Beaver mitigation practical guides
At a Glance
This video shows how to protect individual trees from beaver damage using wire mesh. It is a relatively simple technique using materials and tools that are widely available.
Beavers eat a wide variety of plants. They can feed on the bark of trees and can fell trees to feed on leaves and bark from the rest of the tree and to use them as construction materials. Felled trees will often coppice, producing multiple new stems and over time can create a more diverse woodland structure. However, beaver feeding can also have less welcome impacts particularly on specimen, ornamental trees or fruit trees. There are a number of techniques to help protect trees from damage, including using wire mesh.
Aim of this technique
This guide shows you how to protect individual trees from damage or felling by beavers by using wire mesh fitted around the base of the tree to physically prevent beavers from them from feeding.
Beavers are strong animals and they can be persistent. It is therefore important to make sure that the protection is robust. By following this guidance you should be able to successfully protect trees that may be vulnerable to damage. If you act quickly it may also be possible to protect trees that have received some damage before they are felled. This technique can also be used to prevent grazing on felled trees to allow them to coppice.
What do I need?
To make a wire mesh tree protector you will need the following materials;
- Galvanised weld mesh of the following specification:
- Wire thickness: 1.8 - 2.5mm (15-12 wire gauge)
- Mesh size: 50mmx50mm
- Height: 900mm
- Length: See table below
This mesh is widely available from most agricultural and many DIY suppliers or online. It is usually supplied in 25m rolls (approx. £70) or in smaller panels (approx.. £10-20 each). The strength and rigidity of this material makes it easy to work with. It is also highly resilient to beaver activity.
Note: Lighter gauge material or chicken wire is not recommended as it may not be strong enough. If you do use it, it will need extra support but even this may not be enough to stop beavers pulling at it to get to the tree.
- Tying wire or cable ties (optional)
How much wire do I need?
The following table provides the length of mesh/panel needed to fit around trees of varying sizes. It includes a c.10% overlap.
|Trunk diameter||Length of panel/mesh required|
Tools and safety equipment
You may need to cut the mesh to get it to the right size. The cut ends of the panels can also be very sharp so use appropriate safety equipment/ clothing.
You will need:
- Heavy duty wire cutters or small bolt-cutters
- Safety glasses
- Strong gloves
How to do it
- Cut the mesh to size using wire or bolt-cutters ensuring it is long enough to provide a minimum 100mm space between the mesh and tree trunk all the way around (this is factored into the lengths given above).
- It is important to avoid positioning the mesh flush against the bark as beavers will be able to gnaw through the mesh. For the same reason mesh should not be nailed to the tree.
- If possible, leave an overlap to allow for future adjustment as the tree grows.
- Where trees have buttresses or exposed roots these will need additional wire protection or a larger diameter of guard. The guard should not rest upon exposed roots.
- During installation take particular care to avoid wire springing back into eyes when cutting and handling the mesh. Always wear eye protection and gloves.
- Once shaped around the tree, join the mesh to itself by using heavy duty pliers to twist and fold the cut ends to join ends (see picture below). Alternatively use tying wire or cable ties to join the mesh - this technique is useful if you are using an overlap and wish to increase the size of the protector to be increased as the tree grows.
- You can fix the guards down by making pegs from high tensile fence wire or buy them individually. These are more likely to be needed if the tree guards are first installed during the winter months. In summer, vegetation growth will usually secure them quickly.
Other techniques to consider
This is an effective, simple and relatively cheap way to protect relatively small numbers of individual trees. However, it is less appropriate for protecting large numbers of trees or where the shape or situation of the tree make fitting the wire difficult.
In such situations you may want to consider options for protecting groups of trees or applying anti-game paint such as Wobra.
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