The San Marcos river is home to many types of wildlife, but one species that is getting more attention as of late is the beaver.
Beavers are a protected wildlife species in Texas, and are found all over the state. While the exact number of beavers in the San Marcos River is unknown, their population is believed to have grown in recent years, said Jenna Winters, coordinator at the San Marcos Nature Center.
“The beavers have always been here, although the numbers have increased lately,” Winters said. “This is a good thing and a positive reflection on the quality of habitat surrounding the river.”
Wildlife officials said that building dams can result in beavers pulling up plants along the riverbed. In order for the beavers to construct dams, they must tear down surrounding plants for building materials, Winters said.
According to the PAWS organization’s website, beavers are most active during the summer months, when they take advantage of receding water levels that make their work easier. The main areas on the river that are affected by this small-scale deforestation are downstream outside of the city limits, and in the Spring Lake area, Winters said.
“The beavers are just doing what it is beavers do, no other real reason than they eat the bark and plant material and use the leftover wood to build dams.” Winters said.
According to the website of the New York State Department of Environmental conservation, most beavers prefer aspens and willow trees to eat, but will eat the leaves, twigs and bark of most species of woody plants found along the edge of water.
Thomas Hardy, chief science officer for The Meadows Center for Water and the Environment, says this behavior is common in beavers.
“Beavers always leave a stream to do what beavers do, feed and obtain housing materials, like birds build nests,” Hardy said. “The beavers are doing what beavers have always done.”
According to the Texas Parks and Wildlife website, most dam building is done at night, so beavers typically do not come into contact with people, much less maim them.
Hardy does not know of any private property in the area having been destroyed by a beaver.
“I would not say they destroy plants,” Hardy said. “They eat some and use others for building their home.”
If a homeowner wished for peace of mind that their property is safe from becoming a source of construction materials for a dam, protecting a yard from beavers is simple, Hardy said.
“Homeowners can wrap the trunk of their trees with metal shielding,” Hardy said. “That usually prevents the beavers from causing any harm.”
No complaints have been placed soliciting beavers as a problem in the San Marcos area.