While beavers and the wetlands their dams create play an important role in our ecosystem (biodiversity, water storage, resiliency to flood and drought), beaver dams can create considerable damage to human infrastructure (fell trees and shrubs, impound waters that flood agricultural lands, timberlands, buildings and roads). To reduce this damage, municipalities and land managers may choose to manage beavers through conventional means of lethal trapping, shooting, dam removal (manually, backhoe, or with explosives), bounty hunting, relocation, nuisance permits and poisoning.
These management approaches are costly, often do not permanently solve the problem as dams are quickly rebuilt as beavers recolonize and they limit the ability to realize the environmental benefits afforded by having beavers present on the landscape. Thankfully, coexistence tools offer an effective and cost-saving solution to beaver challenges.
Coexistence tools, such as pond levellers or culvert protectors, are water control devices that are designed to prevent problems associated with beaver damming activity and present an alternative that is more efficient and cost-effective to managing beaver conflict compared to expensive annual beaver population control, repeated road maintenance and repairs, and damage to infrastructure due to flooding.
Building a business case is an effective way to communicate the financial benefits of coexistence tools, in addition to the environmental benefits they allow. In 2020 we created a cost-benefit fact sheet focused on research conducted to determine the cost effectiveness of coexistence tools (pond levelling devices and culvert protectors). To further the application of this research, we developed this cost calculator which makes it easy for land managers to input their site specific criteria and obtain a calculation of how quickly a pond leveller would pay for itself in comparison to costs associated with using conventional approaches.
We have based our cost calculator on Alberta based research that has been conducted on pond levellers1 , which are typically more expensive than culvert protectors as they require more martials and time to install. Pond levellers mitigate flooding by acting as an overflow valve through a beaver dam, allowing for the pond level to be maintained at a level that prevents flooding but allows beavers to maintain their pond and habitat. Once the team has experience installing a few pond levellers, they can typically be installed by a crew of two to four people within 4-6 hours depending on the site.
Fill in the fields below to compare your actual monthly costs to the costs of installing a pond leveller for one site.
|How many staff does it take to clear the plugged culvert/remove a dam|
|How long does it take staff to clear the plugged culvert/remove a dam (hours)|
|How often do staff need to clear the plugged culvert/remove a dam to alleviate flooding at the site each month|
|On average what is the hourly wage of the staff who are clear the plugged culvert ($/hr)|
Total Monthly cost for clearing a plugged culvert/removing a dam: $0
(This cost only includes labour costs and does not include equipment costs or costs associated with the risks of clearing the plugged culvert or removing a dam, but with every trip to do this activity, there is risk. More trips = more risk to staff)
Total cost for installing a pond levelling (includes monitoring, maintenance, and installation costs): $1,934.00 (Cost is calculated over the expectant 7 year life span of the pond leveller)
Note that not all sites are appropriate for coexistence tool installation and need to be assessed on a site-by-site basis. To learn more about what it takes to install a pond leveller or culvert protector, visit the Coexistence page.
1 Hood, G. A., Manaloor, V., & Dzioba, B. (2018). Mitigating infrastructure loss from beaver flooding: A cost–benefit analysis. Human Dimensions of Wildlife, 23(2), 146–159. https://doi.org/10.1080/10871209.2017.1402223