The North American beaver (Castor canadensis) is a semi-aquatic rodent, distinguished by a paddle-like tail and webbed hind feet. Beavers are primarily a crepuscular species, with most of their activity occurring at dawn and dusk. They use their large incisors to chew down trees and shrubs, such as alder, vine maple, and salmon berry. The layer of wood beneath the bark (cambium) of cut branches and boles are consumed and remaining sticks and logs are used as building materials for beaver lodges and dams. With the construction of dams, beavers create large pools of water, which are used as escape cover from predators such as coyote, bear, bobcat, and cougar.
Beavers provide unlimited ecosystem benefits to endangered salmon and other fish spawning habitat by increasing fresh water storage, reducing sediment loading, and adjusting stream flow and temperature. In addition, beaver dams have been shown to reduce the effects of intense storms, recharge groundwater, retain water in the summer and decrease high winter flows. They also transform the landscape by increasing grazing opportunities for deer, elk, and other game species, while also creating a more productive landscape for birds and amphibians to utilize.
Beavers were trapped to near extinction in the fur trade days of the 1800s. As a species, they are beginning to recover, however there are still many places where beavers are absent that could benefit from their restorative actions. The Tulalip Beaver Project relocates "nuisance" beavers from (sub)urban areas to hydrologically impaired tributaries in the upper Snohomish Watershed for the improvement of fish rearing habitat and fresh water storage. Staff hope to utilize these ecosystem engineers to work towards restoring and repopulating the areas where they are needed most.
Beavers instinctually fell trees to build dams and increase water for their protection, but in areas with human settlements, this can lead to many problems. When a beaver family moves into an area there is a chance of infrastructural flooding and unwanted tree removal. If you or someone you know is having nuisance beaver issues including:
Donations can be made to the Tulalip Beaver Project through the Tulalip Foundation. Please make sure to select “My donation is for Wildlife” from the drop down menu and type “Tulalip Beaver Project” in the comments section.