Eastern Wildlife Damage Control Conferences


Date of this Version



Management of beaver (Castor canadensis) populations can be an effective way to create wetlands while at the same time producing a valued recreational and furbearer resource. Optimizing beaver populations for such a dual objective, however, requires careful integration of biological and sociological considerations in management planning. Knowledge of beaver population dynamics by itself is insufficient for sound management; human tolerance data also must be included in management decisions to reduce the potential of encountering problems that could impede the attainment of beaver-wetlands management objectives. Expansion of beaver into new areas often may be constrained by managers' perceptions of the potential for landowner complaints of beaver damage. Responding to numerous complaints can be a time-consuming and costly drain on agency resources. In response to wildlife managers' concerns about landowners' reactions to increasing beaver populations, landowners in central New York were surveyed in January-February 1985 to determine public attitudes and tolerances associated with beaver activities o Survey responses indicated that over one-half of the owners of sites occupied by beaver had incurred previous damage or nuisance problems. Site owners' perceptions of the severity of damage were strongly related to their overall tolerance orientation toward beaver. Damage estimates indicated that site owners were willing to incur nearly $800 of damage per landowner in return for the presence of beaver on their property during the period of 1982-1984. Individuals attempting damage control often relied on the assistance of others with their control efforts and a majority of all site owners indicated they were willing to conduct habitat modifications on their property that would aid in the prevention of future beaver damage problems. Implications of these findings are discussed in relation to issues that must be addressed by wildlife managers developing damage management and control programs.