Although beavers are indigenous to all of South Carolina they were trapped to near local extinction by the early 1900’s. Beaver fur was extremely valuable during this time period. Beavers were reintroduced in the 1940s and have taken a firm hold. Reductions in fur price and subsequent reduction of trapping pressure has been beneficial to beaver populations. They are now considered to be in all watersheds of South Carolina. Beavers normally live in family units or colonies ranging from 2-8 beavers. There may be 1-2 adults and offspring from multiple years. Beavers will build a den or lodge for shelter and reproduction. They breed in December and their young are born in March. The beaver young generally disperse after two years. Beavers have extensive claws and one on each rear foot is split.
Beavers continually build dams that block streams, creeks and spillways on ponds, burrow into levees to form dens and build lodges that are easily recognizable in a pond environment. Beaver dams may also flood railroad beds and highways which may cause travel hazards. Beavers are vegetarians. They will feed on herbaceous vegetation in the warm months of the year and the bark of woody trees in the fall. In the colder months, they can cause extensive damage to trees around waterways due to the lack of soft aquatic vegetation. Trees that are cut down are also used in portions for dam and or lodge building material. As they flood areas they interrupt the successional growth stages of vegetation in the pond area. The woody upland species will die and more aquatic herbaceous vegetation that is more available to the beaver will thrive.
Beaver signs may be identified in several ways. Standing water in an otherwise dry area near a stream can be a sure sign. Chewing on the bases of trees near a waterway can be clues to the beavers’ presence. Beavers may also slide into the water to escape and produce troughs in the bank around a body of water. When a beaver colony has been identified in an area, the only options are to live with them or remove them. They generally will not leave on their own. Beaver removal may be conducted legally most any time of year in South Carolina. If beaver control is the management chosen there are several steps involved in the remediation of the problem.
- Trapping – Beavers may be captured in live traps or in lethal traps. Our wildlife biologists have over 40 years experience trapping beavers and have conducted extensive research on beaver populations statewide.
- Cleanup of dam and debris – In some cases, the dam materials used by beavers may block a spillway or culvert pipe. Dams as well as felled trees must be removed safely and with careful planning as flooding may occur in some cases. Wildlife biologists may remove dams mechanically or by hand. Our in-house tree service (Tree MD) can assess health or remove and replace unsightly beaver damaged trees.
- Exclusion/ Repair – In some situations where beavers are plentiful, reservoirs or ponds may be especially susceptible to extensive damage by flooding over dams, resulting in dam failure. They may also completely cut ornamental trees in one night. Our wildlife biologists have designed solutions to these problems until beavers are captured. Beavers may also cause dams to fail due to burrowing. The Forest and Wildlife Group has the equipment necessary to make these repairs.
- Habitat Modification – Involves modification of the animal’s habitat to make it less suitable.
Although beavers are normally nocturnal (active at night), they may exhibit different behavior depending on population density and location. If you think you have a beaver problem call us to schedule an appointment for a free inspection for beaver control or beaver removal. We have captured over 287 beavers in the last two years alone and we can tell you why the rear claws are split.
Forest and Wildlife Group are biologists and experts in animal and nuisance wildlife removal, control, and exlusion. Click on any of the links below for more information about each specific animal.