Beaver trapping led to the exploration of North America by European colonists, but nearly resulted in the extinction of both the European beaver (Castor Fiber) and the North American beaver (Castor Canadensis). In the 20th century as beavers began to return to their historic North American range, beaver-human conflicts sometimes arose and beaver trapping was typically used to resolve these conflicts. However, in areas with healthy beaver populations, trapping is usually a short term solution because new beavers are attracted by the habitat and soon recolonize the trapped area.
In many areas with low beaver populations, problematic beavers can be live trapped and relocated to suitable habitat away from human development. This is allows for resolution of the problem and allows beavers to create valuable wetland ecosystems in areas where they are needed. There are many successful beaver relocation programs in the U.S., such as the Methow Beaver Program in WA, the Lands Council Beaver Solution in WA, and Wildlife 2000 in Colorado.
In areas where beaver populations are higher, beaver relocation may not be legal. In these areas managing beavers with water control devices and other nonlethal means is the most effective management method as they can successfully resolve beaver-human conflicts without losing the many ecological and water storage benefits of beavers.
In situations where human development has severely encroached upon historic floodplains, beaver trapping is sometimes the only feasible solution. However, most human-beaver conflicts are better managed with flow devices.
Trappers are typically trained and licensed by each state, If you are interested in hiring a trapper or becoming a licensed trapper, please contact your State Wildlife Agency for additional information.
Due to the myriad of environmental benefits, as well as the direct and indirect benefits of beaver ponds to humans, the Beaver Institute recommends that lethal beaver trapping be the option of last resort, and be utilized only where nonlethal methods are not feasible.
Live Beaver Trapping Video - Methow Beaver Project, WA
Note, in most states beaver relocation is illegal, so all trapped beavers must be killed. As the above video shows, some western states have adopted beaver relocation programs to better manage water, combat climate change, improve watersheds and to restore native species such a salmon.