Interim code of practice: beaver dam removal

1.0 About this code of practice

This code of practice outlines national best practices for the removal of beaver dams. Beaver dams need to be removed or breached periodically to protect, maintain or construct infrastructure or to avoid the flooding of private or public land. Dam removal is normally accomplished using hand tools, or mechanical equipment such as backhoes. Be aware that the removal of a beaver dam may not necessarily prevent future beaver activity in the area.

Potential impacts to fish and fish habitat from the removal of beaver dams could include, but are not limited to, direct damage to substrates, release of accumulated sediments, loss of riparian habitat and stranding of fish. It is therefore important to exercise caution when proceeding with dam removal due to the possibility of downstream flooding and damage and the re-entry of dam material into the water body.

This code of practice allows for the removal of a beaver dam which is impounding water that may cause imminent threat of damage to nearby infrastructure, or is obstructing fish passage.

A project review by DFO is not required when the conditions and measures set out in this code of practice and all applicable measures to protect fish and fish habitat are applied.

This code does not remove or replace the obligation to comply with all applicable statutory and regulatory requirements of the Fisheries Act, Species at Risk Act, or other federal, provincial, or municipal legislation and policies.

2.0 You can use this code of practice if

Request a project near water review when the works, undertakings and activities do not meet all of the criteria listed in this section.

3.0 Measures to protect fish and fish habitat

3.1 Protection of fish

3.2 Protection of the riparian zone

3.3 Protection of aquatic habitat

3.4 Protection of fish habitat from sedimentation

3.5 Protection of fish and fish habitat from deleterious substances (including suspended sediment)

3.6 Additional measures for beaver dam removal

4.0 Notification

When making use of this code of practice, please submit a Notification Form (PDF, 50 KB) to your regional DFO office to help us improve this fish and fish habitat protection guidance over time.

It is your Duty to Notify DFO if you have caused, or are about to cause, the unauthorized death of fish by means other than fishing and/or the harmful alteration, disruption or destruction of fish habitat. Such notifications should be directed to the Fish and Fish Habitat Protection Program.

5.0 Contact us

If you have questions regarding this code of practice contact the Fish and Fish Habitat Protection Program located in your region.

6.0 Glossary

Deleterious substance
Any substance that, if added to any water, would degrade or alter or form part of a process of degradation or alteration of the quality of that water so that it is rendered or is likely to be rendered deleterious to fish or fish habitat or to the human use of fish that frequent that water.
Ordinary high-water mark
The usual or average level to which a body of water rises at its highest point and remains for sufficient time to change the characteristics of the land. In flowing waters (e.g., rivers, streams) this refers to the "active channel/bank-full level" which is often the 1:2 year flood flow return level. In inland lakes, wetlands or marine environments it refers to those parts of the water body, bed and banks that are frequently flooded by water so as to leave a mark on the land and where the natural vegetation changes from predominately aquatic vegetation to terrestrial vegetation (excepting water tolerant species). For reservoirs this refers to normal high operating levels (i.e. full supply level).
Riparian zone
Area adjacent to streams, lakes, and wetlands that support a unique mixture of water tolerant vegetation from trees and shrubs to aquatic and herbaceous plants.