Beaver Sightings

I’ve seen three beavers on the Minnesota River over the past two weeks, while hiking on trails that I’ve been using regularly for many years. I’ve never seen a beaver in the wild before, so this has been a delight, but I’m also wondering why I’m suddenly so fortunate. I’m thinking it’s maybe:

a) I’ve usually hiked with a dog, and maybe the beavers make themselves scarce from that potential predator. My dog is getting more dogpark time, so we hike with just the humans now. I’ve dismissed this as a reason for seeing beaver, since a beaver would be no happier to be seen by people that a dog. In fact, the beavers have been doing the tail slap alert when they notice us.
b) I’m hiking every single day, due to shelter-in-place restrictions, so maybe my odds of seeing wildlife are increased.
c) It’s been a mild April, so I’m on trails that would normally be too icy/muddy for use. Maybe beavers are always active at this point in the spring, but I haven’t been around them.
d) An explosion of the beaver population on this section of the Minnesota River, maybe due to continual flooding of timbered areas.
e) Just good luck.
f) Something else I haven’t thought of?



(moved to Nature Talk as this is not directly related to iNaturalist)

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I don’t have an answer (or knowledgeable opinion) but I wonder if someone at the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge might have some thoughts. (although the staff might all be on furlough now).

I did find an Minnesota Public Radio article about reintroducing beavers to wild areas but it was a national scope and didn’t discuss Minnesota in particular.

oh, and welcome to the forum… from another person who visits the Minnesota River with some regularity. I had to look where your observations were since the Minnesota River covers a bit of territory. But I think we’re in the same general section of the river. :-)

I’ve seen dams (and gnawed trees) but no beavers, yet.


Never underestimate the importance of sampling effort!


Don’t underestimate the impact hiking with a dog has. In general you’ll see far less wildlife hiking with a dog than without. Other animals are very wary of dogs (since canine predators are something they need to watch out for) and if your dog roams around while you’re hiking it’s impacting far more animals than you do


Most of the time beaver sightings are not even sightings, it’s splashes and other sounds, but sometimes they just sit around and live their live without bothering about you. I agree with @Megachile


To me it sounds like a combo of all of the above. You’re pulling from a much larger sample of hikes. Beavers are especially active in the spring; newly mature beavers are kicked out of their lodges and are left to find homes elsewhere, meaning there is now a group of wandering beavers in search of a home. Hiking without a dog does allow you to see more wildlife than you otherwise would.


It may also be that beavers are nocturnal, and are not generally active in mid day, but something is driving them to get out in the day. I’ve seen a lot of beaver activity, but have only seen one alive. I was riding home across a bridge after a night shift (around 0800). I saw what looked like a dead dog, and it turned out to be big old beaver. The river was so high then that it only needed to climb one flight of stairs. I chased it back down those stairs, and hopefully it lived.
Long story short, if you are out and about in the early morning or late evening, your chances of seeing one increase!

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Thanks for the feedback, everyone. mmmiller, maybe I’ll see you out on the trails.

I kind of talked myself out of going to Old Cedar Ave Bridge today. :-) A bit too windy for the bridge - esp. since I’d likely be facing into the wind to view most of the waterfowl.

(for all you in a warm climate, we have snow on the ground here and the wind is blowing - and now, I look out the window and I see… more SNOW!)

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I had my first beaver sighting recently. I had been told in the past that a beaver was here or there but either I didn’t notice or it wasn’t there anymore. A week or two ago at a local (very urban/suburban park) I noticed trademark beaver architecture. At first, I thought it was a human joke or meant as educational. Then, I saw the beaver across the embankment. Observation: . I saw the alive animal under the tree on the other side of the bank.

I had for some reason thought they were uncommon, but they’re not at all, and looking at nearby observations on iNat confirmed that. All these years of hanging out in nature and seeing one when I don’t expect it!

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