Beavers are known to repair cut dams very quickly (usually overnight), thus
the need for a method to allow continued drainage. Mesh devices on drain
pipes are common  however, they usually require frequent cleaning and are
easily dammed by beavers. Long, rectangular wooden pipes (three-log drain)
have been installed in dams for many years to control water levels in beaver
wetlands. These, and similar devices, are usually cumbersome and often
expensive, and offer only temporary relief of floodwater. Lethal beaver
control devices are often damaging to non-target species such as raccoon or
river otter and can be labor intensive.

A cost-effective, easily portable barrier that prevents drainage cuts in
beaver dams from being repaired could offer temporary relief from
beaver-created floodwater. Preliminary indications are that an electrical
wire barrier erected in an hourglass configuration is an effective barrier
to beavers attempting to patch or rebuild dams severed for drawdown

During the spring of 2003 on the Noble Foundation Wildlife Unit, six
discrete beaver colonies were identified and corresponding beaver dams
suitable for implementing water draw downs were located. A 12-inch-wide cut
was made in each beaver dam to a depth 2 to 3 inches below water level,
which provided sufficient flow to attract beaver activity and draw down the
water level. An hourglass configuration of "Maxishock" 14-gauge stranded
wire was erected in the cut and initially positioned 1 inch above the water
surface. Four 18-inch fiberglass rods positioned at the corners of the
hourglass held the wire in place. New Zealand-style, mini-strip graze
energizers were used to charge the wire and were mounted 3 feet above the
water level on a stake. A 20-inch piece of 12-gauge-high tensile wire
pressed deeply into the mud served as ground. The device maintained drainage
for up to two weeks during the study. In other incidental usages of this
device, drainage has been maintained up to four weeks.

Three different styles of D cell battery-powered mini chargers have been
used in the study, and all were effective units for this purpose. These
units range from $80 to $100 and can easily be transported in a backpack
along with the fiberglass rods, 10 feet of stranded wire and a ground wire.
A "potato fork" seems to be a suitable tool for making the initial beaver
dam cut.

This device is an effective tool for maintaining "cuts" in beaver dams for
drawdown purposes and should take its place among the arsenal of non-lethal
beaver management tools.

Author: John Holman. April 2004. For a copy of the article please go to:
W. Justin Sealy
Area Forestry Teacher
Georgia Department of Education