Landowners (e.g., private landowner, municipality) are responsible for managing hazardous beaver dams that threaten their own property. The removal of a beaver dam is a temporary solution as beavers will rebuild quickly or others will move in. The removal of a beaver dam should only be considered when no other management options (e.g., bafflers, deceivers, culverts, trapezoidal fences of woven wire mesh) are possible.
The North Bay-Mattawa Conservation Authority (NBMCA) is not responsible for the management of beavers and beaver dams except on NBMCA-owned land. Beavers play a vital role in wetland ecosystems and are considered "ecosystem engineers" because of their ability to construct dams and create ponds. Beavers create wetland habitats for other species, increase biodiversity, improve water quality, store water during droughts, minimize flood risk and mitigate flooding peaks.
Following is a summary of information dealing with protection of property and beaver dams in Ontario. This summary is neither a legal document nor a complete collection of the current regulations. It is meant to be a convenient reference only. Please refer to the legislations for specifics. Under the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act, 1997, it is illegal to damage or destroy beaver dams, unless specifically exempted by the Act (i.e., for the removal of dams to protect private property). Visit Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act, 1997, S.O. 1997, c. 41 (ontario.ca) for more details.
Destroying a dam should only be considered after other techniques have been tried. The removal of a beaver is a quick but temporary solution. If the habitat remains attractive to beavers it will not be long before new beavers move into the area.
If dam removal is necessary:
• Exercise extreme caution to prevent downstream flooding, damage to natural habitats and property damage. If a dam is removed, you are not exempt from: potential civil liability through damages to neighbouring properties and the need for permission to access another landowner’s private property.
• For best practises, Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s “Interim code of practice: beaver dam removal” can be found here: https://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/pnw-ppe/codes/beaver-dam-barrage-castor-eng.html.
For further information visit these websites:
• Ontario Government - Prevent Conflicts with Beavers https://www.ontario.ca/page/preventing-conflicts-beavers
• Central Algoma Coalition - Resources - Beaver Management Toolkit www.centralalgomafreshwatercoalition.ca/