Beaver burrowing

Information about beaver
burrowing conflicts

Beavers are strong, able burrowers and can readily excavate burrows, chambers and canals for shelter and access to food. Such structures can collapse and may increase bank-side erosion. Any land-manager tackling a beaver burrowing conflict should seek professional advice from the relevant regulatory authority as work needs to be carried out without causing pollution and consideration needs to be given to animal welfare.

Make Space

  • The majority of burrowing conflicts arise in places where watercourses are confined between engineered banks or flood walls.
  • Where these structures exist < 20m from the main channel beavers can create burrows which can decrease the integrity of  the main structure.
  • Where these structures are set back from the main channel by > 20m the impact of beaver burrowing is insignificant.
  • Designs of new earth embankments should incorporate space between the bank and channel and, where opportunities occur, re-align existing banks. 


  • Naturalised earth banks are more resistant to burrow collapse. Planting fast growing, native species such as willow which develop a root complex will support the bank structure but will also provide a food resource which may assist in discouraging beavers from foraging inland.
  • Certain burrows, such as short, non-chambered or unoccupied collapsed burrows maybe infilled to prevent re-use. Advice should be sought prior to such actions to determine beaver occupation status and regulations on materials to use.

Licensing in Each Country:

As of 1st October 2022 beavers are recognised as a European Protected Species in England.

Protecting banks from beaver burrowing and removing a burrow that has collapsed to the point where it can no longer be used, does not require a licence but addressing a conflict caused by a burrow that is still usable does require a licence under the current management framework, even if it is not in current use.

If you own or manage land that is affected by beaver burrowing, go to: Beavers: how to manage them and when you need a licence – GOV.UK ( for more information

As of 1st May 2019 beavers are a recognised as a European Protected Species in Scotland.

Protecting banks from beaver burrowing does not require a licence but addressing a conflict caused by an established burrow may require a licence under the current management framework.

If you own or manage land that is affected by beaver burrowing contact NatureScot by email on or by phone on 01463 725 000

Beavers are not currently a protected species in Wales.

If you own or manage land that is affected by beaver burrowing contact the Welsh Beaver Project for support on 

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Our team is here to help

Dr Roisin Campbell-Palmer

Head of Restoration

Dr Robert Needham

Restoration Manager

Sheelagh McAllister

Field Officer

Alana Skilbeck

Restoration Project Officer

Our restoration team have worked on beaver reintroduction projects across Britain and Europe and are highly experienced in beaver management and conflict resolution. If you own of manage land that is affected by beavers email them at for FREE advice.

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