In 2019 the Clark Fork Coalition, in partnership with National Wildlife Federation and Defenders of Wildlife, launched a pilot project to address beaver conflicts using nonlethal resolution methods. Beavers provide many important ecological services to river systems and watersheds. Where they are present they can help improve both aquatic and terrestrial resources. In fact, more than 80% of Montana’s wildlife species rely on beaver-created wetlands for survival!
- Build greater tolerance for beavers on our landscape
- Reduce beaver conflicts, and
- Increase awareness through outreach and education
Beaver can help:
- increase water storage
- improve habitat diversity and complexity
- retain sediment
- cycle nutrients
- filter contaminants
- enhance fisheries and aquatic habitat
- increase groundwater recharge
But while the benefits of beavers are numerous, some behaviors, such as damming and tree cutting, can pose problems. “Nuisance” beavers have often been trapped or killed—but effective non-lethal management options can help reap the benefits while minimizing impacts.
Solutions that Work for Beavers and People
Through the Beaver Conflict Resolution Program, we select demonstration sites to construct devices designed to mitigate negative effects of beavers. For instance, when beavers are plugging culverts, we install culvert fencing devices. If beaver dams are causing problematic flooding, we use pond levelers or pipe devices to lower water levels upstream. And tree fencing protects mature trees as well as groups of saplings trunks from cutting.
Learn more about this innovative program by watching the video, reading our 2019-2020 impact report, and checking out the resources below. You can also contact program manager Elissa Chott at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Beaver Conflict Resolution Virtual Field Trip – 10/8/20
- National Wildlife Federation blogs:
- Make Way for Beavers – 6/25/20
- Beavers, Trout, and a Changing Climate – 5/11/20
- Good PR for Beavers – 9/2/19
- Interning in Conflict Resolution: How do we co-exist with our wildlife neighbors – 8/3/20
- Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (MT FWP) Living With Beaver information sheet
- Fun and informative blog posts from MT FWP beaver expert, Torrey Ritter (follow him at #tuesdayswithtorrey)
Additional links and info:
- Beaver articles, research, and more (cool stuff!)
- Beaver State Wildlife Solutions
- Rediscovering the North American Beaver: The Quest for a Keystone Species (MT Naturalist Magazine, Fall/Winter 2019)
- Cost Benefit Analysis of Beaver Conflict Mitigation Tools
- Smokey the Beaver: beaver‐dammed riparian corridors stay green during wildfire throughout the western USA (Fairfax, E. and A. Whittle. 2020)
- At Home with the Beaver: The Story of a Keystone Species (book for young readers by Dorothy Hinshaw Patent)
- Busy, Beleaguered, Beloved: Beaver in the Clark Fork (CFC Riffles newsletter, Fall 2019)
Special thanks to the MT Watershed Coordination Council (MWCC) Watershed Fund and the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service for their support of the Willow Creek Beaver Conflict Resolution Project in 2021. This project resolved beaver-caused flooding problems for a MT Rail Link line near Garrison, MT by reducing the pond depth and preventing re-flooding of infrastructure. It also leaves the beaver colony intact, with a pond deep enough for over-wintering. Thanks MWCC, DLV Conservation Dist., MT FWP, MRL, and Lolo Watershed Group for their help!