Georgia Wildlife Resources Division
2070 U.S. Hwy. 278, SE, Social Circle, GA 30025
From an ecological standpoint, beavers are one of the most important animals in Georgia. Other than man, no animal makes such dramatic landscape changes to the habitat in which they live. Ponds created from beaver dams provide excellent wetland habitat for numerous plants and animals. Beaver ponds are critical habitat for many species of waterfowl and other migratory birds.
Landowners benefit from having beaver ponds on their property in the form of additional hunting, fishing and bird watching opportunities. Beaver ponds are useful for irrigation, flood control and help maintain water tables during droughts. Beaver ponds also act as a natural filtration system, removing silt and other impurities from water.
Historically, beavers had a positive impact on the economy and were the most widely and intensively sought natural resource in North America during the 1700's and 1800's. Their fur was used for clothing, especially hats in Europe during the 1800's. Oil from their castor glands was an essential component in many high quality perfumes. Beaver coats and other garments were extremely desirable throughout much of North America.
Today, beavers remain one of the most valued fur sources, yet prices remain relatively low, especially in Georgia. Southern furs are considered poor quality when compared to furs from the North. However, beavers are still desirable for coats, hats and other outer garments and their castor glands are marketable for use in the lure or perfume industry.
In recent times, beavers are considered by some to have more negative economic impacts than positive. Flooding caused by dams may result in damaged timber, crops or pasture. Highway departments may spend thousands of dollars every year attempting to clear beaver plugged culverts or paying trappers for nuisance beaver removal. When feeding, beavers girdle and destroy trees and shrubs, some of which are highly valued and expensive. Beavers will feed on agricultural crops, especially corn and soybeans, resulting in diminished yields for the farmer. Beavers often may damage fish and farm ponds through den and dam construction.