Beavers, Castor canadensis, Feeding on Salmon Carcasses: Opportunistic Use of a Seasonally Superabundant Food Source

Jeffrey S. Gleason, Ryan A. Hoffman, James M. Wendland


We report observations of Beavers (Castor canadensis) foraging and feeding on discarded Chinook Salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) carcasses within the confines of the Susitna River drainage in southcentral Alaska on three separate occasions between 1999 and 2004. In all three instances, Beavers were observed actively seeking out freshly discarded carcasses or transporting “fresh” salmon carcasses in their mouths. In one instance, Beavers were seen using their dextrous forefeet to “handle” chunks of salmon while hunched over carcasses and in this case we actually witnessed Beavers “chewing” and ingestion was assumed. In the other two instances, Beavers were observed swimming with salmon carcasses in their mouths. Though unique within the framework of Beaver foraging ecology, we suggest this behavior may be a fairly common strategy employed by Beavers in Alaskan streams and rivers to take advantage of a seasonally superabundant source of protein.


Beaver; Castor canadensis; Chinook Salmon; feeding; Oncorhynchus tshawytscha; Alaska

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