Frequently Asked Questions

FAQs About Beaver

  • Temple Fork Beavers

    Are Beaver Native to Utah? Yes, beaver once numbered between 60-400 million (!) in North America. They were largely trapped out during the height of the beaver pelt craze in the 1800's. They have since recolonized much of their former range, but not their former population levels (UDWR).
  • What do Beaver Eat? Beaver are vegetarians (no, they don't eat fish) and prefer some plants over others when available. In Utah, beaver opt for aspen, cottonwood and willow when available. Birch, maple, ash and alder are also acceptable alternatives in areas without their preferred food.
  • How do You Tell the Sex of a Beaver? Because they have no external genitalia it’s not easy. The best way that we have found is to express their scent glands. The fluid in a male is tan and smells something like motor oil, and the females are more white or clear and smell like strong cheese. However, it varies and some especially young beavers are hard to tell. This High Country News has more details about the beaver sexing procedure.
  • How Big of a Range do Beaver Cover? Beaver generally live together as part of a colony. A colony is a family group that generally consists of the current year's kits and the year-old kits. Once kits are sub-adults (2 years) they disperse and find a new territory.
  • Which Animals Prey on Beavers? Beaver are slow and clumsy on land, but quick in the water. They build underwater entrances to their lodge to avoid predators. Predators include bears, bobcats and mountain lions.
  • Why do Beaver Slap Their Tails? The tail is a very distinguishing characteristic of beaver. They use their tails as a rudder in the water and like a kick-stand. Their tails are also useful as an alarm system to warn others in the colony of predators.
  • How Long do Beaver Live? Beaver can live up to 20 years.
  • Are Beaver Protected/Threatened? Beaver in Utah are not threatened but are classified as protected wildlife. The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (UDWR) is responsible for their management.
  • How Big do Beaver Get? Beaver are the largest rodents in North America and can grow up to 4 feet and weigh up to 60 lbs.

Beaver chewed tree.FAQs About Living With Beaver

  • What Trees Do Beaver Prefer? Beaver prefer softwoods from the Populus genus, which include cottonwoods and aspen. They will also eat willows and other riparian species but will chew down almost any woody species to use for building material or to get to fruits. They are particularly fond of apples and will sometimes take down apple trees in the fall just to get the apples.
  • How Do You Tell If Beaver Are Active In An Area: It’s typically easy to tell if a beaver is active in an area from the fresh cutting. You can tell how fresh a cutting is by looking at the chips to see if they are fresh/moist and if the leaves are still green or have they wilted. A good way to know if the beaver is living in the area not just passing through is to look for a, lodge (either stick or bank and a scent pile (mound of dirt on the bank) that shows that the beaver is planning on staying a while.  
  • How Do You Protect Trees From Beaver? We recommend fencing off trees to protect them but be careful not to wrap the trees tightly because as the tree grows is could cause the fence to strangle the tree. Other methods include painting the tree trunks with paint infused with sand.  For more information, go to BeaverSolutions.
  • How To Prevent Beaver From Flooding An Area? There are a variety of devices such as 'beaver decievers', pond levelers and culvert protection that can help reduce flooding. For more information, go to BeaverSolutions.

BDA buildingFAQs About Partnering With Beaver

  • How Do Beaver Dam Analogs (BDAS) & Post-Assisted Log Structures Work? Beaver Dam Analogs (BDAs) and Post-Assisted Log Structures (PALS) are restoration techniques that mimic the effects of beaver activity. BDAs use natural or synthetic materials strategically placed in streams to slow water flow, trap sediment, and create wetlands. PALS involve placing logs in streams to redirect water, create pools, and enhance habitat conditions. These techniques restore critical ecosystem processes and contribute to the recovery of ecosystems in need of revitalization.
  • How Fast Does the Ecosystem Respond when Beaver are (Re)-Introduced? When beavers are (re)-introduced into an ecosystem, the response can be surprisingly rapid. Once beavers start constructing dams and lodges, the transformation of the landscape begins. Wetlands and ponds are created, providing immediate benefits for various species. Within a short period, the increased water retention and slowed flow result in sediment deposition and nutrient enrichment. This leads to the establishment of diverse plant communities and the attraction of a wide array of wildlife. The restoration of hydrological processes triggers a cascading effect throughout the ecosystem, enhancing habitat availability, improving water quality, and promoting biodiversity. While the exact timeline varies depending on local conditions, it is not uncommon to witness significant ecosystem response within just a few years of beaver (re)-introduction.
  • How are Beaver Related to Process-Based Restoration? Beavers are closely related to process-based restoration. Their dam-building activities actively reshape landscapes and restore critical ecosystem processes such as water retention, sediment trapping, and nutrient cycling. By working with beavers, process-based restoration strategies can harness their natural behaviors to achieve sustainable and resilient ecosystem restoration.
  • Can Fish Get Through Beaver Dams? While beaver dams can pose a temporary barrier to fish migration, they often incorporate features that allow fish to navigate and overcome these obstacles. Beavers build small channels or tunnels called "beaver leaks" that enable fish to pass through the dam during migration. These leaks are openings in the dam that maintain a steady flow of water, creating a path for fish to swim upstream or downstream. Additionally, beaver dams can benefit fish by creating deep pools and slow-moving sections of water that serve as important habitats for feeding and spawning. Overall, while beaver dams may initially impede fish movement, they often provide alternative pathways and favorable environments for fish to thrive within the ecosystem.
  • How Do Beaver Benefit the Ecosystem? Beavers are vital ecosystem engineers, constructing dams and lodges that create wetlands and ponds. These aquatic habitats serve as nurseries for diverse plant and animal species. Beavers regulate water flow, prevent flooding, and filter pollutants, improving water quality downstream. Their activities replenish groundwater reserves and recharge aquifers. By creating open areas and promoting biodiversity, beavers encourage the growth of various plant species and provide diverse habitats for wildlife. From supporting amphibians, birds, and fish to mitigating climate change through carbon sequestration, beavers play an essential role in maintaining healthy ecosystems. sequestration, beavers truly exemplify the remarkable benefits they bring to our ecosystems.

Horseback releaseFAQs About Trapping & Relocating Beaver

  • What is the Beaver Trapping Season in Utah? The lethal trapping season is generally the end of September through the end of March and requires a special permit through the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources.  Phone numbers for the regional offices are on the Beaver Trapping Resources page.  Live trapping most often takes place in the spring through the fall so that relocated beaver have a better chance of surviving in their new location.  
  • How Do You Tell If Beaver Are Active in an Area? It’s typically easy to tell if a beaver is active in an area from the fresh cutting. You can tell how fresh a cutting is by looking at the chips to see if they are fresh/moist and if the leaves are still green or if they have wilted. A good way to know if the beaver is living in the area and not just passing through, look for a lodge (either stick or bank) or a scent pile (mound of dirt on the bank) that shows that the beaver is planning on staying a while.
  • If Beavers Are Live-Trapped & Relocated, Do They Return? We are still trying to learn more about the movements of beaver after relocation. Typically we try to move translocated beaver far from where they were caught to discourage any returning. However, if an area is attractive to beaver colonization, new beavers might take over where others have left off.
  • What Method is Best for Live Trapping Beaver? It depends on the setting but we prefer to use either Koro (previously Hancock) traps or large box traps. When appropriate, we will occasionally use snares.
  • Is There Training/A Course Available for Live Trapping Beaver? We are currently coordinating with UDWR to offer training courses. If you would like more information, please contact us.
  • What Are The Quarantine Rules For Relocating Beaver? Beavers will be quarantined for 72 hours to ensure that they are free of disease and parasites before they are moved to a new watershed.
  • How do I find a Trapper in Utah? Currently, only a few trappers in Utah have been trained and certified to live trap - mostly through the USU beaver program- but we plan to do additional training to certify more trappers. For more information on live trapping, you can contact the USU Beaver Ecology & Relocation Center.  Lethal trappers can be found through local nuisance control companies.