What’s going on?

Before the snow, I was outdoors recently, enjoying the five minutes of sunshine that made it through the fog…

Hey, what’s going on here?

Under our fir trees in the garden the tips of the branches litter the ground…. who’s up there? (I’ll give you a clue: they eat hazelnuts!)

Later, while down near the canal…

What’s this?

Plant material is being dragged across the footpath, from the thin strip of farmland on one side to the canal on the other!

Here’s a big clue:

The creatures themselves remain elusive. On almost every walk down near the water, I see new signs of these fellow vegetarians. But I have never seen one!

Background: the beaver’s coat is very dense and warm… this made it a desirable commodity to man, and by the 19th century the beaver had died out in the whole of Europe due to overhunting and the destruction of its habitat.

However, in the 1960s a few well-meaning nature conservationists re-introduced the beaver to European waters. In the north of Germany the Canadian Beaver was set out, but in Bavaria various types of European Beaver, quite a bit smaller than the Canadian or North American beavers, were released.


Photo from Wikimedia Commons

Within 30 years they had become a problem for some, since they are officially protected and cannot be hunted. In addition, they no longer have any natural predators in this country. Foresters, anglers, farmers and gardeners are not keen on them, although projects to reduce damage and provide information have slightly improved the beaver’s reputation. Many people still think that re-introducing animals to a habitat that is largely populated by humans cannot bode well. There are now an estimated 15,000 beavers in Bavaria alone!

What do you think about re-introducing creatures to regions where they have long died out?

37 thoughts on “What’s going on?

  1. I think that, if they naturally belong in a habitat, they should be reintroduced, but there are going to be issues, of course, since humans have really overrun a lot of perfectly good habitat. It’s when animals are introduced that DON’T belong in an area (like the domestic rabbits in Victoria, B.C., for instance) that there are the worst problems because the natural balance gets so out-of-whack.

    This post made me laugh and recollect the beavers in my parents’ small lake, on Vancouver Island, who felled, hauled and built such an immense set of dams and homes that they flooded the adjacent road and the Wildlife department had to intervene.

    • This can be funny, but they can also do terrible damage if property or farmland is flooded. The key seems to be having a good wildlife department that manages the reintroduction properly and long-term. Thanks for your comment!

  2. I think we as a race have done so much damage, that even our best-laid intentions are bound to go wrong… *sigh* No matter how much thought goes into these interferences, we cannot recreate the balance God originally designed. There are SO many examples of reintroductions that have gone amuck!!

  3. Everything in nature must have a counter balance. Just like people to keep an area from becoming over-populated. There is much to be said here but it would take me too long to write. I will try to amke it short.

    When an eco-system or habitat is disrupted, as the mammals were decimated in most of England and Europe, that caused major changes in all of nature. There must be predators to control various mammals., If there are no predators then what ever has been re-introduced will proliferate and thus become a nuisance and then a menace. So if one species is brought back then other species that prey on the beavers should be re-introduced as well. That is the manner in which a healthy eco-system /habitat survives.

    • You are right, this topic could be discussed at great length! I agree about the predators… I just hope they don’t decide to hunt beavers again one day to manage the numbers.

  4. you cant kill everything…treasure life and make a place for all animals….. squirrel,racoon,possom,deer,foxes, insects…..bear,couger,wolves, and all natives….NO MORE silent spring thats why they call it the balance of nature…animals are welcome in my garden…or I protect what cannot be replaced…and I enjoy their company!! No roaches inside…I draw the ilne there and I will kill them…

  5. Last fall I stopped to admire a flock of snow geese. Standing beside me were two young men wearing camouflage gear. I asked them if they hunted the geese. Off course they said yes. I asked if they eat the meat, their response, no they just shoot and kill since the snow geese now overpopulate our area, I said so do humans, do you want to hunt them? My thought is they really wanted to say yes, but all they did was smile. Shame on anyone who thinks because we are currently a dominant species we have the right to alter an ecosystem. Your children’s children will pay.

  6. I hope you get to see your local beavers Cathy. European beavers have been reintroduced in Scotland, but are being carefully monitored to assess their impact on the environment. One argument for the reintroduction was that the beavers will recreate wetland habitats that will benefit a whole range of species.

    • Hi Sarah. That was an argument here, but I feel only to justify opinions already formed – there is little objective thought in some of these projects, with enthusiasts (albeit knowledgeable) pushing for something for the sake of it. I just hope the beaver doesn’t make himself too unpopular here!

  7. I´d like to see one of our introduced beavers to. Also a wolfe, I´d like to see. Other Neozoen are attractive to see in the beginning. But where does the responsibility of humans start? Some species use modern ways of travelling – like ships, planes. humans and so on. It´s part of the evolution to spread – if you can.
    I have more trust in nature than in human ignorance – non wisdom, but … we are part of nature 😉

  8. I didn’t know that beavers had been re-introduced into Germany. I was recently doing some reading about beavers, and apparently they are a huge problem in Argentina. (25 breeding pairs were flown in from Canada in 1946 by request of the government. The intent was to create a fur trade in Argentina). Occasionally there are some pretty serious repercussions for introducing species into a new habitat!

    Beavers are fascinating creatures, however. Have you ever seen the photos of the world’s largest beaver dam? It’s in my home province of Alberta, in a national park up north. http://www.pc.gc.ca/pn-np/nt/woodbuffalo/ne.aspx

    • Thanks for the link Sheryl. That is amazing! They have plenty of space to spread out up there… I wonder how many generations have been working on that dam!

  9. Hi Cathy, I loved your story; the mystery had me going and I did not expect our friend, The Beaver.
    I come from ‘The Beaver State” over here in The States. I like Beavers, I mean who doesn’t like those funny furry buck-toothed little guys? But, so are rabbits and look what they did to Austrialia. I think we humans should stop all this meddling.

    • I tend to agree… even though I like the idea of having beavers down the road. But perhaps we should concentrate on making sure we don’t destroy the habitats of any more creatures, so such measures won’t be necessary in the future. I didn’t know Oregon is the Beaver State… my geography of North America is slowly improving though, and I could find Oregon on a map now! LOL!

  10. It’s a tough call, especially in a stiuation where not only is the animal gone, but so are its natural predators…we live in an area too densly-populated for hunting, and the re-introduced wild turkeys are everywhere. Their only real predators are cars and coyotes – which everone wants to get rid of…
    It’s a mess, sometimes…

    • It is tough… re-introducing can lead to a never-ending chain reaction in the flora and fauna… I hope they don’t re-introduce wolves here, although the odd family lives on Germany’s eastern and southern borders.

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