water area.

The design makes it easy to remove the hut to access the beaver for relocation and cleaning. Each kennel also has a game camera to monitor the beaver’s health and a thermometer to ensure the kennel stays within a suitable temperature range.

Beaver getting a health check
The Check-in Process

At check in, each beaver goes through a health check where they are weighed, inspected for injuries, and tagged for identification. We also determine the sex of the beaver, which is not an obvious exercise. Beaver do not have typical mammalian genitalia. Instead, they have cloacas similar to the anatomy of birds and reptiles. The male and female cloacas look identical; the only way to tell sex is by the color and smell of the excretion from their anal glands. This beaver sexing procedure is conducted on each beaver to assist in pairing beavers for release.

Kits feeding in the kennel
Life at the Bunkhouse

Because beavers are nocturnal, they spend most of the day hiding away and sleeping in the provided hut.

We minimize disturbance to the beavers as much as possible with the exception of daily cleaning and feeding by our group of dedicated volunteers. The kennels are drained and cleaned with fresh water, the old sticks are removed, and fresh water and food are replaced. The addition of fresh water each day also keeps kennel temperatures within a suitable range during the heat of the summer.

Our beaver guests are also checked for health at this time and occasionally given root vegetables like sweet potatoes, carrots, and apples as treats.  At night, we observe the beavers through our cameras.

During their stay, we will attempt to bring in the entire family from the colony.  Beavers have tight family bonds with the young remaining in the colony for up to 2 years and pairs will mate for life.  The family unit is housed in the same pen.  Releasing the entire family together improves the chance of a successful relocation effort.

Beaver next to a stream
How long do beaver stay at the Bunkhouse?

Beaver are held at least 72 hours to fulfill the quarantine requirement, until they can be relocated with a colony or a mate. Relocated beaver have a much higher success rate if moved in pairs or colonies. If a solitary beaver is brought to the facility, we wait to see if we can catch more beaver from that colony, or try to pair with a beaver of the opposite sex. Generally, when trying to pair beavers, we observe the pair for a short time to ensure they are compatible. With all the logistics of the quarantine, matchmaking, and identifying a suitable release site, beaver typically stay at the beaver bunkhouse for about a week.

BERC's Mobile Trapping Facility
Mobile Trapping Facility

In addition to our holding facility in Millville, the USU Beaver Ecology and Relocation Center has a mobile facility that we use when working in other locations in the state. The mobile unit also us to work in other states since beavers are not allowed to be moved across state lines. This beaver trailer is specially modified to hold and transport beaver. It is entirely stainless steel inside to allow for easy cleaning and has a generator that runs a heating and cooling system. The trailer also has a large tank of fresh water for the beaver, holding pens, and space for a four wheeler to take the beaver to their new homes. In some cases where there are large colonies of beaver in an area, we will also use temporary beaver pens made from large dog crates combined together and a small horse trough to make a pond. In addition, we create a suspended lodge to give the beavers a good place to hide and sleep during the day.

Living with Beaver
Beavers are unique in the way they alter their environment to create their ideal habitat. However, their alterations can cause human-wildlife conflicts. Allow beaver to create beneficial ecosystems while minimizing the risk of damage.

Trapping & Relocating Beaver
If you have a problem beaver and have determined that the best option is to remove it from the area, read more about live trapping and contact us for more information.