Shoreline Protection & Maintenance
Beavers on Lake Independence
by Michael Garwood
If you’ve taken a stroll along the frozen shoreline of Lake Independence lately, you may have noticed trees that have been chewed by beavers. These critters enter the lake through the different creeks and streams, searching for trees they need for food, building materials, or to sharpen their teeth.
Beavers have girdled this tree, which will eventually cause the tree to die.
Beavers usually select small trees with a diameter of 2 - 6 inches, but can damage larger trees with diameters as wide as 33 inches. If a beaver is able to successfully chew the bark around the tree's entire circumference, then the tree is girdled and will eventually die. Trees along the shore and steep slopes of the lake serve as soil stabilizers. With loss of trees, soil erosion is more likely, especially during storms and high-water events. The soil contains unwanted nutrients, including phosphorus, which enhances algae growth, resulting in nasty algae blooms.
A chicken wire cylinder is a simple solution for preventing beavers from damaging trees.
One simple solution to this problem is to prevent beavers from chewing the trees by placing a cylinder composed of wire mesh fencing around the trees. Examples of this solution can be seen on Lake Independence along the shoreline of some private landowners, Independence Beach boat launch, and Baker Park. Experts recommend that the cylindrical fence should be about 4-feet high and constructed with 2x4-inch wire mesh or chicken wire. Beavers tend to prefer aspen, birch, cherry, cottonwood, poplar and willow, but will chew any tree when food sources are scarce. There are examples of oaks, maples, aspen, cedar, and cottonwoods that have been girdled over the past year on Lake Independence. Paul Cortibine with Three Rivers Park Forestry Management says that beavers are not shy about venturing far up the steep shoreline slopes to select a tasty tree. In summary, homeowners may want to place fencing around any trees they don't want to lose.
A good resource for information about beavers is