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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


The North American beaver (Castor canadensis) plays a key ecological role in wetland systems, yet their activities can result in costly damage to human infrastructure. Although qualitative research on human perceptions of beavers is rare, studies on human–beaver conflict in the United States identified generally positive attitudes toward beavers and opposition to lethal management, yet in Alberta, Canada, 79% of municipalities that managed beavers reported using trapping and shooting to remove problem beavers. Given the important ecological contributions of beavers and their potential conflict with humans, qualitative research is needed to assess perspectives of stakeholders who directly experience beaver-related impacts. To address this need, from August to September 2014, we conducted semi-structured, in-person interviews with 9 residents who lived in rural areas of Beaver County, Alberta, Canada, where the potential for human–beaver conflict was high. This pilot study involved purposive sampling to select a sample of county residents who had direct interactions with beavers on or adjacent to their properties. We found that perceptions of beaver-related impacts varied across individuals, although many respondents emphasized negative impacts to agricultural production. There were also conflicts concerning local government management actions, including both support for and opposition to lethal control. This lack of consensus among the public poses a challenge to management agencies that lack time and resources to consult with all stakeholders on a multitude of issues related to human–wildlife interactions. However, our results suggest that consultation with landowners by the government is necessary to fully understand the negative impacts residents experience, the positive impacts they desire, and the socially acceptable means for managing them.