How to Tear Down a Beaver Dam

We bet that’s not a problem that you ever thought you’d need to Google in your lifetime, but it would appear that wild animals, including beavers, are encroaching into human territory more and more frequently these days. We’ll get the bad news out the way nice and early – tearing down the beaver dam is not going to be quite as easy a challenge as you first may have thought. There is a lot of stuff to take into consideration, on top of the actual animal problem itself, and you must remember that this damn is very effective. It holds back water, cleverly woven from twigs, branches, leaves, and mud, all tightly packed together to create a virtually waterproof seal. As you can imagine, tearing down something that has been shown to stand the test of nature-time is going to be no easy feat.

Water, Water, Everywhere

A beaver dam is designed to hold back water, and as we’ve established, it does that rather effectively. That means when you release the seal, tearing down the dam and letting the water flow free, it really will do that – flow free. If you’re not prepared for that, it could bowl you over, causing injury. Even if you are prepared for it, the land that you release the water onto may not be. If the dam has been there for some time, the existing water-bed will be dry, especially during the warmer weather of the summer. The baked-dry ground will then not absorb the water as it should, and this could lead to excess levels of surface water. As you can imagine, in areas where flooding could cause extensive damage, this is not an activity you will want to encourage.

Ignorance is Bliss

Sadly, you can’t just ignore a beaver dam. The beaver won’t be content with it being just the size it is, and they’ll continue to pack the structure with twigs, branches, and packed-tight mud until it gets bigger and bigger and bigger. They know no limits, they’ll just keep going.

If the water is necessary through the original path, the removal of that water will be detrimental to the wildlife. Existing animals won’t be able to drink from a dry lake, river or stream bed, and beaver dams really do have the potential to stop rivers. They can build these structures to a phenomenal size, blocking the smallest of streams right up to the largest of rivers. This is even more so the case if they are left to their own devices for a long time.

Danger, Danger

We’ve already briefly touched upon the dangers of tearing down a beaver dam, but it’s time to look at them in more detail. Removal of a beaver dam removes taking down a structure that will not just allow water to flow through, but also isn’t exactly considered to be structurally safe. If you remove just one part of that damn, you may just take the wrong piece, allowing the entire thing to crumble and fall. Unless you’re skilled in understanding how these creatures build their dams, it’s not wise to try to tear it down by yourself, without the advice (at least) from a professional.

Do you know the entirety of the river, stream or body of water that you’re breaking the dam down in? If you don’t know what’s downstream, you could cause a backlog of water, especially if more beaver dams are present further down the route. This can often be the case, and will not just lead to flooding, once again, but can also be dangerous to humans and animals alike.


As with most wild animals, there are a number of legalities to take into consideration before performing any kind of dam removal work. In certain states across the USA there are laws on both state and federal levels surrounding wetlands. You won’t want to violate these rules by removing the beaver dam, and this is most definitely the case if the removal of the dam causes extensive flooding and damage further down the line. In some cases you may even be held accountable for this, because it was your actions that caused it.


In short, the removal and tear-down of beaver dams is a process that you won’t be able to complete overnight, and in some cases, your removal of the dam won’t even be effective at all. The beavers will just come back, particularly if you haven’t taken preventative measures to keep them at bay also.