Beavers are well adapted to life in the water. Their webbed feet, waterproof fur, clear “third-eyelids,” and flattened, rudder-like tail enable them to be excellent swimmers. Their huge front teeth help them to cut through hard woods like maple and oak. These teeth grow throughout the animal’s lifetime and are necessary for survival.
Learn More: ODNR Species Guide Index
Beavers may seem innocent enough, but they can be a real nuisance to property owners, and may even pose a safety threat.
Why Do Beavers Cut Down Trees?
Primarily for food and lodging. Beavers do not hibernate. They cut down trees, especially in the fall, to store for winter. They create an underwater forest by placing one end of each stick in the mud under water.
Do Beavers Really Eat Wood?
They eat the inner, growing layer of bark called the cambium. They also will eat twigs and leaves. They do not eat the inner wood as they cannot digest it. Once the bark is stripped off, they use the wood to form their dams, dens and lodges.
What Species of Trees Do They Prefer?
Apple, alder, birch, cherry, cottonwood, willow, poplar and aspen are favored. If the tree supply is low, they will next turn to oak and sometimes maple. They usually cut down trees that are within 100 feet of the water.
What Good Are Beavers Anyway?
The death of trees and the snags and debris created by their cutting down are important parts of nature. Beavers are a “keystone” species, which means they are critical to the survival of hundreds of others. Beaver wetlands are the most bioproductive habitats in the world, supporting hundreds of species of plants and animals.
Why You Should Care
Beavers’ powerful teeth can destroy trees, and their dams can cause flooding, leading to property damage for some homes and businesses.
They can also be very territorial. Although they are fairly nocturnal and usually retreat to water when they feel danger is present, they have been known to stand their ground or come out during daylight to defend a den. They may bite when approached by humans or pets, especially if they are approached in the water.
What You Can Do
Protect Your Trees
Wrapping or sand-painting trees is one of the best long term solutions. Not only does this prevent the loss of trees, it reduces the food supply so they move on. They typically will not return to an area for 10 to 15 years, the time it takes for young trees to grow to a suitable size.
Wrap trees with sturdy wire mesh caging, six gauge or similar thickness, 36 inches high, and placed with 12 inches of space between the wire and trunk. Stake the wire for support to help prevent beavers from pushing the wire against the trunk and chewing off bark through the wire.
Alternatively, a simple paint mixture applied to the base of the tree can deter biting for one to two years. Use the paint recipes below for mature trees, saplings, or thin-barked trees such as birch or beech.
- Exterior latex paint (choose color that matches bark)
- Mason sand
- Mix 5oz of sand per quart of paint, or 20oz per gallon
- Using a brush, apply paint to the bottom 36”- 40” of the trunk
Note: Make in small batches right before applying. Avoid using too much sand as it will cause the paint to roll off of the tree.
Young Saplings/Thin-Barked Trees
- “4 The Birds” or “Birds Away” liquid repellent
- Mason sand
- Dip a paint brush first in the sand, then the liquid repellant
- Apply to the bottom 36” – 40” of the trunk
Note: Avoid using this recipe on older trees used by climbing birds such as woodpeckers and nuthatches.
Silence Your Pond
The sound of running, flowing or moving water attracts beavers, so fountains and aerators in ponds should be turned off.
Stay Out of the Water
Humans and pets should avoid ponds and other water sources where beavers are known to live, as they may attack.
The City is closely monitoring beaver activity in the area. To report beaver activity or downed trees please call 614.410.4700.
A Community Effort
The City is actively installing wire cages around key tree species, primarily softwoods such as birch, sycamore and aspen, as well as maple and oak in beaver-active areas. These efforts in conjunction with those of homeowners will greatly reduce the animals’ ability to collect and store wood for winter feeding, encouraging them to move to more suitable locations. There are many areas in Dublin – away from residential homes – where the beavers can coexist peacefully without causing flooding and damaging important city and private trees.
Barbara Ray | Nature Education Coordinator | City of Dublin
614.410.4730 | firstname.lastname@example.org