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|Castor mounds are used by beavers to mark their territory. Beavers
are very territorial and will keep these mounds as sentinals telling all
passing beavers that this area is inhabited and to stay out. Beavers
will dive to the bottom and bring up water soaked leaves, mud and debris
and place it on the bank, usually within two feet of the shoreline.
It then deposits a secretion from its castors on this pile of debris to
mark the mound. These castor mounds come in different sizes depending
on how long the beavers have been using the mound.
Castor mound - x marks approach being used to the mound
Castor mounds should not be confused with scent mounds. What I call scent mounds are what look like miniature castor mounds, but usually there are a number of them side by side. These are markers made by the beavers in the late winter or early spring to attract mates. You don't want to set these like castor mounds because the beavers don't react to them like they do to the territorial markers.
This is shows what scent mounds look like
When the beaver makes a castor mound, or applies more debris to a castor mound, it dives to the bottom, gathers the material for the mound, holds the material in both front paws against its chest and goes to the castor mound. When the beaver's chin or chest makes contact with the approachway, it will put its rear feet down and make a powerful lunge to get the rest of its body into shallower water. It then puts its tail on the bottom for stability and on its hind feet it waddles up the bank to deposit the debris on the mound. The key here is that it doesn't usually use its front feet to help it climb up the bank. The trap should be set for the back foot and be positioned where the beaver's hind foot will make contact on its approach.
Drawing of castor mound on steep approach
A trap bed needs to be made for the trap. Since the beaver will put its tail down and because the beaver will contact the bank with its body before putting down its back feet, the trap should be in a trap bed that is made as a depression in the bottom. The trap should actually be in a hole so that the beaver needs to step down into the hole. This will help avoid empty fired traps.
Drawing of trap in the trap bed and connected to a drowning rig
The distance from the bank to where the trap is bedded is dependent upon the contour of the bank. If it's a steep contoured bank, the trap will be set deep, but not far out from the bank. In the event of a shallow approach, the trap will be in shallower water, but farther from the bank. This trap placement is something that comes easier with experience. A rule of thumb is to measure from where you expect the beaver to make contact with the bank, using the distance from your hand to your elbow to the trap. This distance will be more down than out in a steep bank situation, and the opposite in a shallow bank situation.
Shallow approach to a castor mound
Because the beaver is wide and its feet are offset from the center of
its body, the trap needs to be set to one side or the other of the approach
to the castor mound.
Front view of castor mound set
Because the hind foot of the beaver is very large, the larger seven and a half inch jaw spread traps, such as the #5, get a better hold on that large foot. Check your laws though, because there are some states where the larger traps are not legal to set. Use the largest foothold trap that is legal in your area.
Use a castor base lure on the mound and the beaver will come to the mound to cover up the beaver castor odor you placed on the mound, and replace it with his own castor smell to let the suspected intruder know this is his territory and to stay out.
Animals normally used for:
Beaver - This set is very effective in the fall through spring.