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WWRC 97-05ee
Use of Beaver to Improve Riparian Areas in Wyoming


Beaver (Castor canadensis), through their dam building activities, store water, trap sediment, subirrigate vegetation, and subsequently improve habitat for fish, wildlife, and livestock. Many landowners realize the benefits that beaver can bring to a riparian area and are interested in using them to improve riparian habitat. Beginning in 1993 we introduced beaver to eight areas throughout Wyoming. Our goal was to use beaver to improve riparian habitat. We trapped and relocated over 110 beaver during two and one-half years. Predation and emigration accounted for the loss of 36% and 48% of telemetered beaver throughout the three year study, respectively. Our results show that 1) trapping and moving beaver needs to be done within a short period of time, generally 5 days, 2) beaver need to be introduced in large numbers (i.e. > 5 animals for each introduction site) to compensate for high predation and emigration losses, 3) follow-up introductions need to be done once beaver become established, 4) spring and fall releases tend to be equally successful although animals released in the fall remain nearer to the release sites when starting to build dams, 5) beaver introductions can be successful in a wide variety of habitats including some that are not considered primary beaver habitat (i.e. scrub oak habitat in the Black Hills), and 6) a large amount of interest was generated from the project especially from private landowners.

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