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PHOTOS: Wyoming beavers trapped and released to help improve riparian habitat

(Wyoming Game and Fish)

CASPER, Wyo. — The Wyoming Game and Fish Department said on Friday that Sheridan Region Aquatic Habitat Manager Travis Cundy trapped one adult and three yearling beavers from a private property east of Sheridan in September.

The family of beavers were released on Sourdough Creek above Buffalo on the Bighorn National Forest on October 4. Game and Fish and U.S. Forest Service staff had stocked the release site with woody vegetation, which the beavers consumed within a few days.

(Wyoming Game and Fish Department)

Subsequent visits to the release site have confirmed that the beavers are still in the area. Game and Fish adds that additional forage was provided to encourage the beavers to begin caching food for the winter.

The beavers could help improve riparian habitat in the area.

“Dam building by beavers can elevate the local water table, extend late-season stream flows, increase overbank flooding, and encourage new riparian vegetation growth along a stream segment that is incised or disconnected from its floodplain,” Cundy said in Game and Fish’s announcement. “One way to think about this approach is to take a green string with limited riparian area and turn it back into a green ribbon.”

Game and Fish conducts live-trapping of beavers in late summer and early fall as beavers begin to prepare for winter. That makes it more likely beavers will remain near release sites. In order to increase the chance the beavers will remain at the release site, Game and Fish attempts to release mated beaver pairs or family units together.

“If they become established at that site, eventually we hope to see more instream cover and channel complexity available as fish habitat, more streamside vegetation to grow terrestrial bugs and provide shade over the channel to benefit fish, and generally more lush forage and cover for other terrestrial species,” said Cundy.

Cundy also helped with the construction of beaver dam analogs on the Amsden Creek Wildlife Habitat Management Area in September, according to Game and Fish.

“The placement of analogs in specific areas is meant to provide short-term riparian benefits while encouraging beaver to take up permanent residence,” the department said.

(Wyoming Game and Fish Department)