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Beaver thrive in Saltwater, New Study Reveals

Posted By : The Animal Facts Editorial Team

Date: November 21, 2021 1:45 am

American beaver study Oregon Zoo

File photo of an American beaver

Photo Credit: Public Domain

A new study conducted by The Wetlands Conservancy and supported by a grant from the Oregon Zoo Foundation has revealed that American beavers can live along the coast.

The survey took in estuaries from Yaquina Bay to the Salmon River and was able to find dams and lodges in areas from which they were not previously recorded.

"We've always thought too much saltwater would kill a beaver, but then we started to see evidence up in Washington of them living on the coast and actually building their dams in tidally influenced areas," said Katie Ryan, executive director of The Wetlands Conservancy. "That led us to question what's happening here in Oregon."

Beavers are considered ecosystem engineers and have been credited with reducing wildfire and drought impact by creating wetlands through building dams. The new understanding of their behavior will impact management of coastal communities in Oregon as Ryan explained.

"A lot of the tidal wetlands on the coast have been dewatered for agriculture, and for them to function as an ecosystem, they need to have water," she said. "Beavers are helping to bring the water back to those areas, creating critical habitat for juvenile and adult salmon, and many other species."

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Following a pilot program the study will now be expanded to Oregon's southern coast to determine if the estuaries are used by beavers ear round and do they change the salinity in their habitat.

It is hoped that these results can help inform land-management decisions and aid in human-beaver coexistence.

"Beavers are one of the most influential species on the landscape," said Amy Cutting, who oversees the zoo's North America area. "They're incredibly important to the health of our ecosystems, and healthy estuaries provide a buffer against storms."

Nowadays Oregon is known for its beaver population but during the 19th century they were hunted to near extinction for their fur. Fortunately they were restored through re-establishment programs and the introduction of hunting regulations.

Learn more about American Beavers here – American beaver Fact File | The Animal Facts

Learn more about the Oregon Zoo on their website – Oregon Zoo

A video showcasing the results of the study which shows that beavers can live in saltwater

Video Credit: Oregon Zoo

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