Beavers are seen as a nuisance by many, but they are great for the environment. In this article, I wanted to explore why this is and give you some tips on protecting trees in your area.
Beavers are essential in establishing and maintaining wetlands and providing new habitats for other plants, animals, and insects.
The history of the fur trade and other human activities almost made beavers themselves a history page. Soon after the governments took action against the fur trade on beavers and deforestation, the beavers’ population is booming.
In North America alone, there were up to 400 million beavers. The number now stands somewhere between 6 and 12 million.
The return of beavers has several benefits to the environment. Their influence can be seen in development, tourism, agriculture, the environment, and the ecosystem’s general health.
However, humans are still in conflict with beavers. The cost of developing buildings on floodplains causes clashes between humans and beavers.
Here are a few reasons why beavers are essential for a healthy ecosystem and environment.
Establishing and Maintaining Wetlands
Beavers contribute significantly to creating and preserving wetlands, and this is why these animals are specifically crucial to the environment.
Beavers build dams across waterways. The dams enhance the environment in several ways. The dams provide habitat to different plants and other animal species.
Beaver dams also improve water quality and even slows down the flow of water. This helps to stop floods in many places.
Learning and Knowledge
Another reason why we need beavers in North America is we can learn from them. Students and children can quickly learn about how ecosystems work through beaver dams and beaver colonies.
They can learn about their local ecosystems, at the same time enjoying them through observations and photography. This is an essential reason governments should extend public education to these areas, especially where beavers live in large numbers.
Beaver ponds are among the most biologically productive ecosystems. Beaver ponds increase plants, birds, and wildlife varieties in the area. Beaver ponds also improve water quality, increase fish populations such as trout, and provide excellent salmon habitats for the spawn.
By gnawing and cutting through trees, beavers open up tree canopies. These gaps in the tree canopies allow light to penetrate deep into the water below. The increase of light, in turn, triggers improvement in biological activities in the water.
Aquatic plants and algae soon start to grow with the increase of sunlight. The algae and other aquatic plants help to support small animals and plants. Plants and other aquatic organisms will become food for a larger group of animals, including birds, fish, and mammals.
Beaver Ponds Create Habitats For Other Animals
To make a dam, beavers have to gnaw and chew through trees. The dams are made up of lots of these trees. Beaver dams are very beneficial as they are likely to offer a habitat for different animal species.
Grasses, bushes, sedges, and saplings grow on the perimeter of the pond. These plants can provide food for many types of animals. These plants are also beneficial in providing cover for these animals to use as shelter.
Improving The Flow Of Water
The increased quality of the water can benefit other animal species. These animals include wood ducks, otters, and mink.
Fish also get help with their survival from the increase in freshwater. Some fish species such as steelhead, salmon, and rainbow smelt will find a better place to survive around beaver dams.
Another benefit is that beaver dams will recharge the water we drink. The dams stabilize the water table, maintaining the streamflow, especially during a drought.
This is why many jurisdictions are considering relocating beavers to the west of the country to improve arid lands.
Problems Between Beavers and Humans
Beavers are regarded by many as pests, but no other animal species can benefit wetlands as they do.
There exists an ongoing conflict between beavers and humans. Beavers will find habitats in areas that are currently occupied by humans. However, humans and beavers are united against two common threats, floods and deforestation.
One of the significant problems between humans and beavers is the amount of damage done to trees. Reducing trees due to deforestation and a lack of consistency in tree planting is causing problems. These problems not only extend to beavers but also to other animals.
Beavers, for their part, destroy trees and plants, which results in a massive conflict between people and these animals. Beavers destroy trees whenever they come across them. Beavers will damage trees in urban and suburban areas.
If there is not a solution to this problem, then there are chances that this will become a critical issue, which can affect the life of the beavers significantly.
Flooding is also an issue facing humans from beaver colonies. Flooding can be a real problem after there are heavy rains or snow. The extra water enters the rivers causing major blockages due to the beavers’ dams.
How To Stop Beavers Chewing Through Trees
Protecting your trees from beavers will take a little bit of work, but it can be done easily and cheaply.
Trunk guards can be placed around the trunk of the trees. The trunk guards should be installed up to three feet high from the ground and made of galvanized welded wire.
These materials can be found in your local hardware or home improvement stores and are usually sold as fencing.
I am not a fan of chicken wire because it is very light and too flimsy to provide the needed protection.
We can also protect the trees by painting the trunks with a mixture of paint and sand. There are some findings from USDA that proves that painting the base of the tree with a mixture of sand and paint can help to protect them. You can find the USDA report here.
The mixture of paint and sand is great for deterring beavers from gnawing through trees.
To ensure that you cannot notice the trees’ paint, you can use a color that blends well with the trees. This will stop the beavers chewing through your trees and stop everyone from asking you why you have painted your trees.
Beavers are not good climbers, so a small amount of fencing can help keep them away from your trees.
The fence will need to be about four feet high. A fence of this height will greatly inconvenience the beaver, making them give up. Even after fencing the tree, you should always keep checking to make sure that the fence is still intact. Beavers can, with time, try to push under the fence.
You can opt for electrified wire, which can deter beavers from getting to an area.
The electrified wire can be effective in small spaces, such as a loved tree, or even used to protect a crop plot. The electrified wire will adequately protect the crops.
The traditional historical methods required the use of explosives or heavy machinery to destroy beaver dams. However, today, there are better methods.
Using machinery or explosives to destroy a dam does work. However, there are chances that the beaver will build another one quickly.
Today, experts use deterrents to stop beavers from building dams. Many deterrents can be used, with experts trying to take advantage of the beaver’s natural behavior.
The design and the installation of a beaver deterrent can be very complicated. For this reason, please seek the services of an expert.
Most people will only know about the presence of beavers when they are a nuisance. The methods above will hopefully help you to keep beavers around without them being a nuisance.