Home > River Run Network > Release the Beavers!

Release the Beavers!

Help beavers reclaim their role as a keystone species in the Santa Cruz and San Pedro watersheds! Wiped out by trappers in the 1800s, they are returning to restore out desert rivers.

Beaver dam and beaver pond on the San Pedro RiverPhoto credit: Colin H Richard

Why Beavers?

Beavers are one of the best local helpers for restoring desert creeks and rivers. Beavers build dams that slow down creek and river flow, a process that helps flowing water sink into the aquifer below and recharges groundwater! At the same time, beavers create critical wetland habitat—ciénegas—for our Sonoran Desert ecosystems.


Historically, beavers played a key role in maintaining watershed health for the Santa Cruz and San Pedro Rivers before they were wiped out by fur trappers in the 1800’s. The beaver population made an initial comeback due to relocation efforts in 1999, and with education, community science, and advocacy, we can bring the beavers back and grow their impact to reach our 50-year vision of restoring southern Arizona’s creeks and rivers on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border.

WMG's campaign goals for the Santa Cruz and San Pedro International Watersheds:

1. Advocating for beaver introduction and additional releases of beavers.

2. Monitoring the health and distribution of beaver populations by coordinating an annual population survey.

3. Rehydrating our creeks and rivers: slowing flows, spreading water across the floodplain, and recharging aquifers—and ensuring beavers can do the same!

Mexico beaver survey participants in November 2021 To restore beavers and their vital role of rehydrating our watersheds, we need a better understanding of their current populations on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border. In fall 2021, we launched the first-ever Binational Beaver Survey on the San Pedro River in southern Arizona and Sonora, Mexico to identify evidence of beavers! Over 40 WMG staff members and volunteers hiked many miles of the river recording evidence of beaver activity, including beaver tracks, chewed trees, dams, and lodges.The survey was launched again for the 2022/2023 winter season, with over 50 River Run Network members participating as well as our partner organizations and private landowners, all with the goal of understanding where beavers are located and the health of their population.

Advocating For Beavers

We’re advocating for beavers to be introduced into Ciénega Creek in the Santa Cruz Watershed, an effort under consideration by the Bureau of Land Management. We also support additional beaver releases along the San Pedro River. Wherever there are perennial flows and deeper pools, we want to see beavers working for our watershed—building dams that slow flows, recharge the aquifer, and create much-needed riparian habitat.

You can support our Release the Beavers Campaign by donating to WMG and joining our River Run Network

Release the Beavers art, by Dennis Caldwell

Videos and Resources

Beaver Events

No events currently scheduled. Please check back soon

Beaver News

It’s hard to believe that the North American beaver was once so ubiquitous in Southern Arizona that fur trappers in the 1800s used to refer to the San Pedro as Beaver River. Those same trappers are the reason the animals went extinct in the area over a century ago. But beavers have made a comeback in recent decades, albeit a modest one, according to the latest count by the nonprofit Watershed Management Group. The environmental organization estimates up to 43 beavers in eight families now...
a photo of a beaver on a branch in the water
The 2024 Binational Beaver Survey Methods & Results...Part 1! Read the full report here Beavers once thrived in the rivers of southeastern Arizona but were extirpated over 100 years ago due to extensive trapping. To restore this keystone species and their crucial ecosystem services, the Bureau of Land Management reintroduced beavers to the San Pedro River. Since then, Watershed Management Group and partners have been monitoring the beaver population through annual bi-national surveys...
Schools are back from winter break as the omicron variant continues to surge in Arizona. We’ll hear from a teacher about going back to the classroom. Plus, the story of Black farmers in the Southwest and how some of them are looking to return to their roots. That and more on The Show. More... [Clip about WMG's beaver survey starts at the 43:23 mark.]
SAN PEDRO RIVER — On a cloudy December Saturday, a group of wildlife enthusiasts met on a dirt pull-off in southern Arizona to embark on a mission. Wide-eyed and unified, the cadre of researchers, advocates, professors and students had volunteered to spend the day collecting data for conservation. Read more...
The beaver population on the San Pedro River increased by one Friday with the release of a transplant that was trapped by a pest control company along Oak Creek southwest of Sedona. Rather than kill the “nuisance animal,” Steven Martin from Critter Control of Northern Arizona worked with the Tucson-based Watershed Management Group to find the beaver a welcoming new home at an educational nature center on the San Pedro near Sierra Vista. “We were all really excited. It made our week,” Martin...
Under cover of darkness, beavers are swimming through tranquil pools in the San Pedro River. They're gnawing on tree trunks. They're building dams. We know this because of the work of volunteers who have recently walked miles along the river searching for signs of beavers. Next to the piled branches of one beaver dam, a volunteer strapped a wildlife camera to a tree several months ago. And in the middle of the night, two beavers repeatedly turned up in the infrared images, their eyes glowing in...
If you picked the Beavers in your bracket, you can probably forget about winning your office basketball pool. But if you’re betting on the beavers along the San Pedro River, you’re still in luck. A Tucson-based environmental group says the dam-building rodents are doing better than previously thought on the federally protected river southeast of Tucson, where they were reintroduced 20 years ago after being wiped out in the early 20th century. At least 15 beavers are now thought to be living...
Thousands of beavers once populated Southern Arizona’s rivers, with frontiersman James Ohio Pattie dubbing the San Pedro River as “Beaver River.” But the animals were hunted and trapped to extermination in the 1800s and early 1900s. However, in 1999 the Bureau of Land Management released 16 beavers into the San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area. Since then, the population has ebbed and flowed, with 50 beavers now estimated along the San Pedro. This summer, BLM plans to introduce a new...