Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Dan Reed
Moose Lake Star-Gazette 

Nuisance beaver control finally passes Legislature


August 29, 2019

New beaver control provisions were enacted by the Minnesota Legislature in the 2019 Session. HD 11A Representative Mike Sundin had authored the initial bill with input from Wayne Thom, a member of the Minnesota Trappers Association from Prairie Lake but the bill that passed provided no State funds to guarantee alleviating the financial burden on local governments for handling nuisance beavers.

“I was surprised how the legislation gathered strong support,” commented Rep. Sundin. “It really had legs. Of course the legislative process takes time and I was happy that Rep. Persell (DFL) and Senator Ingebrigtsen (R) co-authored the final bill. Local governments, our county governments, the Township Officers Association, and the Trappers Association were strong supporters. Beaver pelt prices are at an all time low. Something had to be done to stop beaver damage to roads, private property, and timber lands. I am happy I could help.”

Beaver control provisions address the removal of beaver dams and nuisance beavers by landowners and local governments. The local affected unit of government will supply the contract trappers with government entity tags and allow the entity or its agent to retain the beaver carcass.

“In the bill I originally introduced, I pushed for the DNR to treat beaver damage just like they treat damages done by wolves and elk,” Sundin explained. “The DNR says one of their jobs is to manage wildlife. The beaver nuisance has been out of control for some time. The damages should be paid by the DNR just like their policy with elk and wolves. This bill does not go far enough.”

“The discussions were intense during this last Legislative session on the nuisance beaver problem,” explained Carlton County Land Commissioner Greg Bernu. “I sat in on a meeting with the Assistant Commissioner of Natural Resources, the head of the State Conservation Officer, and a representative from the State Trappers Association. It was quite evident the DNR would not dedicate money for beaver control and compensation for damage. Yet, finally, the powers that be decided to give the local governments authority to handle nuisance beavers and remove beaver dams. The trappers could retain the beaver carcasses. The only drawback was that the local unit of government must issue tags to those hired to harvest the nuisance beavers and place them on the traps being used so that conservation officers could tell that the site was authorized by a governmental unit. Now finally there is a clear path to handle problem beavers.”

Not all the specific information and guidelines are out to local governments yet from the State of Minnesota.

Automba Township Supervisor Deane Rengo said, “We as a township have control trapped nuisance beavers for four years. We spend at least $2,500 per year in the effort. The local conservation officer has given us a permit each year and this effort has helped. Yet we see damage to our roadways every year. Let us see how this new legislation helps us.”

Carlton and Aitkin County Land and Transportation Departments have spent tens of thousands of County revenue dollars to keep roads open and large tracts of valuable timberland from being flooded out. Several trappers in the region keep busy hiring out to the local governments. The price of a beaver pelt continues to range at record lows.


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