Beavers: Progress towards solutions

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Participants in the Beaver Workshop assembled a pond leveler device, which will be deployed at a dam to reduce the flooding impacts of beavers.

On December 6th, 2019, WSU Puyallup (Farming in the Floodplain Project) along with co-hosts Pierce Conservation District, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, South Sound Beaver Recovery, and Beavers Northwest hosted a workshop for organizations who work with landowners and encounter beaver challenges.

A main goal of the workshop was to offer resources for landowners who are experiencing impacts of beaver activity on their property, including on- site solutions or beaver relocation. This workshop advanced knowledge on beaver and ecosystem management, HPA permitting and process, advanced efforts towards developing solutions for landowners, and offered a hands-on opportunity to build a pond leveler for future deployment at a beaver dam. The event recap is available here. Additional resources are below.

The Farming in the Floodplain Project is interested in supporting agricultural viability needs within the Puyallup Watershed- one main challenge farmers face is agricultural drainage. While beavers are an important part of our ecosystem, they often complicate matters for agricultural landowners who are trying to maintain adequate drainage on their fields. It’s currently complicated and often confusing for landowners to locate resources and help when they have a troublesome beaver on or near their property. We’re working with our partners to develop better solutions for landowners so they have options and clearer paths towards problem solving when it comes to nuisance beavers!


DFW: Beaver Dam Management and HPAs

DFW: Streamflow Restoration and Beavers

Beavers Northwest Presentation

Beavers 101 Resource Page


If you think you have a beaver problem, call a WDFW Habitat Biologist for a site visit, free of charge. They can come out to assess the problem and help you come up with a plan. The WDFW’s main concern about dams is impacts to fish.

WDFW Habitat Biologists by region (2019):
  • Kelly Still – Nisqually watershed within Pierce County, Chambers-Clover Watershed, and Gig Harbor Peninsula & islands
  • Liz Bockstiegel – Puyallup Watershed in Pierce County
  • Allison Cook – Key Peninsula
What to do if you have a beaver problem:
  1. Be certain – objectively, does the situation require control?
  2. Develop a plan – Can beavers remain? At what water level is action needed? Keep monitoring for changes.
  3. Options to consider: proper sized crossings, water levelers (a.k.a. pond levelers), beaver deceivers, and removing infrastructure. See our event recap for more information and links to resources.
How to prevent beaver-human conflict:
  1. Plant carefully – introduce plants that beavers do not prefer, like Sitka Spruce, Elderberry, Cascara, Indian Plum, and Ninebark.
  2. Install barriers – e.g. fencing around trees, beaver deceivers
  3. Repellents – to spray trees with to deter beaver presence. They have mixed results and require frequent application.
Landowners’ Options for Beaver Removal:

Tolerance or mitigation, harvest by a licensed trapper, lethal removal by a wildlife control operator, or live removal by a beaver relocation permittee are options. Contact lists for these specialists can be found on WDFW’s websites. Mitigation (such as installation of large woody debris) may be required for beaver dams that have been in existence for over 1 year, the habitat biologist will decide if mitigation is required.

Tips for Fencing Trees:

Fences can be wrapped around trees that you don’t want to be damaged by beavers. Fencing should be thick (one single layer of chicken wire will not suffice, but multiple layers should), 36 inches tall, and standing a few inches away from the tree to allow the tree room to grow, so you don’t have to keep moving it away.