California Beavers Status Upgrade: Department Of Fish And Wildlife Now Calls Them A Keystone Species

Beavers in North America have had a tough road. Blessed and cursed with quality fur the rodent engineers were hunted nearly to extinction. Gradually they have been returning in parts of their old range. A new California beavers status upgrade will help them advance in the Golden State.

Beaver Lodge
Beaver Lodge by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is licensed under CC-CC0 1.0 Beaver lodges help maintain water flow and keep rivers healthy – when they are built in the “right” places. California beavers are now a keystone species.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife now regards them as a “keystone species” which will help with preservation and conservation efforts. California beavers status upgrade was recently announced by the CDFW.

“The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has implemented a new policy recognizing the ecological benefits of beavers while mitigating conflict over damage to land and property (depredation). CDFW’s new policy builds upon its existing beaver management policies and lays the groundwork for projects that harness beavers’ natural ability to help protect biodiversity, restore habitat and build wildfire-resilient landscapes. This includes a process that enables beaver relocation as a restoration tool and a new non-lethal option. The policy also outlines a process to mitigate beaver depredation conflict, prioritizes the use of nonlethal deterrents whenever possible and ensures that lethal removal of depredation beavers is done in a humane manner.”

Reading the release carefully it becomes clear that although CDFW recognizes the value of beavers, they can also be bad neighbors and lethal and non-lethal control methods are necessary.

beaver in close up
Born with formidable teeth beavers must chew. All rodents have the same need and it can get them into trouuble with people The beaver status upgrade includes conflict resolution. Photo by Denitsa Kireva on

North American beavers (Castor canadensis) are born engineers. Their dams are important in regulating water flow and provide housing and other benefits to othe animals. However, they can be bad neighbors and ruin trees and other plants. CDFW Director Charlton Bonham said the agency recognizes the benefits of beavers to the state:

“Beavers help improve habitat restoration and water quality, restore ecosystem processes and bolster wildfire resiliency,” said Director Bonham. “This new policy formally recognizes beavers as a keystone species and ecosystem engineers in California. They are truly the Swiss army knife of native species due to their ability to provide so many nature-based ecosystem services.”

But the agency will remain mindful of the flooding and tree destruction these “Swiss army knife” creatures are capable of.

close up photo of black can
Photo by Israel Albornoz on Like many “troublesome” anials beavers have found a way into advertising, iconography and art. California now respects them as a keystone species,

On the federal level the United States Fish and Wildlife Service has its own beaver conservation policy.

The California beavers status upgrade has been a long time coming. Beavers are making a slow comeback in the United States. In Europe Eurasian beavers (Castor fiver) are also making some successful returns. Notably in the United Kingdom. Beavers have been released in Scotland, and there may be a few in Wales, too.

Published by ursusrising

long time writer and editor living in Los Angeles

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