Date of this Version
The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation (ODWC) estimated the state's beaver (Castor canadensis) population at 1,245 animals in 1951-52. That same year, ODWC relocated 29 beaver from 5 western counties to Department lands in 4 eastern counties. Beaver populations in Oklahoma have since grown as a result of changes in available habitat. In response to the growing number of beavers, ODWC opened an annual beaver season from 1 December to 31 January, in 1960-1961. The season was opened year-round in 1983. Although beaver activities benefit many wildlife species, their activities have had a negative economic impact on the state. Complicating this problem is the low value of Oklahoma beaver pelts. Restrictions on trapping devices have also contributed to the limited beaver sport harvest. To help reduce beaver damage, a multi-procedural approach to beaver control was taken, including preventative measures as well as direct removal of nuisance individuals. Because harvesting beaver actually increases their reproductive potential, the goal of ODWC's nuisance beaver control program is to relieve the damage caused by beavers to human property without concentrating on a population reduction scheme. Under ODWC's program, nuisance beaver control permits allowed beaver to be taken on private or public lands with body-gripping traps or by night shooting.