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Beaver have long been pursued for their fur. Recent public opinion has slowed the fur industry and allowed beaver to prosper. The once steady harvest is at all time lows and consequently, beaver populations have grown. This growth has forced the beaver to find refuge in any pond, lake or river that will house them. Increasingly, beaver are finding their way to water privately owned and with this migration, conflict. The destruction they do is not welcome and control methods are rapidly employed. Skilled trappers who no longer are able to sell beaver fur to make a living are now turning to nuisance beaver trapping as a way of life.
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BEAVER DAMAGE *
Beaver can cause quick damage to trees which in turn leads to tree death. Beaver can cut down several trees down in a single night. They will damn water flow and change desired currents or water levels. Most important, they are nocturnal and hard to hunt. This is why trapping beaver has long been the most productive way to control nuisance animals. View this video to see a beaver close up in one of our live traps.
BEAVER BIOLOGY *
Beaver families are centered around the female. She is the foundation responsible for the growth pattern of the colony. If food is plentiful, she will have 2-4 young a year and maybe more. Babies will stay with the female for at least two years and sometimes over three. Colonies can rapidly reach 12-15 animals if local food supplies will support such numbers.
If food is scarce, young beaver will be forced out on their own at younger ages. These young beaver will randomly chew trees and then leave. This activity is particularly frustrating because such immature beaver will cause a lot of damage and then move on only to cause just as much damage a hundred yards away. Older beaver will be more set in their ways and easier to follow. Once active, their patterns will be consistent as they methodically work trees and waterways. Young beaver are more inconsistent and difficult to track. Knowing the local colony could prove helpful when trying to trap nuisance beaver.
Beaver are strong, nocturnal and able to cover large areas in short time. They swim very well and can negotiate the strongest currents any river can produce. Once a beaver has decided it wants to live in any given stretch of water, it will build a lodge and begin to mark it’s territory. Tree cutting and unwanted damage will soon follow. At this time, most people are ready to take whatever measures are necessary to stop the destructive tree killing. Beaver will cut any tree but seem to be fond of the prettiest trees they can find. Cherry, dogwood and birch are quickly found and pine is generally liked too.
HOW TO STOP BEAVER FROM CHEWING TREES *
Many tricks and repellents have been devised over the years to stop beaver from damaging trees but few if any work. The only product which will stop them from chewing on a tree is one used for bird control called 4-THE-BIRDS. This material is a clear, non-drying glue which can be sprayed or painted on the tree. Although painting it on allows for a precise application, the use of a PUMP SPRAYER makes the application fast and easy for large jobs.
4-The-Birds Liquid: http://www.bugspraycart.com/repellents/liquid/4-the-birds
Once applied, beaver will not touch the gooey product. Since they can only reach 2-3 feet, treat the entire trunk of the tree four feet high. 4-The-Birds is weather resistant and will last 6-12 months per application. It won’t hurt the tree or non-target animals since it is NOT a poison; it simply repels any animal from chewing the bark because it’s irritable. Applications of 4-The-Birds on trees will save them from beaver chewing.
Once applied, the beaver will forage elsewhere or simply move to another location where untreated trees are available. As a general rule, use 4-The-Birds when you have active beavers chewing that you want to stop to save the trees. If local populations are high and the damage being done is uncontrollable, you will have to trap local animals to get the best results.
BEAVER CONTROL *
If you’ve got more problems besides tree damage from local beaver, a simple repellent won’t do the job. When beaver start building dams, clogging culverts and causing water issues, you’ll have to trap them out to get control.
BEAVER TRAPPING *
There are four types of traps commonly used to control nuisance beaver. Kill traps, leg traps, snares and live cages.
BEAVER KILL TRAPS *
Kill traps have been used to take beaver for as long as trapping has been done. In the 1960’s, Conibear (aka: body grip) traps were introduced and quickly became the most popular used. Bodygrip traps are kill traps. They will squeeze the target animal tightly and quickly. Death is instant and because of how the trap is set, it rarely misses. It has the added benefit of not missing target animals by catching them on the leg or tail. Bodygrip traps like the BG 330 or the BG 220 are still the mainstay of any successful beaver trapper. The less common BG 280 can also be used. Most people will employ a pair of TRAP SETTERS for any of these three models. Trap setters help make for quick and safe sets.
BEAVER TRAP STANDS *
To make the perfect set, consider anyone of the optional trap stands designed for Bodygrip traps. The 18″ SOLO STANDING STAND is popular for wide open sets. The 220 SHORT 13″ STAND stand is one of the most popular with the 330 SHORT 20″ STAND almost as common. For deep water sets, the 330 SUPER STAND 46″ is the way to go. Refer to either the BEAVER BOOK or the BEAVER 2000 for tips and tricks on how to make a decent set with body grip traps and stands.
18″ Solo Stand: http://www.bugspraycart.com/traps/conibear/stand-18-tall-220330
20″ Short 330 Stand: http://www.bugspraycart.com/traps/conibear/short-330-trap-stand-20
330 Super Stand 46″ http://www.bugspraycart.com/traps/conibear/super-330-trap-stand-46
BEAVER LEG HOLD TRAPS *
Leghold traps, like Coil and Bridger traps, can be set to kill or catch beaver alive. Trappers use them both ways depending on the animal they are trapping and the type of set they are design. These traps come in many sizes and are used for many other animals and not just beaver. The most common size for beaver are the BRIDGER # 4 and BRIDGER # 5. The COIL # 3 is also very common. It is important to use a trap with a wide jaw width since beaver can get large and big enough to step on a coil or bridger without getting caught. This happens if their feet are larger than the width of the trap’s jaws.
Long Spring #4: http://www.bugspraycart.com/traps/long-spring/long-spring-4
Long Spring #5: http://www.bugspraycart.com/traps/long-spring/long-spring-5
Coil Trap #3: http://www.bugspraycart.com/traps/coil/coil-3
BEAVER SNARES *
In recent years, snaring has become another popular way to catch beaver. SNARES are made from cable, most commonly 3/32 steel, which is able to close around the beaver as they enter a looped end set in their path. Designed to move in one direction by using a special cam lock mechanism, snares will close around necks, legs or body sections of most any animal that enters. Once caught, the snare will hold the target animal in place till the trapper checks his sets.
Generally used to catch the animal live, be ready to deal with one angry and strong beaver if you decide to use snares! Beavers may be slow but when caught and held against their will, most will put up a strong fight.
BEAVER BAIT *
Though there aren’t any real sure-fire baits that can be used for every beaver every time, they do seem to have a sweet tooth for Poplar trees. If you don’t have any Poplar trees on your property, create your own. Gather up some small branches, 1/2″ to 3/4″ thick and 1 foot or less in length, and debark them so they shine nice and white. Place 4-6 of these sticks at the back of the trap and sprinkle 5-10 drops of POPLAR OIL on top. This “bait” will work with just about any type of beaver trap and seems to be an effective way to make a good set any time of year.
BEAVER CASTOR LURE *
If you are unsure where such logging paths and trails exist and still want to trap, you will need to create scent mounds or trap where such mounds exist. Scent mounds are where beaver will go to mark their territory. Such mounds are commonly used to catch beaver since they seem to be more vulnerable at such locations. Mounds can be found along shallow shore lines, sand bars or other areas where the water level is low.
If you know where these mounds exist, you can use them to your advantage. Beaver will visit such mounds periodically to freshen their scent and these are a great place to make a trap set. Special glands release odors which are specific to the beaver who visit these locations. New beaver will scent there during territorial fights and with the use of CASTOR LURE, you can pretend to be another beaver.
Castor Lure: http://www.bugspraycart.com/traps/lure/beaver-castor
BEAVER SUIT CASE TRAP *
Live Traps which are most commonly referred to as “SUITCASE TRAPS” can be placed where the beaver are using such mounds. These traps look like a big suitcase and will spring closed when activated. Suitcase traps can be used at feeding beds as well and can be baited with Poplar Oil too. These traps have been around for some time and though effective, they can be a little tricky to set. That being said, they can enable the trapper to make a wide range of sets.
One such set is over water which is very deep. Basically, hanging it out over deep water and strapping or anchoring it to a tree will work well for beaver. Such sets should be barely submerged with the trigger and bait above the water line. This insures that most any beaver will have to swim over to investigate. You don’t have to hide or bury the trap and you don’t have to worry about a trapped beaver drowning since it will elevate them above the water line when set right.
BEAVER EASY SET LIVE TRAP *
Since the old style “suit case” trap discussed above is best used by experienced trappers who know where and how to make good sets, you might opt to use one of the newer designs. The EASY SET BEAVER TRAP is another “suitcase” looking trap but unlike the traditional design, it involves a much simpler mechanism. This mechanism is very easy to set and can be done by anyone with no risk of injury.
Easy Set Beaver Trap: http://www.bugspraycart.com/traps/cage/beaver-easy-set-15-x-29-x-36
It uses no springs but instead a simple locking mechanism that keeps the top closed tight once it seals. This trap is very versatile and excellent for most any sets. For demonstration purposes, we have several videos which will show how to use the Easy Set in different situations. Keep in mind you can use other traps to make these same sets and that the Easy Set is not the only option. However, it is clearly superior for some of these environments and for the beginner, a great choice. Here is the Easy Set being set on a beaver dam, one of the most common places to place any type of trap.
As experienced trappers will tell you, making a set “in the water” will always improve your success rate when targeting beaver. The Easy Set is unique in that it’s both easy to set and easy to deploy in open water. Here it is being set up in front of a culvert pipe. Beaver commonly clog or close such pipes which causes flooding. The Easy Set is ideal for this environment.
A similar location is a drainage ditch. When clogged, flooding will happen. Making sets in drainage ditches is commonly done for beaver and this video shows how to best take advantage of this situation.
And for most people, the “open water” set is the most feared. It’s hard to imagine where you might be able to make a set when beaver have access to miles of shoreline along large lakes. But as this video shows, there is clearly a pattern or “trail” beaver like to follow and with a little detective work, you should be able to locate such trails where any problem situation exists.
Remember, the clips above show sets in common locations where beaver can be a problem. And though the Easy Set was used in the presentations, several of our other traps can be used just as well. Regardless, you must “taylor fit” whatever trap you decide to use and be sure to add plenty of Poplar Oil if you don’t have the real local food to use as bait. Beaver are clearly controlled by smell and with the right combination of lures and bait, you can get them to make mistakes and fall victim to most any style trap.
BEAVER BOOKS *
Trapping beaver is a skill and one that cannot be learned overnight. However, like most trades, experience is the best teacher. If you are inclined to try trapping beaver yourself, there are two booklets which will prove to be great sources of information. The BEAVER BOOK and BEAVER 2000 cover everything you need to know about how to trap beaver.
The Beaver Book is somewhat dated, but the information, diagrams and techniques are all useful today. Beaver 2000 covers much of what The Beaver Book discusses but gets into the use of snares as well. If you want a basic understanding of beaver trapping to deal with a small problem, get The Beaver Book. If you think snaring might be how you want to trap, get Beaver 2000. If you want to know more than you’ll ever need to know about beaver, get both!
Each book discusses several sets. Some of these use Bodygrip traps, coil traps and bridger leghold traps. Sets are pictured in each book so you are able to visualize how you will actually place the trap in the field. Numerous tricks and setting techniques are detailed. Mound sets using Castor Scent are discussed in both and generally are a good way to catch beaver during different times of the year.
In summary, there are basically two types of people who are reading this article: those of you who know what traps you want and how to use them and those of you who have nuisance beaver and want to learn how to trap. For the first type, you can see our traps listed above by simply clicking on them where they appear underlined in the text of the article. In general, we stock everything and ship same day as ordered. For those of you who want to try your hand at trapping and aren’t sure how to start, here are a few suggestions.
- Get at least one booklet. The Beaver Book is good; getting both is even better.
- Although each book covers more than you need to know, focus in on the trap sets to learn which one will work for your situation. Each book covers sets for dens, open water, logging trails, feeding beds, mounds, beaver ledges, waterways, and other great locations to trap beaver. If you have a beaver problem, a set that will work for you will be detailed in either book.
- Trap selection seems like the toughest decision, but it really should be the simplest. Just ask yourself if you are a novice or a professional. If you are a professional, you know what you want to do. If you are a novice, the question is whether you want to trap the beaver alive or dead. If you want the beaver dead, the Bodygrip 220’s and 330’s are for you. Although the leg traps and snares are “live traps” in that they catch the animal alive, most any beaver can be too much for you to handle as they are quite strong. Catching one in a cage may require more technical setups, but any beaver caught in a cage is easy to deal with since it is confined. Beaver in a leg trap or snare are mean and ornery and they won’t hesitate to bite. A novice doesn’t have the skill to deal with such an animal. The Suitcase Live Trap will increase your odds of catching a beaver live but will cost more.
- Get some Castor Scent or Poplar Oil. These scents have a wide range of uses and will generally help even the novice get more animals. The books detail how to use some and our formulation works great.
Beaver can become an expensive nuisance animal once established in ponds and rivers of your property. Watch local activity and be prepared to deal with populations that grow too large. Repellent sprays will work for migrating animals, but you will need to trap out persistent beaver which refuse to leave.
CONTACT US *
Give us a call if you need further help. Our toll free is 1-800-877-7290 and we’re open Monday through Thursday, 8:00 AM to 7:00 PM. On Friday, 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM and on Saturday, 9:00 AM to 2:00 PM (Eastern Standard Time).
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