Control beaver damage to farm ponds
Leaving it to beaver is not a good idea, despite what the classic sitcom might lead you to believe.
Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension specialists have several tips to help control a pesky beaver population.
“The typical Oklahoma farm pond dam was built with too narrow of a top and is too steep sided,” said Marley Beem, OSU Cooperative Extension aquaculture specialist. “Such ponds are at high risk of failing when animals burrow into the dam.”
Beaver can cause great amounts of damage by excavating bank burrows, causing internal erosion and threatening the structural integrity.
“Pond owners need to keep a watchful eye out for beaver activity so they can catch any damage early or prevent it,” said Dwayne Elmore, OSU Cooperative Extension wildlife specialist. “Look for beaver lodges, slides or the sound of tails slapping the water at night.”
After identifying, it is best to control the beaver before fixing any damage they may have caused. There are a couple options for controlling the animals.
“First, I would recommend calling USDA Wildlife Services (405-521-4039) to see if the agency might be able to send out a trapper,” Elmore said. “Beaver are not too difficult to trap if you have a little experience. But, if you miss them in a trap, they are very tough to get, so you need to get them on the first try.”
If Wildlife Services cannot help, pond owners can take matters into their own hands by trapping or night shooting.
“I advise shooting since the only legal trap that a private landowner can use is a leg hold trap in a drowning set, which is a little tricky,” he said. “Night shooting works well but you will need to call the county Conservation Officer and/or sheriff to let them know what you are doing. “
Using a shotgun is preferred and much safer when shooting at water. Once the pest has been eradicated, repairs to the pond dam can commence.
“If the holes are in the dam, the pond owner needs to be sure that property and people are not at risk from a dam failure,” Beem said. “If those risks are present, then the pond owner definitely needs to get the expert advice of the Natural Resources Conservation Service.”
Smaller holes can be filled with a 90 percent soil/10 percent cement mix, while an expert from NRCS should handle larger holes.