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Beaver and Berm Damage

Tree Damage in Winter

Beaver Under the IceTree Damage in WinterBeaver Will Chew Trees When Lakes and Ponds are Frozen OverBeaver Chewing Trees in Winter


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Are Beaver Active In The Winter Time?

Beaver are active all year long.

Many people believe beaver are locked under the ice in the winter. This is false.

Although beaver prepare for life under the ice each season, they often travel on top of the ice and on land.

When the ice first sets in and covers the lake, the beaver keep a few holes open to enable them to go in and out of the water.

As the ice thickens the holes are more difficult to keep open. At this point beaver usually chew a few sticks off in the back of the lodge just large enough for them to squeeze through. This back door located above the ice is very small and hardly noticeable. The beaver still have to keep predators out and heat in.

Most beaver prepare for winter by creating a feed bed or feed pile. This consists of chewing down trees and then chewing the branches off. These branches are hauled into the water and stuck down into the muddy lake bottom. The tops of these branches and tree limbs can be seen protruding above the ice.

As the ice thickens and the winter season progresses the beaver deplete their stored food cache or the tree branches in the food cache become sour.

This is when beaver typically become active again chewing trees and damaging property. Unlike in the autumn when beaver chew down trees in mass, in the late winter months beaver usually chew on trees on a much smaller scale. They chew down or chew on trees when they are looking for a meal.

Beaver also chew simply to chew. Since the beaver's front teeth, or incisors, continue to grow throughout their lifetime they must constantly be chewing on something to keep the incisors from growing too long in length. When this happens the front teeth usually begin to curl. If this begins to happen the beaver can no longer chew properly. Although rare, when this does happen the beaver typically end up dying from starvation because they are physically unable to eat.

What else are beaver capable of doing during the winter season?

Beaver are capable of performing any tasks in the winter season that they might be doing any other time of year. They dig trenches on the lake bottom (referred to as "beaver runs") to make travel safer and more efficient. An active beaver run is always clear of leaves, branches and other debris.

Beaver can repair dams in winter. They can re-plug or clog a culvert that has been dutifully cleared by the public works department. They can dig new bank dens, sometimes called feeder dens, to offer another safe place to eat in safety away from predators.