What can I do about my Beaver problem?

Beavers have made a huge comeback in the region and are now a common source of flooding problems for Town residents. Recent statutory changes to fish and game laws have made significant changes to the permitting scheme for addressing a nuisance beaver (see M.G.L. Chapter 131, section 80A.)

There are essentially three options for dealing with a nuisance beaver:

  1. trapping
  2. dismantling the beaver dam
  3. installing a "beaver deceiver" (a device for maintaining water levels at a selected elevation despite continued beaver activity).

Trapping is usually only a temporary solution because a beaver will often return to a site after trapping ceases. A homeowner does not need a permit to contract with a licensed trapper during beaver hunting season (November 1 through April 15) for the placement of cage or box-type traps on his own property.  

The Boxford Board of Health may issue an emergency permit for trapping a nuisance beaver out of season if the trapping is necessary to alleviate a threat to public health and safety. It can also issue an emergency permit for trapping a beaver with a "restricted trap"--a conibear-type trap. Contact the Boxford Board of Health at 978-887-6000 x172 for more information. If no public health and safety related issues are present, trapping outside the regular hunting season requires a special permit from the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (contact MassWildlife Northeastern District Office at 978-263-4347 for more information, or go online.

In order to dismantle a beaver dam or install a beaver deceiver, a homeowner must complete a two-step process. The first step is to obtain an emergency permit from the Boxford Board of Health to alleviate a beaver-related threat to public health and safety. Examples of such a threat include the flooding of a driveway, septic system, or drinking water well. Once an emergency permit has been obtained from the Boxford Board of Health, the homeowner must then complete the second step of the process by obtaining an Emergency Certification from the Boxford Conservation Commission. The Conservation Commission review and approval of the Emergency Certification can often be completed on an expedited basis. For more information contact the Conservation Office at 978-887-6000 x506. The emergency permits from both the Board of Health and the Conservation Commission expire within relatively brief time periods, so it is important that the homeowner be ready to act quickly upon receiving the requisite permits.

If no argument can be made that the beaver-related nuisance affects public health and safety, the homeowner will receive a written denial from the Boxford Board of Health in the application for emergency permit. The homeowner may appeal this denial to the State Department of Public Health. If the Department of Public Health upholds the denial, the homeowner may then request a permit directly from MassWildlife.