The American beaver (Castor canadensis) is a semi-aquatic animal that belongs to the Rodentia family. This mammal is an excellent swimmer and thrives in freshwater habitats with lots of vegetation at the water’s edge.
As common as the beaver’s types of habitats are, one might wonder if the rodent is as common a sight as its smaller relatives. Where can we find beavers?
Join Floofmania’s global tour in discovering the places where the beaver can be found today. Who knows, maybe beavers can be found close to where you live!
Are There Beavers All Over The World?
Table of Contents
- 1 Are There Beavers All Over The World?
- 2 Where In The US Can Beavers Be Found?
- 3 Are There Beavers In Canada?
- 4 Can Beavers Be Found In South and Latin America?
- 5 Are There Beavers In Europe?
- 6 Are There Beavers In Australia?
- 7 Can Beavers Be Found In Africa?
- 8 Are There Places Where Beavers Are Considered An Invasive Species?
The North American beaver is endemic to the North American continent with a range and distribution covering three countries (Canada, the US, and Mexico). They inhabit ponds, slow-moving rivers and streams, marshes, and other forms of wetlands in North America.
There are only two living beaver species today. Aside from the American beaver, there’s the Eurasian beaver (Castor fiber). Both species were once abundant and widely distributed across several continents (North America, Europe, and Asia) but were driven to near extinction at the start of the 20th century.
Today, the numbers of these resilient rodents have fortunately started to rise.
Where In The US Can Beavers Be Found?
The American beaver can be found in almost all of the 50 US states. There are just a few areas where the beaver is rarely seen or totally absent. This is a very long list so let’s better get started.
US States With Beavers
- Alabama (AL) – The beaver can be found in all 67 counties of Alabama. Any wet habitat in the state has a decent possibility of beavers living in it.
- Alaska (AK) – Beavers call the forested areas of Alaska their home. They avoid the very cold and permanently frozen areas though. It has been said that beavers are speeding up the warming climate in the region due to their ability to thaw frozen water and soil (permafrost) through their extensive dam building.
- Arizona (AZ) – Beavers can be seen in rivers, streams, and canals, particularly in San Pedro, Phoenix, and Parker. Beavers in the state usually live in dens along the water edges instead of building lodges.
- Arkansas (AR) – The state has an abundance of beavers and they allow the catching and trapping of animals during the fur season. All 75 counties of Arkansas have their share of beaver populations.
- California (CA) – Beavers are highly regarded as a keystone species in this state. They are important in maintaining the diversity in the wetlands and forested areas of California. However, some local authorities consider the beaver a detrimental species as beaver colonies have crept into residential and urban areas causing property destruction.
- Colorado (CO) – The San Juan mountains are filled with beavers that help in prolonging the flow of rivers during summertime. The beaver is protected in the region thus allowing their currently low population to grow at record speed.
- Connecticut (CT) – The state was once abundant with beavers but with the rise of the fur trade in the 1800s, the animals were almost driven to extinction. Today, beaver hunting and trapping are regulated.
- Delaware (DE) – The Northeast areas of the state are filled with beavers that have become a nuisance to landowners. On a positive note, natural wildlife populations have also flourished due to the ecosystems built by the beavers.
- Florida (FL) – The upper peninsula of the state is where beavers thrive. Unlike their counterparts that live in northern states and build lodges, Florida beavers live in dens along stream banks.
- Georgia (GA) – The streams, ponds, and other wetlands of Georgia are filled with beavers. They are just all over the place.
- Idaho (ID) – This is the state where beavers were parachuted into the wilderness in the 1940s for translocation. Unfortunately, the beavers went back to the urban areas where their natural habitat was located. Today, the residents and beavers get along well.
- Illinois (IL) – Illinois beavers can be found in rivers, ponds, streams, ditches, canals, and backwater embayments. Interestingly enough, most beavers live in excavated burrows rather than in lodges. Beavers are surprisingly good at digging!
- Indiana (IN) – In the 1840s, the beaver went extinct in the state due to overhunting. The animals were reintroduced in 1935 and are now thriving in all of the state’s 92 counties. They live on thousands of acres and 8,000 miles of flowing water.
- Iowa (IA) – Native to the state, the beaver is abundant and thriving in Iowa. Most residents are concerned as damaged crops and flooded waterways have become quite common due to the rodent’s presence. Trapping and hunting beavers in the state is regulated.
- Kansas (KS) – The all-year abundance of the water supply has helped the beavers spread across the state. Healthy populations can be found in all streams as well as in wetland areas in Kansas.
- Kentucky (KY) – The American beaver is thriving in Kentucky. Its numbers are as high as they ever were before the fur trade began in the 1800s. However, the problems the rodents bring from their damming and cutting of protected trees have given the residents a lot of headaches.
- Louisiana (LA) – Beavers are found all throughout the state but the southeast areas are where the most concentrated populations are located.
- Maine (ME) – State laws in Maine prohibit the hunting and catching of beavers. This has led to the blowing up of the rodent population. It is estimated that there are more than 80,000 beavers in the state.
- Maryland (MD) – The rodent calls the northeastern parts of the state its home. Beavers are a common sight in the region and their population is managed through controlled fur trading.
- Massachusetts (MA) – The state has an abundance of beavers, especially in the southeastern areas. Although it is illegal to hunt beavers in the state, government agencies control the population explosion by conducting yearly trapping and euthanasia.
- Michigan (MI) – Beaver population has increased in the past decades in Southwest Michigan. Their presence has become a cause of concern as some beaver families have moved into man-made canals and ditches which has caused a lot of flooding.
- Minnesota (MN) – Each of Minnesota’s 87 counties has its own beaver population problem, they are forced to attend to. Fruit and shade trees, as well as farmlands, are repeatedly gnawed on by the beavers causing significant damage to the residents’ livelihoods.
- Mississippi (MS) – The beaver’s existence in the state has changed in the last 100 years from being a game species to a protected species. Today, the animal is treated as a nuisance with overblown populations that a bounty of $5 is paid per beaver tail presented to the state agencies. Beavers are no longer a protected species in Mississippi.
- Missouri (MO) – The fast, fluctuating streams in the state prevent the beaver from building their lodges and instead live in dens on high banks. There are enough beavers in Missouri that an annual fur harvest is allowed.
- Montana (MT) – Beavers are classified as furbearers in Montana. Only residents with licenses are allowed to hunt them during a designated hunting season.
- Nebraska (NE) – Beavers in Nebraska build lodges as well as dens for their homes. The beaver population in Nebraska has now grown causing concern among residents. One will need a permit before trapping or shooting the pesky rodent is allowed.
- Nevada (NV) – Beavers are common in the state’s wetland reserves and stream channels. However, the rodents avoid the hot, dry desert areas of Nevada.
- New Hampshire (NH) – The beaver went extinct In New Hampshire in the 1800s. In 1940, 48 beavers were reintroduced to the state. By 1955, this group’s descendants have grown in numbers to the thousands and are now living throughout the state.
- New Jersey (NJ) – The state can boast of having more than 10 million beavers; most are concentrated in the northwest areas. State laws allow every license-holder to hunt up to 250 animals per permit.
- New Mexico (NM) – There are about 6,000 beavers in New Mexico. A chunk of the population lives in the northern portion of the state. Albeit protected, trapping and hunting beavers is allowed in the state.
- New York (NY) – The beaver is New York state’s official mammal. They live in slow-moving bodies of water where there are aspen, alder, and willow trees in the vicinity.
- North Carolina (NC) – There are over half a million beavers living in North Carolina. The animal is treated both as an asset and a nuisance. The beaver went extinct in the state during the fur trade explosion in the 1800s. 29 beavers were reintroduced in 1939 and their descendants are thriving until this very day.
- North Dakota (ND) – The beaver is quite a common sight in this state and residents do not welcome the animal’s presence. It’s open season for beaver hunting and trapping all year long.
- Ohio (OH) – The eastern and southern areas of the state where there are a lot of forested ponds, lakes, and rivers are where you can find beavers. There are about 161 beaver colonies tracked and monitored as of 2019.
- Oklahoma (OK) – Residents of Oklahoma are not happy about the beaver’s presence in the state. The animals can be hunted and trapped any time of the year as long as the person or company has the permit and other paperwork to show.
- Oregon (OR) – One can see beavers along the Willamette and Tualatin Rivers. The beaver is Oregon’s state animal. The rodent population in the state is relatively healthy but continuous habitat loss is said to affect their numbers in the near future.
- Pennsylvania (PA) – The beaver can be found throughout the state. The northwestern and northeastern counties hold the majority of beaver populations. With the population starting to grow, Pennsylvanians are considering extending the annual week-long hunting and trapping season.
- Rhode Island (RI) – Rhode Island’s general laws classify the beaver as a furbearer. There is a designated open season for hunting and catching beavers in the state. Random hunting of beavers or any local wildlife is strictly prohibited with serious consequences. Beaver populations can be found in the northeast areas.
- South Carolina (SC) – Beavers can be found in all 46 South Carolina counties. The fur-bearing animals are protected in the state and trapping is only allowed from December 1 through March 1 or when they start building dams within 100 feet of a residence.
- South Dakota (SD) – The largest rodent in North America can be found state-wide in South Dakota. The beaver population is concentrated in the Black Hills Forest area. However, reports are saying that the numbers have been declining over the decades. State officials don’t seem to be alarmed or concerned and have instead expanded the five-month hunting season to an all-year-round permit.
- Tennessee (TN) – The beaver can be found all across the state. A year-long hunting and open season for beavers is currently going on in Tennessee.
- Texas (TX) – Considered a native of the state, the beaver can be found in the wooded wetlands of northeastern Texas. It is not unusual finding beavers in urban and suburban areas as well.
- Utah (UT) – The state of Utah considers the beaver protected wildlife. The great reduction of the animal population brought about by fur trading in the 1800s has also affected the state’s landscape. Although trapping is still allowed in Utah, captured beavers are reintroduced to areas of the state with cottonwood, willow, and aspen trees.
- Vermont (VT) – Beavers were reintroduced in Vermont in the 1920s. They can now be seen along wooded wetlands across the state but their population has never grown back to its original numbers. State laws prohibit residents from hunting the animals themselves and advise them to refer beaver problems to local authorities.
- Virginia (VA) – The beaver is present in every county of the state. It is estimated that their numbers are at least 100,000 after several individuals were reintroduced in the 1930s.
- Washington (WA) – After the native beaver population went extinct in the 1920’s several attempts of introduction has been conducted in Washington. Their numbers are gradually increasing but are still far from their original numbers. Efforts in restoring the beaver population in the region, particularly in rebuilding salmon habitat, are ongoing.
- West Virginia (WV) – There are beavers in every West Virginia county today after the species was almost completely exterminated by 1825. Reintroduction efforts in the past century have been successful.
- Wisconsin (WI) – Beavers were once abundant in Wisconsin. Today, beaver sightings are starting to get rarer each year. Current estimates place the beaver population in the state to be at 27,000. It may still look like a large number, but population growth has been dwindling since the early 2000s.
- Wyoming (WY) – The beaver population in the state continues to plummet. Hunting and trapping beavers in the state are encouraged by authorities. Fortunately, there are still groups and individuals who prefer relocating beavers rather than selling their pelts.
US States With No Beavers
- Hawaii (HI) – The state is outside of the North American continent. There are no beavers here.
Although the beaver can be found in all but one US state, there are areas in these territories where the rodent cannot be found. The following are specific places without beavers living in them:
- Desert areas of Nevada, California, Utah, and Arizona.
- Peninsula of Florida.
- Extreme northern tundra of Alaska.
Are There Beavers In Canada?
The beaver is native to Canada. They live in rivers, creeks, and lakes of floodplain habitats all across the country. They can oftentimes be seen in creeks of urban and suburban cities as well.
It is estimated that there are 6-12 million beavers in Canada. The largest concentration of the beaver population is located in British Columbia.
Beavers love to build “beaver structures” and change their own environment to their liking. Using logs, twigs, leaves, and mud, the rodents build dams, canals, and lodges that greatly impact the ecosystem and all the species living with them.
An average beaver dam in Canada ranges from 32 to 328 feet long. However, in Alberta’s Wood Buffalo National Park, satellite imaging has discovered the largest and longest beaver dam measuring 2788 feet. Perhaps we can call it the “Great Beaver Wall of Alberta”.
Can Beavers Be Found In South and Latin America?
Beavers are not native to South and Central America. However, there was an incident in which 20 beavers from Canada were introduced to Argentina in 1946.
The animals were brought to Lake Fagnano in the Tierra Del Fuego archipelago, the southernmost province in the country. The Argentinian military brought in the animals to start a fur trade in the country.
The fur trade never happened while the beaver’s population exploded at epic proportions. What made the situation worse was the miscalculation of the effects of the animals’ presence in Patagonia. The soldiers did not know much about the beaver’s behavior and its relationships with other species in their natural habitat.
Beavers do not have any natural predators in Argentina, and the rodents’ population cannot be controlled, so they quickly dispersed across the wide steppes and forests.
Moreover, the plants and trees in Argentina are far different from the fast-growing trees found in Canada. Willow, beech, and alder trees quickly resprout while the South American trees do not.
The Canadian trees’ saplings also produce chemicals to protect themselves from the beaver. That’s the reason why beavers leave the small trees alone. Their South American counterparts do not have such a defensive mechanism.
In the aftermath of the beaver’s destruction of the southern Argentinian plant life, all that was left were the 31,000 hectares of barren lands.
In addition, the beaver supported the proliferation of two other invasive species—the muskrat and the mink. What is happening in Argentina now is what scientists call an invasive meltdown process in which native species are getting wiped out by invasive species.
That’s not all! By the 1960s, the beaver invasion spread to the neighboring territories in Chile. Since the 1990s the beaver’s presence has been observed on the Chilean mainland.
Are There Beavers In Europe?
The Eurasian beaver once lived across several countries in Europe and Asia. Due to overhunting, their numbers plummeted to a mere thousand during the early 1900s.
Today, the rodents are living in small numbers across the following countries:
- Southern Scandinavia
Since then, the Eurasian beaver has come back strong. Their numbers today are estimated to be over 30 million in Europe and some parts of Asia.
Beaver Reintroduction In The UK And Scotland
The Eurasian beaver went extinct in the UK in the 1600s. But through legal and illegal reintroduction, the beaver can now be seen in the areas of Cornwall, Kent, Devon, and several areas in Scotland.
There are also several beavers kept in a 60,000 square meter enclosure in Enfield. Plans are on the way for the release of the animals into various areas in the UK.
The American Beaver’s Introduction To Europe And Asia Was A Mistake
Due to the rapid decline of the Eurasian beaver population in the 1930s, several North American beavers were introduced into Finland, Sweden, Poland, France, and Russia.
In 1935, repopulation efforts in Finland reintroduced a number of Eurasian beavers in 5 locations in the north and southwest areas of the country. The beavers were coming from Norway which saved about 100 remaining individuals.
The number of Eurasian beavers sent was not enough for the repopulation program. The requested number of additional beavers could not be provided by the Norwegian government. As a substitute, American beavers from New York were used to repopulate some areas of Finland.
Ten years after the reintroduction program, live-trapped beavers were released in the north and eastern areas of Finland. The beavers released on the eastern side rapidly spread to the Russian town of Karelia.
In the succeeding years, more American beavers were released in Finland and Karelia. By 2003, the population of American beavers, in Karelia alone, had reached 8,000 individuals. For unknown reasons, the Eurasian beaver in the area was only 1,500.
One thing that has bothered scientists is: that the growth of the Eurasian beaver population is severely hindered whenever the American beaver is around. There seems to be competition between the two species. The conclusion was both species cannot coexist. One must be removed in order for another to thrive. Sorry, American beaver!
If you’re wondering why the reintroduction program used an alien species (American beaver) instead of the native Eurasian beaver, the answer may sound funny. During the time of the reintroduction, both American beaver and Eurasian beaver were classified as one species.
It was only several decades later that scientists discovered that each species has unique features the other doesn’t have. For starters, the Eurasian beaver has 48 chromosomes while the American beaver only has 40 chromosomes!
Are There Beavers In Australia?
There are no beavers or any related species in Australia. The rodents that can be found in the continent are all from the rats and mice family. The Australian continent geographically is separated from the rest of the world—and that has been going on for hundreds of millions of years.
Its plant and animal species and ecosystems are also quite unique. Through evolution and natural selection, the endemic animals have maintained the balance in the environment they’re in. So species similar to the beaver do not have a place in Australia.
Strict Australian laws also prevent the introduction of alien species into the country. One cannot bring any plant or animal to the country without extensive scrutiny. However, there are still animals that have been purposely brought in legally or otherwise. The beaver though is not one of them.
Can Beavers Be Found In Africa?
You cannot find any beavers in Africa. The African continent has a variety of rodent species but none of them look or behave like beavers.
Are There Places Where Beavers Are Considered An Invasive Species?
Invasive species are animals and plants that are not native to a given environment. The presence of invasive species can alter habitats and entire ecosystems. This is what happened in Tierra del Fuego in Argentina and in Chile when beavers were introduced in the 1940s. The same can also be said with the American beaver’s introduction in Russia, Finland, Poland, France, and Sweden.
American beavers are a resilient bunch. As invasive species, they are highly adaptive animals that can survive and thrive in non-native environments and make them their own. It’s just too bad that their world-renowned engineering skills have instead destroyed habitats and displaced other species.
Cute and cuddly they may be, beavers are animals you don’t want to invade places they don’t naturally belong.
Author: Jomvie Reyes
Jomvie has been a writer for over 10 years and animals and wildlife are among his favorite topics. Learning and writing about the vast and diverse wildlife from all over the world, is more of a hobby than a job for him. Jomvie loves to watch and observe these remarkable species up close and personal.