Living With Beaver

Resources For Living With Beaver

Beaver are unique animals in that they alter their environment to create and maintain their ideal habitat. They do this by cutting down trees and creating dams and ponds. The ponds and habitat they create provide many ecological benefits, but they can also be a nuisance to landowners and property managers by damaging trees and flooding property and roads. There are many methods of preventing and reducing damage caused by beaver to allow beaver to remain in the area and benefiting the ecosystem.

Fallen Aspen Tree
Beaver often fall large trees, but only use the smaller limbs for food and to build their dams.

Resources For Reducing Damage To Trees

Beaver in Utah seem to prefer the following tree species, although they are opportunistic and will cut down other trees bades on availability:

  • Aspen
  • Willow
  • Cottonwood
  • Alder
  • Apple
  • Cherry

Fencing Trees

Individual trees can be protected from beaver damage by wrapping with wire cages. Wire fencing, multiple layers of chicken wire, or even metal flashing can be used to prevent beaver from chewing on the tree trunks. Wrap the fencing loosely to allow the tree to grow and inspect often. The fencing needs to be at least 4 feet tall; and in snowy climates, 4 feet from the snowline. To protect a grove of trees, it is possible to encircle the group of trees with wire fencing instead of wrapping trees individually. For more detailed information and videos on fencing trees to avoid beaver damage, check out the Beaver Institute’s Tree Protection page.

Beaver fall trees further from the river than you might think, where they strip the smaller limbs and drag them down to the pond. Instead of painting or fencing every tree, protect any that might be of value to you and leave some that you don't mind if the beaver cut down. It is also not worth painting/fencing trees that will likely flood.

Tree with fence around it to prevent beaver from falling it
Image from Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife 'Living With Wildlife: American Beaver'

Man with a paintbrush painting a tree with a sand paint mixture
Spreading a sand/paint mixture at the base of trees deters beaver from chewing. Photo: Sierra Wildlife Coalition, CA.

Painting Trees With Sand/Paint Mixture

Beaver will avoid chewing on trees that are painted with a gritty sand/paint mixture. This method is effective for areas where you want to maintain a natural look, since it is often difficult to see that the trees have even been painted.

The Beaver Institute suggests mixing a latex exterior paint with fine sand/Mason sand to the ratios listed below depending your your quantity of paint:

  • 5 oz sand per quart of paint
  • 20 oz sand per gallon of paint
  • 140 gm sand per liter of paint

Mix the paint in small batches on the day you plan on applying it to the trees, stirring as necessary to keep the sand from sinking to the bottom. To maintain a natural look, match the paint to the color of the tree bark. Apply the paint/sand mixture to the bottom 4 feet of the tree (or a couple of feet above the snowline). The paint can last several years before it will need to be refreshed.

Keep in mind that beaver will eventually move up or down the watershed as they deplete their food supply and dams breach or wash out. The beaver pond is a dynamic ecosystem-constantly in flux.

Resources for Reducing Damage by Flooding

Fact Sheets & Guides About Living With Beaver