Beaver in South Carolina

Beaver Control - What a landowner can do (Adobe PDF - 79 KB)

Beaver Management & Control (Adobe PDF - 569 KB)

Management and Control

Destruction of Dam and Lodge

In very few cases will human destruction of the dam or lodge make beavers abandon a particular site. Usually the beavers rebuild in one night the work that has taken an individual all day to accomplish. However, sometimes beavers will move if the dam or lodge is destroyed properly:

  1. All material removed from the dam or lodge should be carried away from the water where the beaver cannot use it for rebuilding. The structures should be taken apart completely so that the beaver will have to start anew to rebuild them.
  2. The dam or lodge should be checked daily in order to remove any debris which the beaver has deposited to rebuild it.

Trapping

Conibear traps
Diagram of Conibear #330 trap The Conibear #330 trap is by far the most effective trap for capturing beavers. If used properly, the device is safe, selective, efficient and, above all, easy to set. This trap consists of:

  1. two springs
  2. two safety catches
  3. two jaws
  4. one trigger
  5. one trap lock

as shown here. The device is most easily set using a rope as shown or with commercially available setting tongs.

The most important features of the Conibear trap are the safety catches. These should be left over the springs until the trap is set and you are about to leave the area.

When new traps are purchased, they are coated with a lubricant which makes them slick and dangerous. This coating can be removed by washing the traps in hot soapy water, rinsing, and then soaking the traps in a mixture of hot water and ice cream salt. Let the traps soak for a day or two, rinse with clean water, and leave the traps outside for several days. The traps will become rusty, which will make them safer, easier to handle, and less conspicuous when set.

diagram showing trap set on top of beaver dam

Various Sets for Beaver
Beavers, like most animals, are creatures of habit. This fact makes them relatively easy to trap once their habits are known. The beavers will have certain trails or crossings which, when located, make good places to set traps.

Beavers usually have a well-worn path crossing the top of a dam which separates ponds. A trap set in this path will capture most beavers which cross the dam.

In shallow water beaver trails or runways can be located. These runways are usually clear of bottom debris, and due to the beaver’s constant use, have the appearance of a narrow trough. A Conibear trap set in such a runway is usually effective.

Diagram showing trap set in beaver runway

If the water above these runways is deeper than 10 inches, a small log can be placed over the trap to force the animal to dive.

Beavers feeding on agricultural crops, such as corn or soybeans, are easy to catch, because distinct, well-worn paths usually lead from the water out into the field. A Conibear trap placed in the path at the water’s edge will catch beavers.

When beaver lodges or dens are located and the water is shallow enough to permit locating the entrances, a trap can be placed at each entrance. These sets are extremely effective because (1) the traps are under water and inconspicuous, and (2) the beavers are sure to enter the lodge.

In some cases a fence will work when beavers are damming a culvert or overflow device and no lodge or den can be located.

Diagram showing traps set at beaver lodge entrances

First, tear out all material blocking the pipe and remove it from the site.Then place four posts in the ground and attach enough hog wire to build a fence which runs from the bank out in front of the pipe and back to land again. Once the posts are in the ground and the fencing is attached, cut three holes, one on each side and one in front of the pipe. Each hole is then blocked with a trap staked solidly to the bottom and secured to the fence or fence post. Any beaver which returns to rebuild the dam will circle the fence until it locates one of the openings and will then be caught.

Since beavers will also return to repair any breaks in a dam, another way to attract them is to break one or more holes in the dam only a foot or so wide and block these holes with traps. When the beaver returns to repair the dam, it will be captured.

Diagram showing traps set fence placed around culvert

Because the Conibear trap is a versatile and efficient tool, other ways of setting the device will become apparent as situations arise. But remember, this trap is a powerful device which, if not handled properly, can be dangerous. It is only as selective and safe as the user.

Disposition of Trapped Beavers
The beaver is a traditional furbearer, and a market for the pelts does exist. Beaver pelts from the Southeast are comparatively low in value but, if handled properly, can provide a return for your trapping efforts.

Beaver meat, if prepared properly, is delicious. It can be barbecued, fried, or used in stews. However, as with all wild game, avoid contaminating the meat with the entrails or glands which lie at the base of the tail. Also remove as much fat as possible.

Depredation Permits

The beaver is classified as a furbearing animal in South Carolina. The season for trapping these animals is January 1 through March 1. However, there is no closed season for hunting beavers on private land during daylight hours. Anyone planning to trap beavers should be familiar with the regulations which govern this activity (Adobe PDF - file size 129Kb).  Information on these regulations may also be obtained by writing:

Furbearer Regulations
S.C. Department of Natural Resources
P.O. Box 167
Columbia, S.C. 29202.

Beavers can also be taken year-round with a Depredation Permit. This permit is issued by the S.C. Department of Natural Resources when beavers are damaging private or public property, timber or growing crops. A depredation permit is not required when controlling nuisance beavers within 100 yards of a property owner's residence. To obtain a permit call your local wildlife management field office or law enforcement field office.

For further information on the beaver, please write:

Furbearer Project
SC Department of Natural Resources
P.O.Box 167
Columbia,S.C. 29202

or call 803-734-3609


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