Beavers (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, as has been the case in some of the business parks within Bothell.
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.

American Beaver

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What should I do if I see a beaver in a trap?


1. Leave it alone. Do not attempt to touch or release the animal. If you do, you are creating risk for yourself and for the property itself.

2. If you have concerns or questions about why the animal is in a trap, contact the property owner or property management company, who likely hired a Wildlife Control Operator or other licensed trapper to resolve beaver conflict.

Why did I see a beaver in a trap?


When beavers create flooding and other risks to human and property safety, property owners have options to deal with the conflict. If keeping beavers on the property without creating a safety hazard is simply not possible, then live or lethal removal are alternative options. When choosing one of these options, property owners often hire a Wildlife Control Operator, someone who is certified through WDFW and conforms to its regulations. WCOs have skills and training in the capture and handling of many wildlife species that commonly generate wildlife complaints. WCOs are not state employees and operate as private entities, setting their own fees. Learn more about the different kinds of wildlife traps you may see.

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 (also called nuisance wildlife). 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. Typically these individuals are 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.
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What can WCOs do?


Under the authority of their certification, WCOs are able to trap, capture, and remove small game or unclassified wildlife such as raccoons, opossums, skunks, beavers, 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.

If I need to hire a WCO, how do I find one?


WDFW maintains a list of qualified Wildlife Control Operators. Click to search for a WCO by county. WDFW also offers a list of questions to ask when hiring a WCO.

I'm concerned about a beaver dam on my property. What can I do?


Because beavers’ legal status, trapping restrictions, and other information change, contact your local Department of Fish and Wildlife office for the most current regulations on what you can do about beaver dams.

Where can I learn more about beaver management?


For more information about managing beavers on your property, visit the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife website.
The content on this page was adapted from Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife's website.
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