Beaver return to the Three Lakes

Signs of beaver can be found on all three of our lakes.  Although volunteers stepped in during the fall of 2011 to take apart a beaver dam at the culvert between Lakes Oscaleta and Waccabuc, at that time the Three Lakes Council did not have a position on the beaver issue.  With new resident complaints in the spring of 2012, the Three Lakes Council established a task force chaired by Peter Gross and asked the task force to report.  They produced recommendations in an educational report and plan.

The plan adopted by the board contains the following criteria for taking action:

  • If we don’t get a sufficient number of volunteers to keep the channels clear
  • If damming occurs and the water level in Oscaleta is 6″ or more above the level of Waccabuc, or the water level in Rippowam is 6″ or move above the level of Oscaleta;
  • The occurrence of any unprovoked injury by a beaver;
  • If there is attempted dam-building at a location in the Oscaleta –  Waccabuc channel that is not at the culvert and removal is deemed unworkable;
  • If damming activity blocks free passage of canoes and kayaks between Rippowam and Oscaleta, or between Oscaleta and Waccabuc for two consecutive weekends; or
  • If, in the judgment of the Board, the beavers are causing other significant changes that are likely to have a negative long-term effect on the lake ecosystem or lakeside environment.

Protect favorite plants

Beaver may damage shoreside plantings.  The NYS Department of Environmental Conservation recommends protecting any favorite trees or shrubs:

  • Individual shrubs and trees can be protected by loosely wrapping to a minimum height of 36 inches with welded wire fencing, zinc or plastic coated, or roofing felt held in place with string or wire.
  • Groups of shrubs or trees can be protected with 36 inch high fences made of welded wire, woven wire or 12 inch high tensile electrified wire with a minimum of 3 strands of wire spaced at 4 inch intervals.

Native plants in our area co-evolved with the beaver and have the capacity to regrow or recover from stumps or cut branches.

Beaver are wild animals.  Do not attempt to approach or feed them.

We are looking for volunteers to help keep the culverts clean.  If you are interested, contact Joe Tansey who sets up a schedule for this work.  Also, anyone boating between the lakes can help keep the culverts passable by moving sticks and debris out of the water and onto the sides of the channel.

Please remember that we are all neighbors and we share an appreciation of the lakes and the natural resources. We may have differences of opinion on the impact and the fate of the beaver, and facts and science should guide our discussion.

To answer some frequent questions:  trapping means killing.  The DEC is very unlikely to authorize the relocation of any beaver.  Beaver have a trapping season during which no permit is required to trap them.  The landowner must give permission to have a licensed trapper install a trap in the water off that property.  If you own property on a lake, you can hire a licensed trapper to put a trap on your property.  Out of season, a trapping permit might be available, for example if a town road is in danger because of beaver activity, and that permit will be issued to the property owner. Traps cannot be put on lodges. The property owned by the Three Lakes Council is not where the beaver are likely to be found, so any traps would have to be set on other property.

More information sources

Here are some informative links for more information on beaver.