About Beavers in Bothell
Beaver (Castor canadensis)
Beavers are widely distributed across the U.S. and are known for their dam-building behavior. These dams provide them protection from predators, but the impacts of their dam building can occasionally bring them into conflict with humans and can cause flooding, as has been the case in some of Bothell’s business parks.
When beavers live on or near your property, sometimes their dam-building activities can lead to flooding, tree loss, and plugged culverts, etc. If this happens, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) strongly recommends that landowners take measures to tolerate or mitigate beaver activity whenever possible.
What if beavers are creating a safety hazard on my property?
If you’ve taken measures to mitigate beaver activity on your property but they are still creating a safety hazard, then live or lethal removal are alternative options. You can find an overview of removal options and more information here. You can also read about a beaver relocation program within Washington that WDFW is currently piloting.
Why did I see a beaver in a trap/cage?
When beavers create flooding and other risks to human and property safety, property owners have several options to deal with the conflict. One option is to hire a Wildlife Control Operator to trap beavers. In most cases, trappers are hired by private landowners, not by the City.
What should I do if I see a beaver in a trap/cage?
- Leave it alone. Do not attempt to release the animal. If you do, you are creating risk for yourself and for the property itself.
- If you have concerns or questions about the animal, contact the property owner. In most cases, trappers are hired by private landowners, not by the City.
What are Wildlife Control Operators (WCOs)?
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) receives thousands of calls every year from citizens seeking advice on how to deal with unwanted wild animals. Although laws give citizens substantive latitude to deal with problems, many are either unwilling or unable to handle human/wildlife conflicts.
WDFW enlists the help of private citizens who have skills and training in the capture and handling of many wildlife species that commonly generate wildlife complaints. These individuals are typically referred to as Wildlife Control Operators (WCOs), and there are many WCOs throughout the state. A WCO must be certified through WDFW and conform to its regulations, but they are not state employees and operate as private entities, setting their own fees.
What can Wildlife Control Operators do?
Under the authority of their certification, Wildlife Control Operators are able to trap, capture, and remove small game or unclassified wildlife such as beavers, raccoons, opossums, skunks, and certain other animals year-round. WCOs provide direct assistance to landowners who are willing to pay for the cost of licensed and trained individuals to resolve their wildlife problems. While many conflicts can be solved with information about an animal's activities, or by adopting a more tolerant stance or doing some repair work, WCOs are recommended for work that poses health or safety hazards or work that requires special trap setting skills and knowledge of wildlife to minimize inhumane treatment of animals.
How do I hire a Wildlife Control Operator?
Search for a WCO by county WDFW regional offices also can provide you with a list of companies or individuals that specialize in wildlife control work in your county. If you plan to hire a WCO for nuisance wildlife control work, even if through a Pest Control company, inquire whether or not the individual doing the work is certified. It is unlawful to trap nuisance wildlife on the property of another for a fee or other consideration without a current and valid WCO certification (WAC 232-36-065). A WCO should be able to provide a copy of their WCO certification upon request.
There is a beaver dam on my property. Can I just remove it?
To remove or modify a beaver dam you must have a Hydraulic Project Approval (HPA)—a permit issued by WDFW for work that will use, obstruct, change, or divert the bed or flow of state waters (RCW 77.55). You can obtain a permit application from your WDFW Regional Office or from the Hydraulic Project Approval (HPA) web page.
In emergency situations (when an immediate threat to property or life exists), you may obtain verbal approval from WDFW for work necessary to solve the problem. A 24-hour hotline 360-902-2537 is available for emergency calls during nonworking hours. During normal hours, contact your nearest WDFW Regional Office. Learn more about regulations for dam removal.
What is WDFW’s beaver relocation program?
The Washington Legislature recognizes that beavers play a significant role in maintaining the health of watersheds in the Pacific Northwest and that beaver relocation can be a beneficial wildlife management practice (RCW 77.32.585). The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) issues permits to authorize beaver relocation under certain conditions. WDFW currently issues beaver relocation permits under a pilot project per RCW 34.05.313. This pilot implementation allows WDFW to monitor and evaluate the beaver relocation program while developing a rule that will establish permit criteria. Learn more about the beaver relocation program.
Content adapted from Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife's Living with Wildlife-Beavers website.
Watch a video of Bothell’s Living with Beavers workshop presented by Snohomish Conservation District in 2020.