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Muskrats, Beavers, and Otters

Watch a video on aquatic animals around ponds including mammals.

Beaver may tunnel into dams, stop up overflow pipes and spillways, and destroy nearby timber.Although muskrats and beavers pose no problems to fish, they can be nuisances. Occasionally they will burrow or tunnel into the dam or shoreline just below water level. Many times these tunnels collapse and create shallow areas where aquatic plants may grow. Muskrats and beavers will usually not tunnel through a properly constructed dam, but excessive tunneling can weaken the dam and cause serious leaks. In addition,

 beavers can stop up overflow pipes and spillways, which can lead to breaching of dams during heavy rains. The destruction of timber is also a concern to most pond owners.

Muskrats and beavers can be controlled by trapping or shooting. Contact local conservation officers to determine legal means to capture or kill these animals. An electric fence is also an effective method to prevent muskrats and beavers from entering the pond.

River Otter Photograph Courtesy of the US Fish and Wildlife ServiceMany pond owners are concerned about otters consuming their fish. Otters cause very little problems in bass-bream ponds due to the high reproductive rates of these fish species. Sufficient numbers of young fish are produced to more than replace those eaten by otters. However, if control is desired, the methods used on muskrats and beavers are equally effective. The northern river otter is protected so a conservation officer should be contacted before control measures are taken.

The information above came from the Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division's booklet Sportfish Management in Alabama Ponds, which is available as a PDF.

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