THE BEAVER IN ILLINOIS
Adults Beavers typically weigh 40 to 50 pounds. Some may weigh as much as 90 pounds and stretch 3 to 4 foot long. The beaver is the largest member of the rodent family in Illinois. Like other rodents, it has 2 upper and two lower teeth located at the front of the jaws that are called incisors. Used chiefly for gnawing, a beaver’s incisors are long, massive and sharp. These specialized teeth allow a beaver to cut through a willow tree 5 inches in diameter in about 1 minute. Beavers are common in every county in Illinois. Beavers live in streams, rivers, marshes and lakes.
Beavers are well known for their engineering skills, especially building dams across streams and small rivers. The dams hold back water, increasing its depth and surface area. Dams 4 to 7 feet high are common. A flurry of beaver activity occurs in September and October as beavers prepare for winter. Dams are built up and kept in good repair. Most of the beaver family’s time is spent above a main dam, but they sometimes add 1 or more smaller dams downstream to back water up against the base of the main dam. This relieves pressure on the main dam and allows better access to food located downstream. Beavers construct bank dens and lodges for shelter and raising their young. They prefer bank dens if the stream or small lake banks are suitable for construction. Beavers confine their activities to within a half a mile of their lodge or den. They are most active at night, dusk and dawn.
Every area in the state that has suitable food sources located near permanent water is potential beaver habitat. Beavers forage on the bark of tender twigs and the new growth between the outer bark and the wood of branches and tree trunks. Preferred tree species include willow, river birch, and maple. It is also common to see damage to fruit trees. Roots of aquatic plants, marsh grasses, clover and certain berries are spring and summer fare.
Breeding starts in January or February. Males and females are monogamous. A single annual litter of 3 to 4 kits is born in April, May or June. Some females can have up to 6 kits. When the kits are born, they are completely furred, with their eyes open and front (incisor teeth) visible. Although they are able to swim at birth, they seldom come out of the den until they are about 1 month old. The kits are weaned around 6 weeks of age but will remain with the parents until 1 to 2 years old.
DAMAGE CAUSED BY BEAVERS
Extensive flooding can occur once a beaver colony dams up a stream, river or lake. Retention ponds and yards with planted trees are vulnerable and can be wiped out fairly quickly. Replacement can be extremely expensive.
TRAPPING AND REMOVING BEAVERS
Beaver trapping can be a little tricky at times. We use a variety of legal trapping methods to remove beavers from your watersheds. Beaver trapping is more expensive than say, trapping a raccoon because of the habitat and the nature of the animal. We are very successful at trapping and removing beavers.
There are several techniques to preventing beavers from taking down youR trees. We would be happy to consult with you and are fully cabable of beaver proofing your trees.